Basics of Your Samsung Galaxy Tab’s S Pen - dummies

Basics of Your Samsung Galaxy Tab’s S Pen

By Dan Gookin

To use the S Pen, slide it out of the Samsung Galaxy tablet’s case: Grab the cap and yank the thing out. If the tablet is locked, pulling out the S Pen unlocks the tablet. You’ll still have to work the PIN, Pattern, or Password screen locks, but if your Note has only the Swipe lock, it’s unlocked right away and ready for action.

Take a second to locate the S Pen button. It’s found near the tip of the S Pen. Use that button to help the S Pen perform some of its fancier tricks, but be aware that the button is found on only one side of the S Pen. That means that there’s a right way and a wrong way to hold the thing.


You can use the S Pen at any time as a handy substitute for your finger. All touchscreen manipulations you can do with a single finger can be performed by using the S Pen.

One S Pen feature you may notice right away is the Air command control.

  • Always replace the S Pen when you’re done. Stick it back in the slot. You do not want to lose the S Pen! Because . . .

  • If you lose the S Pen, you can obtain a replacement from Samsung. It’s not cheap. Well, not as cheap as it could be.

How to use Galaxy tab’s Air Command

Most of the fancy things you can do with the S Pen are easily accessed by using the Air Command dingus


Air Command appears whenever you remove the S Pen from its launching tube. You can also make it appear by pointing the S Pen at the touchscreen (you don’t need to touch the screen with it), and then clicking the S Pen button.

Here are brief descriptions of what the Air Command buttons do:

  • Action Memo: Choosing this item opens an Action Memo window into which you can jot notes. The notes are accessed from the Action Memo app, found in the Samsung folder on the Apps screen.

  • Scrap Booker: This feature allows you to copy chunks of the screen to the Scrapbook app. The chunks are graphic images, not the information you’ve circled by using the S Pen.

  • Screen Write: The Screen Write command takes a picture of the screen — a screen shot — and then lets you draw in it by using the S Pen. The saved images can be accessed from the Gallery app.

  • S Finder: Use this item to search your tablet — or the Internet — for specific tidbits of information.

  • Pen Window: After choosing this item, draw a rectangle on the screen, and then choose a mini-app to appear in that rectangle. Only a handful of apps are accessible through the Pen Window.

If you don’t see the Air Command gizmus, ensure that it’s activated on your Galaxy Note. Open the Settings app, found on the Apps screen. Touch the Controls tab and choose the S Pen category from the left side of the window. On the right side, ensure that the Air Command item has a green ON button to its right. If not, touch the button.

Some S Pen tricks

Those Galaxy Tab owners are going to laugh at you if you use the S Pen just as a substitute for your finger. Make those guys seethe with jealousy by showing them some of these fancy S Pen tricks:

  • Screen capture and scribble: To take a snapshot of the screen, press and hold down the S Pen button while long-pressing the S Pen to the touchscreen. After about two seconds, you’ll hear a shutter click sound. The screen shot is saved. You’re then given an opportunity to scribble on the screen shot and save it with your edits. This trick works just like the Screen Write command.

  • Selective screen capture: Press and hold down the S Pen button and then draw around a chunk of information on the screen. That chunk — the exact size you drew around — is presented on the screen. Choose an app from the bottom of the screen and the chunk is sent to that app for further manipulation.

  • Quick launch the Action Memo app: When you’re in dire need to access the Action Memo app and using the Air Command control is too bothersome, press the S Pen button and double-tap the screen. Voilà!