The Samsung Galaxy Note is one of those special tablets that includes a digitizer to make your mobile life infinitely easier. The only problem is that you're very limited in how you can configure the S Pen. Out of the box, you can disable pen detection to save your battery, define what happens when the pen is removed (open Shortcuts Toolbar, open Pop Up Note, open S Note, etc), configure the tablet to play a sound when the pen is removed, turn on Air view, and enable/disable haptic feedback. This is the one area that the Galaxy Note could user a bit more control. Why? Power users want more.
Fortunately, there are apps in the Google Play Store to fill in the gaps left by the Samsung Galaxy Note tablet. One of those tools is the S Pen Toolbox. This handy little application brings to your S Pen everything that Samsung should have included by default, including:
- Custom sounds for the S Pen (attach and detach)
- Show customizable actions list when detaching the S Pen
- Start any action, application, or shortcut on detach
- Screen Off when attaching S Pen
- Smart Screen Off Mode (turn screen off on attach if it was off prior to S Pen detach)
- Return to home screen when attaching S Pen
- Create Screen Off shortcut on home screen
There are two versions of S Pen Toolbox:
- Free – has a short delay before “screen off”
- Pro for $2.64 (USD) – no delay before “screen off”
Neither version requires the device to be rooted. Let's get this app installed and start using it.
The installation is mostly straightforward. There is one tiny hiccup that could throw some users for a loop, and I'll address that momentarily. Here are the steps for installation:
- Open the Google Play Store
- Search for “s pen toolkit”
- Locate and tap the entry for S Pen Toolbox
- Tap Install
- Tap Continue
- Allow the installation to complete
When you first run S Pen Toolbox, you'll be required to active the software as a device administrator. This is necessary in order for the application to lock the screen. So, tap Activate when prompted and then make sure the Device Administrator slider is set to “On” (Figure A). This configuration screen will automatically open when you tap Activate on your first run.
S Pen Toolbox running on a Verizon-branded Samsung Galaxy Note tablet.
A note of warning: Should you decide to uninstall S Pen Toolbox, you'll need to go back into the settings and de-activate the software as a device administrator. Once you've done that, you can uninstall the software in the usual fashion.
One of the best features of S Pen Toolbox is the ability to have it automatically open a user-specified app when the digital pen is removed. This means you can pull out the S Pen and have your favorite office suite open automatically (or whatever app you want). To do this, follow these steps:
- Open the S Pen Toolbox
- Tap Execute Action
- Tap Application
- Scroll to locate and then tap the target application (Figure B)
That's it. Now, when you pull out the S Pen from the tablet, that application will open and be ready for usage.
This list will vary, depending on what apps you have installed.
Another nice feature is the S Pen Action list. This small popup will appear when you pull out the S Pen. The Action List contains four buttons that you can configure to launch actions, applications, or shortcuts. Here's how:
- Pull out the S Pen
- When the Action List appears, long-press one of the boxes (Figure C)
- From the resultant popup, tap Add
- Tap either Action, Shortcut, or Application (depending on what you want to add)
- Scroll until you find what you to add and tap the target app, shortcut, or action
The Action List allows you to add up to four actions.
Once you've added one action to the Action List, the popup will appear with only that button (launcher). In order to add more, you simply long-press the launcher (Figure D) and select Add (or edit).
Chrome and Email are already added to the Action List.
If you don't want the Action List to appear, just open S Pen Toolbox and disable Action List and Action List Notification.
The Samsung Galaxy Note offers a very powerful digitizer, but it could still use a few extra features. With the S Pen Toolbox, you'll find those missing features in place. Give this app a try and see if it doesn't perfectly compliment the built-in S Pen features on your tablet.
What S Pen tips and tricks would you like to share with the rest of the TechRepublic community? Post your favorite in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.