Samsung Notes User Guide for Beginners (Tab S)


Is Samsung Notes available on non-Galaxy devices?

No, to the best of our knowledge, the app has been available on other Android devices. But that seems to be changing. We use the app on the Galaxy Tab S 8 Ultra.

Supported OS

According to Samsung’s website, Samsung Notes is available on Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets running Android 7.0 and higher.


Samsung Notes opens up where you left off the last time you were in the app. We are starting from the homepage because we need to orient ourselves with the app’s homepage before we can start taking any notes. On the far left side of the screen, you have a navigation sidebar that you can toggle when you don’t know what the icons represent. This is where you organise your notes. The bigger right column displays your notes and documents in different folders.

New folders

Before creating any notebook, you must create some organisation for it. The easiest way to do that is with folders. Go to Manage folders (left sidebar) and Create folder. You can then name your new folder, choose a colour for it, and then Add. Sometimes you may want to create a folder within another folder. To do that, tap the parent folder and Create subfolder. Then, like your main folder, you can name it, pick a colour, and Add it to your app.

Return to the homepage (arrow next to Manage folders on the top left corner of your screen or the back icon at the bottom of the screen) to view your folders. Samsung Notes supports an infinite number of folders within folders. When navigating through your folders, the app creates a breadcrumb trail above your notes to tell you exactly where you are in your folder hierarchy.

A useful rule of thumb for folders in a note-taking app: keep them at a maximum of three levels. Anything more than that will just make your notes difficult to reach. We’ll cover more about that later in the course.

New notebooks

You can only create a new notebook from within a folder, either from All Notes, Shared notes, or a folder you created. Make sure one is selected so you can get the icon for creating new notes. Tapping the new note icon (bottom right corner) creates a notebook that immediately opens up. This notebook uses the default paper template in the app, which might not work for you.

To change the paper template for your notebook, go to the three-dots icon (top right corner) and go to Page template. Here, you can see a number of default paper templates in the app. Image paper templates (labelled Images at the bottom of the popup window) are single pages that you can use in your notebook. PDFs are another type of page template. Only they support multiple pages. Each template tells you how many pages it has (bottom left corner), and tapping a template adds all the pages in that PDF template.

When you’re happy with your template, you can name your notebook (tap the Title section, top left corner). Your notebook is ready to start taking notes (tap anywhere on the screen).

User interface 

Let’s take a moment to go through the user interface in Samsung Notes. The app has two toolbars: a fixed one at the top that houses your notebook title and different view modes. Then you have a second, lower toolbar with all the tools you’ll use in the app for creating notes. This toolbar is mobile; you can put it on any side of the screen.

To get started, long-press any empty space on the toolbar until it snaps out of its position. Move it to the side you want it, and let go when you see a toolbar ‘shelf’. I prefer it on the left side of the screen, so that’s where mine will remain for the rest of this course.

You can also change the colour of your pages and user interface in Samsung Notes. Under the three-dots icon, go to Page Settings and choose a Background colour. You can also choose the Scroll direction for your pages. It can be Vertical and continuous, Horizontal and paged, or 2-page horizontal, which remains paged.

Infinite scrolling

Samsung Notes has several page-size options that you can use for notebooks. So far, we have only mentioned one, which is the normal A4 page size. The app has two more setups that we are going to go through. Go to your app settings (settings icon, on the sidebar) and then Style of new notes. So, this won’t affect the notes you already have in the app. Under Style, you have two page styles. Individual pages have a Normal layout, which is the one we used when we created our notebooks. You also use the Long layout to create very long pages that are twice the normal length.

Another style, which is the default for Samsung Notes, is Infinite scrolling page. This creates a page with a fixed width that continuously extends as you write more notes. It has no fixed pages that are clearly marked. So, if you want to change this template, go to your app settings (settings icon, on the left sidebar), then Style of new notes and choose Individual pages > Normal layout.

Pen tool

Samsung Notes has four pen tools: fountain, calligraphy, two types of ballpoint pens, and a brush pen. For each pen tool, you can adjust its thickness (right below the tools) on a scale from 1 to 100. You can use the minus and plus signs, or just drag the dot along the scale to adjust the thickness. Below your scale, you have two colour palettes that you can swipe to change. The first one has seven fixed colours that you can’t change; it also has a colour picker and gives you access to the saved swatches in the app. This palette is a collection of your recently used colours. Swiping to the left or right takes you to another colour palette. 

Tapping the colour switcher icon on the second colour palette opens up a place where you can pick some custom colours using a grid, hex code, or colour picker under Swatches. Under this tab, you can customise a maximum of five colours. Once you have your five colours and you try to save another one, the app simply replaces the last one on the palette. Here is how it works: pick a colour and tap Done (this closes the popup window but also changes your pen colour). Now go back to check the swatch, and you’ll notice the new colour is now the first one on the palette, but you still have only five colours. The last one on the palette has disappeared. Spectrum uses sliders for colour picking, but it works the same as the Swatches for your custom colours. You also have a colour picker.

On the popup window, you also have access to different colour palettes (next to the colour picker icon). These colour palettes are fixed; you can’t change the colours on them, but you can add up to five of them on the toolbar for easier access. Tap Done to save the changes. So far, all these are too much work to access the colours you use frequently. That is why it is better to save five colours on the toolbar that you use often. Below that, you can also set a thickness for your pen tools that you use often. With that, you’re all set to start taking notes in Samsung Notes.

Highlighter and eraser

Samsung Notes has two types of highlighters. One has straight edges (named Highlighter), and the other has rounded ones (named Marker pen). Both are freehand; they are not straight. The second pair is the straight version of the first two. These have some ruler markings on them; that’s how you tell them apart from the freehand ones. The highlighter has similar options for your thickness and colours to the ones you have for the pen tool. It shares the same colour palette on the toolbar with the pen tool. The highlighter tool has one option you don’t get with the pen tool: opacity. At 1%, it is invisible. The highlighter goes behind your ink, so even at 100% opacity, it doesn’t dim your notes.

The eraser tool erases per stroke (Stroke eraser) or per pixel (Area eraser). The pixel eraser (labelled Area eraser) has a size ranging from 1 to 10. You can also choose to erase only the highlighter by turning on Erase highlighter only. The eraser in Samsung Notes only works on handwriting. So when you want to clear everything on the page, you can only erase the handwritten stuff by tapping Erase all handwriting. You can choose to erase the whole notebook (All), or just the Current page.

Zoom tool

The zoom tool in Samsung Notes is very simple. Tap on the zoom icon (small letter a, with horizontal bars above it and an arrow next to the ‘a’) to bring it up. To adjust the zoom level, grab the small orange triangle (bottom right corner). You can move the zoom window manually by simply grabbing it or using the arrows on the zoom window toolbar (right side). 

For automatically advancing the zoom window, write over the light grey section, and the tool will automatically move to the next section when you lift off your S-pen from the screen. You can adjust the grey section using the orange marker at the top of the grey area in your zoom window. The six-dot icon on the zoom window toolbar (top left corner) lets you adjust the area below your zoom window where you can rest your palm. 

Items you can add

You can add many items to Samsung Notes, including text, shapes, photos, and audio recordings.

Text tool

Samsung Notes lets you add text to your handwritten notes. They can either go inside a text box or directly on the page. If you want to mix your handwritten notes with text, then it’s best to use text boxes. To get started, long-press anywhere on your screen to bring up a popup menu. Go to Add text box, and you can start typing your notes or handwriting for instant handwriting conversion (ICR), by tapping the T and pen icon on the keyboard toolbar. You can also dictate (microphone icon) your text.

The keyboard toolbar has several tools for working with your text in Samsung Notes. Selecting your text lets you format it to make it bold, italic, underlined or strikeout. You can also change the colour of the text (underlined-T icon) and even highlight it (squared and underlined-T icon). Then, you can choose the font size for it. The app has alignment options (tap alignment icon) for left, centre, and right alignment. You can add numbered, unnumbered, and checklists. Use the indentation tools (far right side) to add levels to them. You have a single numbering and bullet point type for your numbered and unnumbered lists, but the levels are clear to see. 

The circle dots on the text box resize it, to determine how your text looks and how it’s arranged on the page. It does not, however, resize your text. The whisker rotates your textbox. If the text box is too small, a blue triangle will appear when some of your text is hidden. Tapping on it shows you all the text in a popup window. You can also scroll to see the hidden text or resize the text box to ensure all your text is on the page.
Body text goes directly on the page and does not mix well with handwritten notes. It tends to overlap with it, but it gives you all the tools you have for your text boxes if you choose to use it. So your text is exactly the same, whether or not you use a text box.


Samsung Notes has a shapes tool for drawing shapes. When selected, any shape you draw gets completed and straightened out. The tool works better on regular shapes than it does on irregular shapes, which tend to be curvy. When it is deselected, the app can draw regular shapes, but you must keep your stylus pressed against the screen until they straighten out. The app treats these shapes like handwriting, so you can erase them with the eraser tool, but you can’t select them by tapping on them like you can with the other types of shapes.

Tapping on shapes drawn with the shapes tool brings up a popup menu with options to Cut, Copy, and Delete them. Change style lets you change the shape’s border thickness under the Outline tab. You can only change the border colour, and Samsung Notes only shows the changes once you’ve saved them (tap Done). Under the Fill tab, you can add a fill colour for your shape. Tap Done to save the changes. You can resize, stretch, or shrink the shape (use the dots on the selection box). Samsung Notes can also rotate your shape using the whisker.


Other items you can add to your Samsung Notes are listed under the attachment icon (top right corner). To add photos, go to Image and choose where you want to get your images from: Gallery, Google Drive, My Files, Google Photos, Files, Media, OneDrive or other apps on your device. You can select multiple photos to add them at once and go to Done (top right corner) to add them. The corner white dots on the picture let you resize the image. The ones on the sides shrink or stretch it. The whisker rotates the photos.

Tapping an image brings up a popup menu to Cut, Copy, or Delete it. You can also delete it by going to the image’s minus icon (top right corner). You can Crop your image as a rectangle and tap anywhere outside the image to save the crop. To undo the crop, bring up the popup menu, go to Crop, and manually undo it. Lasso crop lets you use the S pen to crop the image with the lasso tool. It is a freehand lasso tool, but you can’t undo it.

Anchor to text groups the image and the text above it. When you add more text at the top, the anchored text and image move together. To ungroup them, bring up the popup menu, go to the three-dots icon and Remove anchor to text. When you do that, the text moves independently of the image. Lock makes the image immovable and uneditable. You can’t interact with the image in any way unless you unlock it (tap image > Unlock). Under the three-dots icon on the popup menu, you can Wrap text around your image. It works only with body text, which puts text on the sides of the image and surrounds it. When you want the text only above or below the image, go to the three-dots icon and Wrap text behind. You can Fit to page width to enlarge the image so it fits the width of your page. The opposite of that (for a large image) is to Resize to default.

Audio recording

Samsung Notes can sync with your audio recordings to handwritten and typed notes. To get started, go to the attachment icon (top right corner) and tap Voice recording. A small tab (top right side of the screen) tracks the recording time, and you can minimise it (tap the arrows) if you like. To bring it back, tap on it (it will be flashing a tiny orange dot if you’re recording). You can handwrite or type your notes while recording your audio. Tap the box icon (on the tab) to stop recording. To add more recordings to your notebook, tap the recording icon if you still have the tab or restart from the attachment icon if you don’t have the tab. You can do this as many times as you like to add audio in the same notebook.

To go through your recording, tap the forward arrow on the tab to bring up the playback timeline. You can play your audio (play icon). If your notes are not synced to it (that is, rewriting as the audio recording plays), go to the three-bar icon (far right of the timeline) and turn on note replay (Note replay on). Once synced, you can tap any part of your notes to skip to it.

You can also tap anywhere on the timeline to move through the audio. Each dot marker indicates a new recording on your timeline. On the left side of the timeline, you can change the speed of the playback to 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.0x, 1.25x, 1.5x and 2.0x. On the right side, you can rewind or fast-forward 10 seconds at a time. The three-bar icon (far right corner) lists all the different recording sessions in your notebook. Edit lets you select a recording to rename (pen icon) it. You can also select multiple audios to share them out of the app or delete them.


You can add drawings to your notes in Samsung Notes. To get started, go to the attachment icon (top right corner) and then Drawing. The app takes you to a drawing canvas with a grey background. You have a toolbar that houses your drawing or pen tools (from left to right: Water colour brush, Oil paint brush, Calligraphy brush, Pencil, Tilt pencil, Smudge brush, Airbrush, Marker pen, and Crayon) and a colour palette.

At the bottom of the screen, you have another toolbar with an eraser. The tool’s opacity option determines the percentage of your ink it will erase. Next to the eraser are the undo and redo icons. You can zoom in and out of the canvas (pinching gesture) between 70% and 300%. When the canvas is zoomed in, you see some markings at the bottom and right side of the screen. All the toolbars in the app disappear when you need to draw where they are.

When you’re done with your drawing, you can upload it to your PENUP profile using the paper plane icon (bottom left corner) or tap Done (bottom right corner) to save it to your notebook. Once in your notes, drawings are like images, so you can resize, rotate, etc. To edit your drawing, tap the art palette icon (bottom right corner) to return to the drawing canvas to make any changes you like. You can also tap the image to bring up the popup menu and go to Drawing.


You can add scans to your notes in Samsung Notes. Under the attachment icon (top right corner), go to Scan. Samsung Notes can automatically recognise documents. Tap the picture icon (massive white/yellow dot) to take a picture with your device camera. You can Retake the scan if you don’t like it and crop it (use the circles on the four corners) to remove any edges you don’t want. Tap Done to scan another page, and repeat until you have scanned all the pages in your document. The app counts the number of pages you have scanned (below the massive dot). Tap Save (above the dot) to add the scans to your notes as images. If you wait too long without scanning more pages, the app automatically adds your scans to your notes.

Lasso tool

The lasso tool in Samsung Notes can pick up everything on your page. The app has freeform (labelled Lasso) and rectangular (labelled Rectangle) lasso tools that work the same. You have to encircle items completely to pick them up, meaning the app won’t pick up partially selected items. When you turn the option on at the bottom of the popup window (turn on Include partially selected objects), you can pick up items not completely encircled by your lasso tool. You can resize your selection (white dots on the four corners of the selection) or move it around your page.

The popup for your selection has options to Cut and Copy your selection, which the app adds to the clipboard. Samsung Notes keeps all the items in your clipboard until you delete them. To access the clipboard, go to the clipboard icon on the toolbar (second icon from the left side). You can also long-press an empty space to bring up the popup menu and go to Clipboard. You can scroll through all the items you have copied in the past, and these only disappear from here when you delete them. To add something to your notes from the clipboard, tap on it. You can still paste copied items months after you have copied them. Long-pressing a clip lets you select multiple clips that you can then delete (bin icon) or pin (pin icon) for easier access.

The simple copy-and-paste option also works in Samsung Notes when you want to paste what you recently copied. Long-press to bring up the popup menu and Paste. Even though the app’s lasso tool is not selective, you can still select individual items by simply tapping on them: highlighter, text boxes, images, and shapes. The app can pick up single letters for your handwriting when you tap on them using the S Pen. However, using the lasso tool to encircle the handwriting you want to select is better. On the popup menu, you can Straighten your handwriting or Change style where you can adjust the pen thickness and its colour. Remember to tap Done to save the changes because the app doesn’t effect them when you don’t.

Quick start

On the app’s homepage, you can create a quick notebook in just one step: go to the new note icon (bottom right corner), and the app creates a new notebook with your default page template. You can choose the default page template for your notebooks by going back to the homepage and going to the three-bar icon (top left corner) > settings icon (top right corner) > Style of new notes. You can then choose the Style, Template, and Colour. (We covered these settings in detail in the infinite scrolling lesson).

All the new quick notebooks you create in the app will have these settings. You can then name your quick notebook (tap Title on the top left corner of the screen), choose a folder (Folders) for it, or create a new one (Create folder, bottom of popup window). For the new folder, you can name and choose a colour for it. Add (bottom right corner) to save the new folder. Select the new folder you have just created, as it is not automatically selected. Now, your quick notebook is ready for taking notes.

Custom page templates

Samsung Notes lets you save custom page templates to the app’s template library. To get started, go to the three-dots icon, then Page template. If you don’t see the option, activate the note-taking mode in the app (tap the square-and-pen icon). Scroll down to the bottom of the popup window to the Downloaded section. At the bottom of the popup menu, you can add custom page templates from Images or PDFs.

To add an image template, go to the plus icon to add one from Gallery or Photos. Select the image you want, and adjust the part of the image you want to use for the page template. You can also zoom in and out of the image and even adjust its Opacity (right side of the screen). Tap Done to save the changes and add a new page with the new template to your current notebook. Go to the three-dots icon under Page template to see your saved custom templates. The new template is automatically selected. You can delete several custom templates by tapping the bin icon. Go to the minus icon on each template you want to delete. Tap Done to save the changes. The up-facing arrow can hide and show (down-facing arrow) your custom templates when you toggle it.

Under the PDFs tab, you can save complete PDFs to Samsung Notes’ template library. Go to the Downloaded section and tap the plus icon. You can add files from the internal or any cloud storage you are signed into on your device. Select the PDF you want and tap Done to save it. Unlike the image template, PDF templates aren’t automatically added to your current notebook. You can repeat this process to add as many PDF templates as you need.

PDF templates show the number of pages in each. In Samsung Notes, we have our digital notebooks and planners that you can import into the app and use as templates. Tapping a PDF template adds all the pages in that template where you are in your notebook. Deleting them is similar to deleting image templates. Image templates in Samsung Notes only have one page, unlike the PDF ones.

Importing PDFs

You can import PDF documents from the homepage or workspace. From within the workspace, go to the attachment icon (top right corner) and choose PDF. Like with your PDF templates, you can import PDFs from your device’s internal or cloud storage. The app can import multiple documents into your notebook. Tap Done, and all the PDF documents are automatically added to your currently opened notebook.

On the homepage, go to the PDF icon (top right corner) and choose the documents you want to import. The app will ask to Add them all to one note (to combine or merge all the documents in one notebook) or Create separate notes to import the PDFs as separate documents into the app. Samsung Notes can only import PDFs (digital notebooks, planners, textbooks, etc). It cannot import .docx, .doc, .ppt, .pptx, or images. The app doesn’t even show them when you open your folders; it only shows PDF documents.

Favourites toolbar

For pens, pencils, and highlighters you use often, you can add them to a favourites toolbar so you don’t keep customising them each time you want to use them. After customising a tool, tap the star icon to add it to the favourites toolbar. Favourite tools have a yellow star icon. To view all your favourite tools, go to the starred pen icon. Under the three-dots icon, you can Add (customise > tap Done) and Delete (tap the minus icon appearing on the top left corner > tap Done) tools from your favourites toolbar. You can also scroll down to the plus icon to add a tool.

Tap the arrows to maximise the favourites toolbar. You can move it around anywhere on the screen. To rotate it, go to the three-dots icon and Rotate. Tapping the back arrow minimises it to show your currently selected tool with its colour and thickness options. Tapping the tool shows more favourites but not the full favourites toolbar. The back arrow takes you back to the one tool, and this is the mode that allows you to remove the favourites toolbar from the app (x icon). Tapping the starred pen icon in the one-favourite mode maximises the favourites toolbar.

Toolbar customisation

In Samsung Notes, the first five tools on the toolbar are fixed. You can rearrange or remove the rest. To get started, go to the app’s homepage, the three-bar icon (top left corner), the settings icon (top right corner), and then scroll down to Customise toolbar. You can drag and drop tools to remove or rearrange them on the toolbar. The app can also Reset (top right corner) to the default settings for your toolbar.

The Pen colour and Pen thickness tools are further customisable. Tap the down-facing arrow for the Pen colour tool to choose the number of colours you want to save on the toolbar (three, four, or five). The Pen thickness tool can have one, two, or three saved thicknesses on the toolbar. In the app’s workspace, you can then customise what these are so you can quickly change pen thickness and colour when taking notes in the app.

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