Galaxy Note 4 multitasking

Samsung offers a wealth of multitasking features on the Note 4 — but there's a learning curve involved

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4, like many modern Android phones, has an enormous high-res display. Arguably, though, it's the Note's unique multitasking setup that helps you get the most out of that vast visual realestate. Features like windowed mode and multiwindow bring desktop-like capabilities to Samsung's latest oversized phone. However it's not always obvious where these features live, and there are a few different ways to interact with the Note 4's unique multitasking setup.

Multiwindow and Pop-up view

Since debuting on the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung's multiwindow feature has expanded its functionality significantly, but the basic purpose remains the same — run more than one on-screen at once. On the Note 4, the traditional split-screen view and the new pop-up windowed mode are interchangeable, and you can swap freely between them. Note that not all apps support multiwindow, as in most cases this needs to be enabled by the app's developer. However the main Samsung and Google apps, as well as staples like Twitter and Facebook all work in this mode.

There area bunch of different ways to use multiwindow, but first you'll want to make sure it's turned on. Head to Settings > Device > Multiwindow and check the toggle at the top. Here's also where you can tell apps to launch automatically in multiwindow mode, and enable or disable the shortcut for pop-up view, which we'll get to shortly.

Multiwindow menu

The main way to use the Note 4's various windowed modes is through the multiwindow panel, accessible by long-pressing the back key. If this doesn't work, go back and check multiwindow is enabled in the settings, or using the quick setting shortcut in the notification shade.

The panel slides out from the right, and gives you quick access to apps that support multiwindow. To add or remove apps from this list, press the arrow at the bottom of the panel, then select "Edit," and move apps in and out of the side panel.


Tap an icon in the multiwindow panel to open it in pop-up view. This creates a small, windowed version of the app that can be resized by dragging the corners, or moved around by dragging the circular button at the top. (A neat trick is to drag it to the top or bottom of the screen to go fullscreen, or open it in a split-screen view if there's already a supported full-screen app running.)

Popup view

Tapping that button also brings up window controls. From left to right —

  • Swap content between apps: Tap this icon to drag and drop content between windows. As always, Samsung's own apps make best use of this feature, and not all types of content are supported. You can however drag and drop images into the Samsung Messaging app, or move items around on the phone's internal storage using this feature.

  • Minimize: Collapses the app down to a Facebook chat head-style button, which you can move around your screen. (Pressing the home key with an app in windowed mode will automatically minimize it.)

  • Maximize: Sends the app into full screen mode.

  • Close: Closes the windowed app.

You can also quickly send a full-screen app into windowed mode by swiping diagonally inwards from one of the top corners of the display — this is a little quicker than using the multiwindow menu to open your desired app.

So that's pop-up view. The traditional multiwindow split-screen mode works similarly, and you can access this through the slide-out multiwindow panel. To split the screen between two supported apps, simply drag and drop them into place. (Note that some apps, like Camera and Calculator, only support pop-up view, not split-screen.) From here you can use the central control to resize the partitioned display, making one app bigger and the other smaller. And in addition to the controls available in pop-up view mode, you can also swap the position of the two apps using the swap button.

Popup view gesture

You'll also lose the persistent status bar in split-screen mode; to get it back, simply swipe down from the top of the screen.

Some apps can be opened in multiple instances — for example, the file browser can be open and show different folders in pop-up view or multiwindow mode. When an app can do this, you'll see a small arrow next to it in the multiwindow menu. Tap it to view a preview of all the instances of the app.

If you find there's a pair of apps you use frequently, you can create a custom view and save it to the multiwindow menu for quick access. With your chosen apps open in split-screen view, tap the arrow at the bottom of the multiwindow menu, then tap "Create." To remove it, tap "Edit," then the minus icon by the app pair.


The basic app-switching menu

Officially called "Recents" or "Overview" depending on which version of Android you're running, the Galaxy Note 4's task-switching button brings up your recent apps in a Lollipop-style stack of cards, which you can navigate by swiping up or down. Down below you'll find buttons for clearing all apps out of memory, and viewing your RAM status — but on a high-end phone like the Note 4 shouldn't really need to use these.

As well as giving you an easy way to hop between recent apps, the Note 4's app switcher includes buttons to start an app in multiwindow mode if supported — that's the icon on the far right of the app label. If an app doesn't have this icon, it means it'll only run in fullscreen mode.

Another neat trick is to long-press on a multiwindow-capable app to bring it up in pop-up view — again, this is a bit quicker than the alternative ways of activating pop-up view.

Recent apps

The choice is yours

Samsung's multitasking features have been simplified somewhat in the Note 4, but there's still a whole bunch of ways to activate them, and a wealth of different possibilities when you're using them. As we've said before, though, the main issue with these features is the fact that not all apps are supported in all modes — and that includes many built-in apps. It's powerful for sure, but still a bit confusing, even for seasoned users.

How are you using the multitasking features on your Galaxy Note 4? Shout out in the comments!