Using 'Multi-window' on the Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung's full-screen multi-tasking feature returns on the Galaxy S4. Here's where to find it and how to use.

A favorite feature of the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung's 'Multi-window' multitasking capability is included out of the box on the Galaxy S4. It's probably one of the coolest software tricks Samsung has come up with to date, but it's easily overlooked if you don't know it's there.

To use Multi-window, you'll first need to enable it in the quick settings area. Drag the notification bar down, hit the block icon in the top right corner and make sure "Multi-window" is lit up. From there, you can toggle the Multi-window bar on or off by long-pressing the back key. It's possible to move the bar around by long-pressing the rounded tab while it's open. (To move the tab up or down, simply long-press and drag up or down when the bar doesn't have focus.)

Not all apps are compatible with Multi-window, but you've got a decent selection of Samsung and Google apps to choose from. It's also possible to remove apps you don't use from the Multi-window bar by hitting "edit" and dragging their icons into the blank space.

Using the Multi-window bar is easy enough -- to load an app in full-screen move, tap it, To load it in the top or bottom portion of the screen, long-press and drag it into place. With two apps sharing the screen, you can change the way things are divided by dragging the dividing line. Around that line you'll also see three buttons -- one for swapping apps, another to make the current app full-screen, and another to close it. Flip into landscape mode and the apps themselves will rotate, but the dividing line will remain in place.

It might not work with every app, but Multi-window is still one of our favorite TouchWiz features, and if you're a big multi-tasker -- or just someone who wants to watch YouTube and browse the web simultaneously -- it could be really useful.

Also see:

  • Quick tip: Disable S Voice shortcut for faster home key response
  • Three ways to add camera shortcuts to the Galaxy S4 lock screen
  • Using 'Quick Glance' on the Samsung Galaxy S4
  • How to get rid of the 'Life Companion' message on the Galaxy S4
Alex Dobie
Executive Editor

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

  • For the week I had my S4, I always thought that scrolling menu on the side was to get to the most frequently used apps quicker haha. Had no clue it was for multi window. Agreed though, I think it's more of a niche feature, than a useful one.
  • Sometimes it can be pretty useful, like watching a YouTube Video and chatting at the same time. KakaoTalk is supporting this mode as well, not sure about WhatsApp.
  • Some of my iPhone toting friends are drooling over this feature, however I have never found it to be useful. I have WahtsApp and unfortunately it does not seem multi-window compatible.
  • Actually whatsapp is supported with multi window..the problem is they haven't yet released the supported version on play store..the play store has v2.9.5196 and at the official page there is 2.9.6621..multi window version is out there for along time I am using it for more than a month now which is pretty awesome. .download and install manually from whatsapp site and then see your multi window apps..cheers
  • I'm one of those that drooled over many of those features so I abandoned my iPhone 4S for a Note II. I've probably only played around with multi window once. I loaded up SD cards with stuff that I rarely access, etc. Even the ability to choose which app opens a particular file doesn't work, so most of the time I have to answer the same question over and over about which damn app I want. There is one key feature that has kept me with the Note II and that is the screen size. I just can't stand the tiny iPhone screen. Oh, I have also witnessed how stagnant the OS upgrade cycle is. Not a single software update yet from Samsung. I don't claim to speak for everyone. Just my personal experience.
  • It's a gimmick! (ala It's a trap!) ;P I don't use it very much on my Note 2 or Note 10.1, but it's an awesome feature for those times when you need things side by side. I'd rather have the option than not!
  • bc you personally don't use it then it's a "gimmick"
  • You know how i know you didnt read his post all the way through?
  • Haha, nah. I was trying to be funny and sarcastic (not very good at it) and preempt those typical comments proclaiming these features are "gimmicks". :D
  • Not that useful on a phone but would really love this on my Nexus 10. If sammy ever comes out with a Note 10.1 matching the N10 specs I'll probably jump... Or hope it's internals are exactly the same and someone figures out how to restore a Note 10.1 firmware to a N10...
  • The nexus 10 is not a competitor because it has no S-Pen or no handwriting capability. Therefore the Note 10.1 burns circles around a Nexus 10 because it has Multi-Window AND and S-Pen. Happy hen pecking
  • It's very useful on my Note 2, especially since I'm running Beans ROM with all apps compatible to work in mult-window.
  • Thanks Alex. I would have never figured it out on my own.
  • Google should embed this feature to Android in 4.3 so that all devices cam make use of this feature.
  • There are atleast 5 seperate apps in the market that do the same thing.
  • And yet his comment started with "Google should embed..." Kind of like how Google embeds lots of nice features every version, making some 3rd party apps useless. Sucks for those app makers (unless they sold the idea to Google, of course) but great for users.
  • Correction: All apps ARE compatible, but for some reason, Samsung &/or the carriers don't enable them to all work in Multi- window. There are S3 & Note 2 custom ROMs that have all apps enabled & they work just fine. There will be ROMs enabling this for the S4 too.
  • I'm using this feature right now on my Galaxy S2...
  • pretty neat feature!
  • @Alex Dobie Thanks for the cool post. Indeed, multi-window is a very useful and also attractive features. side-by-side 2 works a user can use in this feature. Thanks in Advance
  • There's really no need to put @ before the name as it's already apparent exactly who you're responding to by using their name. Also the "Thanks in advance" is only used when you're asking a question or asking for help. :)
  • It's also not necessary to comment on every single article when all you ever say is:
    @Android Central writer Here is where I summarize what you just wrote. Thanks In Advance
  • I have this on my Galaxy S 3 and don't find it very useful. Though I don't multitask much on my phone. I actually find floating apps to be more a popup browser or a floating calculator that is present over the top of whatever app I am using. I can see how some people would find the multiwindow useful. I'd probably use it for finding directions on the internet then entering them into navigation if I used it for anything.
  • I use multi-window daily with a combination of Chrome, Office Suite Pro and Gmail/Messaging. It is great for displaying information required when writing an email/message or editing a document.
  • i would never use this on a GS 4 sure its big but its not big enough for 2 apps on the same screen. The note 2 is prefect size for this. The GS 4 is not.
  • Its great but when am i Finally going to get the update on my S3 to have this and the 360 panoramic camera.
  • This feature works best on Tablets.. i.e the Note 10.1 and 8.0. by using either of these devices and the integrated s-pen, while listening to a talk or a lecture, I can be writing down notes, recording the lecture, and surfing Wikipedia on the same subject ON THE SAME SCREEN AT THE SAME TIME!! Please don't tell me that switching back and forth to each screen is a better design because I'll just lose all hope.
  • I could see myself using that a lot. If I want to text someone some information in an email, it's a little more efficient than switching between the recent apps list. This technology will mature further, and will get better and better. Just wait until you hook this up to a TV, and hook up a keyboard/mouse...
  • Works great on my s3 :)
  • I have my complaints about the S4 but multi-window is a serious competitive advantage in my view.
  • Let's try Floating Web Browser, a multitasking browser that can use over other apps like popup window.
    It will save your time from switching between apps.
  • I love multitasking applications. The Floating Dictionary application helps me a lot.I can find words' meanings while reading an english book.This application is very convenient.
    Floating Dictionary: