Can't reach across the Galaxy Note 3's enormous screen? Samsung's got a software trick to help you out

We may live in a world of 6.3 to 6.4-inch smartphones, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 3's 5.7-incher is still pretty big. And getting around it using only your thumb can be a challenge. Samsung has always offered "one-handed mode" software tricks on the Note series — for example, letting you shrink and rearrange the keyboard, dialer, and other areas for easier thumbing.

On the Galaxy Note 3, though, it's taken this to an all-new level. The new "Use for all screens" option, found under "Settings > Controls > One-handed operation," lets you shrink the entire display in to a moveable, resizable window a fraction of the screen's true size. Crazy!

Once enabled, you can activate this "windowed" mode by swiping in an arrow shape from the edge of the screen. Most apps work just fine in this shrunken-down view, though some, including the camera, bump you back to fullscreen mode. The window snaps in whichever side you perform the gesture, and you can move it around and resize if you want.

While it sounds ridiculous, there's an insane logic to Samsung's approach here. The gesture is easy to perform, letting you snap in and out of this shrunken view pretty quickly. Take a closer look in the video above; we've also got the gesture in animated GIF form for you down below.

Animated GIF


Reader comments

How to shrink the Galaxy Note 3's display into a tiny window


Because sometimes the situation dictates one hand use? People hold and use their phones differently in different situations, no need to be dense.

Because maybe you like the big screen phone but there's a moment during your day when you need to use your phone with one hand?

I'd rather have a big screen that has the ability/options to shrink than have a small screen with know options to get bigger.

I'd rather have a small screen with an ability to expand than a big device with no options to get smaller.

Exactly what I was thinking.

I often use my phone single handed. With my 4 ~1/4" screen, and my small hands, it is difficult enough already. I can't imagine a worth while reason for anyone that uses their device One handed to get a note.

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And give up all the great things the Note series has... Not an option!

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good on samsung on implementing such a feature. The phone is excellent for 2-handed use, possibly the best. Now, with the ability to easily use it one-handed, the note 3 has all of a sudden become interesting to me.

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I'll have to take your word for it when it comes to how well it works in practice, but I can't help but find the irony of the whole situation pretty funny - that it takes a feature that shrinks down the display to make these extreme size phones more useable (in some situations). This, of course, opens the door (or rather keeps it open) to phones getting even bigger. 10 inch phone anyone?

You can always have a small device, but it isn't necessarily as comfortable for two hands and isn't as good of an experience for pictures/video.
Of course then you can buy 2 devics I suppose.

Why get a smaller device? Why not get the Note and have the option of having a smaller screen for those times when you don't need the full real estate of the screen. Why suffer with a smaller phone for the smaller percentage of time you want to use it one handed. Now if you want to use it one handed all the time then by all means get a smaller phone but for everyone else out there why not make it an option.

There is always the option of a "small" smartphone while owning a tablet.

Each of the two will perform great in their areas. No need for compromising just to get a middle ground. However, there are people that want that middle ground. Others prefer a small(4-4 1/2"), portable smartphone. Which is still very much usable, and have a nice tablet available when screen size and power matter.

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Not really my cup o tea, but very slick device (sans the stitching and plenty of twiz). Looking forward to using one for a bit

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I expected the fake stitching on the fake leather to be ugly, but it's fine. Barely noticeable IMO, plus the pleather grain is subtle and feels like a good grip, almost like the back of the Nexus 10.
I'm very glad the fake stitches are black, if they'd made them white it would look horrible and I'd break out the Sharpie.

That is an awesome little feature. There are plenty of situations where one hand use is the only option and having something like this makes life a lot easier. My only concern would be if it becomes obtrusive to normal use. I wouldn't think so, but the gesture may be a bit more sensitive than we think.

I did a similar thing on CM10 for my Note 2 but I could only get the window to pop up in the top left corner. Having the window up there wasn't helpful for right hand use. Good to see Samsung has included this in Touchwiz.

I currently find the device a little to big to carry around, but I must say this is a really cool feature to have and maybe one day I would not mind having such a large device if it was easy to use one handed at any time.

I have a 9 month old & a 2 year old. This helps... Like it's been said, sometimes the situation doesn't give you the option for 2 hands.
In going from the S3 to the N3 in February, I can't wait until I can root & tinker...I wonder if team viper is doing anything for the note? It made me fall in love with my rezound.

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Just cant get this to work on my Note 3 despite having enabled "Use for all screens" as per the video. Thought I was being really dumb so watched the video again and the animated gif and still no go. I suspect that something else is intercepting the gesture as I have installed/tried other launchers.

I was trying it using "Touchwiz Home" though - but still no go.

I have noticed that many people who decry a big screen saying you need two hands, often use two hands (or thumbs!) to use their small screened phones!

Now got this to work after finding that there is some sort of bug in the "Accesibility" options. If any of them such as Tasker, Lightflow, Pebble, DynamicNotifications, Pebble Notifier, Augmented Smartwatch Pro etc. are enabled, the function does not work. In addition, it is worth mentioning that if any of these are enabled the standard supplied browser annoying talks all the time saying "Page Loaded", "Page Loading" etc. - I suspect it is an Android bug as it happens in non Touchwiz launchers as well and I can't believe all the apps have made the same error.

There was a similar bug with the note 2 when using a pebble. It's definitely touchwiz related and assuming Samsung is pushing its own smart watches now I doubt they are in a rush to fix it. I do recall the only way to get your device to quit talking to you was to disable voice talk back services through the app manager.

Ugh I thought I was the only one having this issue. Thanks for finding a fix! Do you think they'll solve the problem anytime soon? Or is there another way we could access this feature with the LMT pie controls or something like that? I plan on setting up Tasker tomorrow and it'd be a shame if I I have to choose between the two

A very cool and useful software feature. Can't wait to see it in person. I'm worried about the speaker quality since I'm using the HTC One now.

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Drop the copy/paste argument already. Half that ruling has already been vacated, and the rest is going back to court by order of the judge.

Did Samsung try and use ideas from Apple. Sure they did. I'm sure they used ideas from HTC and Sony, too. Every manufacturer in every sector of the commercial sector does the same thing.

The *only* thing I'll criticize Sammy on is for getting a little too close in their color scheme for their icons. But that is such a *tiny* aspect of the phone itself.

Everybody loves bringing up that Apple v Samsung case in California, but nobody wants to mention that the same case was completely thrown out in the UK, since Apple was found to have altered the images of Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab to try and make them look more like the iPhone and iPad. They went so far as to alter the aspect ratio of the Galaxy Tab, in their court documents, and "remove" the Samsung branding on the front of the device.

AC auto-spam filter won't let me post links to the articles. Just look up "apple altered images samsung" and you'll find the articles.

And Apple has done this same thing. Repeatedly. I'm not going to harp of all the technologies they "stole" in making the iPhone, because it really doesn't matter. They were able to take existing ideas and turn them into something new. That's a *good* thing.

As Steve Jobs himself so famously said, "Good artists copy, great artists steal."

You are typically self-deluded, but I'll just address your last comment.

"Good artists copy great artists steal" -- SJ
This line originally dates back not to Jobs or Picasso, but to T.S Eliot, and the original quote sheds some light into the intended meaning, which is often misinterpreted by the clueless as a license to steal other's work and ideas.
"One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest."

The quote is from an essay Eliot wrote on a playwright named Philip Massinger. He's basically saying that good poets borrow from other's works in a way that contributes something entirely new to the medium. He is not suggesting that merely imitating someone's work without added value is justified.
Eliot's comment on borrowing "from authors remote in time, alien in language, or diverse in interest" meshes brilliantly with many of Apple's design influences, such as Dieter Rams's transistor radio designs' influence on the original iPod. Another great example is the iPad's Smart Cover, which bears an uncanny resemblance to an obscure Japanese bathtub cover.
Contrast this with Samsung's modus operandi, which is to blatantly copy [often poorly] their direct competitors' designs without adding any value.

Background color:
I don't see an option in the video, but it would be nice to just have the background black rather then blue.
Seems silly to have that portion of the screen lit when it doesn't need to be.

You have a point. I wonder if there are any other settings to change that. I know my settings screen on my Note 2, a lot of the toggle have more settings if you click the text, rather than the toggle itself.

It would save power too on an AMOLED device. Plus would look better, IMO. Not to mention blue being most prone for burn in. Not that one would use the phone in this mode for very long, but this is really a brilliant feature for those rare times, when we don't have both hands (standing on a bus).

Clever innovation!
Thanks for showing us this. It is a useful way to go one-handed on the go, yet still
keeping the big screen.

I like the feature and I'm sure I'll use it. Why not get a smaller phone? Because I already have one. In my case I drive for a living and my phone is in a car dock 10-12 hours a day. The large screen will be great for my type of usage

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Why is the video talking about a one-handed convenience feature while ALWAYS USING TWO HANDS! (or 1 table + 1 hand ). I want to see how (if) this works well single-handedly!

So not only did you make up a username just to make this ridiculously unintelligible comment, but it took you over half an hour to finally post after creating an account.

What is a "merd"?

Sounds like a word made up by Apple's *ahem* legendary auto-correct.

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Seems telling (or ironic?) that the video demo for one-handed operation mode is done using two hands the whole time.

Lol at ppl who are saying buy a smaller phone. Text with one hand then play real racing in full screen. Thats y.its an option u don't have to use, but its handy.

Does anyone know if this mini screen function could be made to be default for the home screen and app-drawer? It's really annoying when it goes back to full screen once you lock/unlock the phone. Hoping there is a solution, thank you.

Holy crap, I just did this accidentally and I thought I broke my phone. I couldn't work out how I did it. I have had this setting on my phone since I got it qnd had no idea how it worked very informative article.