How to get the most out of S Note on the Galaxy Note 4

Tips for taking notes, on your Note

S Note has been a thing on the Galaxy Note line for a while. Think of it as a full-blown notebook that you can write, type or even speak text into, then add snippets like a map, or a video or a picture to round it out. It's powerful and has a bit of a learning curve to make the most of it.

We've been using it on the Galaxy Note 4 for a bit, and have found a few tips that will make things a little easier and make your notes not only look better, but have a wee bit more function as well. The app itself walks you through the basics when you first use it, so let's go beyond those and make the most out of the S Note app on the Note 4.

Read now: Get the most out of S Note on your Note 4

The power of the S Pen

S Pen mode

Your Galaxy Note 4 has a superb built-in stylus that's far more than a stylus. We think the S Pen is a great addition to the Note 4, and makes doing things like using the S Note app even better. You have more precise control over annotations, and writing is a breeze with a "real" pen. But you'll want to tell S Note that you'll be using it.

In the toolbar inside the S Note app, you'll see an icon of a pointing finger. Give it a tap and you can select to go into "S Pen only mode." This means the app will ignore most any touch that doesn't come from the S Pen itself. No more smudges from the side of your hand! To turn S Pen mode off, tap the icon again and change the setting.

Adjust your virtual pen

Pen settings

You'll want to adjust the settings of your virtual pen tip for different situations. You have plenty of options, from thin crisp lines to calligraphy nibs to eraser tips. These can be set on the fly, and mixed and matched inside the same document. And they are easy to change.

In your toolbar, the first icon is your pen type. Press and hold to open a window where you can choose the tip properties, adjust the size and color and make things look just the way you like. When you've finished, you can even save your settings as a pre-set to get back to them quickly. Different text styles can make any note stand out, and turn things into art.

An alternative to turn-by-turn maps

Quick map note

Your Note 4 comes with a pretty powerful maps application that includes turn-by-turn directions and more. We love Google Maps, but sometimes it's a bit of overkill. Using the "Insert" menu, you can place a map into one of your notes then jot down quick info for reference. In the above example, I've dropped a map of an area I'm pretty familiar with into a note. Now instead of having to remember that the Rosslyn Station is on Moore Street, and that it's the station I want to park at, I can open a note and see exactly where I want to be — without firing up Google Maps or asking my Note for directions.

Sometimes, quick and easy is quicker and easier.

A picture of text is still a picture

Photo-note tool

Often times you'll want to insert a picture you've taken into one of your Notes. The S Note app can do it of course, and if that image has text on it (for example, a poster or flyer) here's a trick to make is crisp and clear.

Instead of using the insert menu to stick the picture into your note, use the Photo Note mode to create a new note using the Note 4's great camera. Tap the camera icon in your toolbar, shoot your picture, and a new note will be created that's formatted for a sharp and crisp image. You can still annotate things, add any text you like, or even any other snippets from the insert menu. This just makes your picture — and the text on it — nice and clear.

Voice features can make typing a thing of the past

Voice notes

You have two easy ways to turn the things you say into notes — Voice Memo and Voice recordings. With voice memo, you speak into your phone and the things you say are converted into editable text right in your note as you say them. This is pretty handy for something like a shopping list — speak your list into S Note at home and have it laid out nice and need while at the store.

You can also insert a voice recording directly into your note for listening to later. Perfect for times when you don't want to be taking notes, but have things you want to remember. You simply use the insert menu to drop your recording into any note, and you can play it back at any time.

How do you use S Note?

Taking time to learn the features of the S Note app is well worth doing. Combined with features like Evernote integration, S Note is a powerful platform in its own right and a great way to leverage some of the more advanced features of your Note 4. These tips should get you started, and you can jump into our Note 4 community for even more!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

25 Comments
  • The only thing I got out of this... Is Android Central teasing a Lloyd Watchface? Posted via the Android Central App
  • The proper note here should be: make Lloyd green and make the watch face black/gray.
  • 6. Turn on Evernote synchronization. It will automatically save your notes into Evernote, making them easy to search and fine wherever Evernote is available.
  • Thanks! That's a useful tip I did not know! :-) Posted via the Android Central App
  • One more thing I'd suggest to take into consideration when choosing pen sizes, is if you use multiple devices. In my case, I also have a Tablet, and at first I had chosen a pen size that would look great on the Note 4 but yield very LARGE, bloated text on the tablet, or vice versa, legible text on the tablet and tiny scribblings on the Note 4.
  • I use it to draw on Snapchat Posted from the bando
  • Those it sync with Google Keep? Posted via the Android Central App
  • No
  • can someone explain number 3 to me. im interested in trying that out. what built in map is on the note? and how do you "drop a map in a note'?
  • I guess it's simply a screen capture that he's drawn on. Sometimes that's the easiest way to explain to someone where to go.
  • O ok it's a screen cap, got it
  • You can do it by the way of screen cap; but the above method is by going to the menu > Insert > maps. It's a lot faster and you don't have to crop anything.
  • Thank you! I didn't know that!
  • Screen shot while in Google Maps. You can then either insert when your in S Note, or share from the picture itself. You could also use Smart Select, which will immediately prompt you to put the picture into S Note, or image clip.
  • Does it work with Google Keep? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nope. Only Evernote and SCloud. Posted via the Android Central App
  • 1. If you go to "all notes" and hit the overflow menu, you can import a PDF, and then draw on it or sign it and it looks way better than skitch. 2. You can also export any note as a PDF or jpeg. 3. Anything you save to the scrapbook, when inserted, will also paste meta data, which is either annoying or awesome, depending on how you look at it. 4. Any tag you use will show up in S Finder, as will text. S Finder also searches through tags or text in your evernote documents. This is useful for jumping directly to the page with the info you want. Tagging things on the note really helps 5. If you hover your pen over a large notebook, the pages blow up and you can go to a specific one. 6. If you want to add another PDF to your note later, or if you have a page from another note that you'd like to add to one you are working on, just go to the edit section of the note you are working in and "import pages". This is very handy in school or if you have multiple DOCs to sign and PDF. 7. There is a Mont Blanc APK out there that is mostly useless, but it adds the ability to switch pens much easier by putting a tray at the bottom left corner. 8. If you write stuff by hand but want it searchable in evernote, just select it with the took and convert it to text. It doesn't justify the writing, which is annoying, but it works well. There's a lot more, but I have to go. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I am actually truly shocked that no one has copied or innovated the s-pen yet. Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • It's annoying nobody has. It could be so much more with a little competition. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah I can see that but Samsung is doing a pretty good job of advancing things and not standing still. Still you are right, could be much more Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • It's really strange, the S Pen is kind of the defining feature of the Note series. Yeah it did big screen before it was cool (please note I'm not saying it was the first) but at this point the S Pen is what sets it apart from other huge phones. You'd think someone would try to capitalize on that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah it wasn't the first big screen but it was the one that made it cool. Spen had a lot to do with that Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I love being able to import youtube videos into my notes
  • @jerry i had no idea you lived in the DMV! arlington resident here!(near shirlington)
  • I love s note but i miss the folders to put the notes in, Please bring it back! I do a lot of reading on installed apps like Kobo and Kindle, and have collections of books, this is so easy to keep the "in order" list so I know which book is next. But Please, Please, Please bring back the folders! Oops, i guess this doesn't go to Samsung so I am wasting my breath...