The best S Pen apps for your Samsung Galaxy Note

Put that tiny stylus to use with these productivity tools, artistic apps, and games.

s pen apps
Credit: Derek Walter
Put that S-Pen to work (and play)

The S Pen has been a key differentiator for the Galaxy Note line, letting you scribble away on that giant phablet screen while others are left to rely on their fumbly fingers. 

It’s not for everyone, but Galaxy Note owners tend to be a devoted group, swearing that they’ll never give up their beloved stylus. 

While Samsung has built in some software to support the S-Pen in the Galaxy Note 5, there are several apps in the Play Store that will have you wielding your stylus even more frequently. Our collection looks at some good options for photo editing, note-taking, illustration, and even a game for good measure.

Do you have a favorite, S Pen friendly app? If so, be sure to give it a shout out in the comments.

Updated 08/23/16:Updated our list, just in time for the Note 7.

colorfy
Colorfy

Adult coloring books are the new, hot trend. Take the concept that helps grow-ups disengage from their stressful lives to your Galaxy Note with Colorfy.

It's not a true coloring app in the sense you don't actually scribble in colors. Instead you choose which color goes on the painting and tap the spot to add it in. Nonethless, it's pretty fun. 

There are plenty of drawings, ranging from random dots to classic works of art. As always, you can upgrade with additional color tools through an in-app purchase.

Colorfy (free)

evernote widget
Evernote Widget

You probably know about Evernote, but if you have a Galaxy Note you may want to throw down one of the app's widgets. That's because you'll then have one-touch access from the home screen to pen input. You can then start scribbling away with your S Pen on a new note. 

Evernote is a great tool for S Pen users, as the app will recognize your text and has a lot of different color and highlighting options.

Evernote Widget (free)

handwrite pro
HandWrite Pro Note & Draw

If you're looking for a vector-based drawing app, this is a good solution. It has a lot of tools for manipulating images along with the traditional pen input that puts your stylus to work. 

While the app is free, a premium package allows you to export files in SVG format for later editing on the desktop. Another option is a calligraphic pen if you want to turn your Galaxy Note into a showcase for your calligraphy skills.

HandWrite Pro Note & Draw (free)

squid
Squid

Squid (because squids make ink, get it?) lets you jot down notes as you would in a notebook. Okay, there are plenty of apps that do that.

But Squid goes a step further. You can mark up PDFs (and export as PDF, too). You can import images and draw shapes. Perhaps best of all, you can broadcast your device like a whiteboard using Miracast or Chromecast. 

Everything is vector-based, so notes remain small and zoom perfectly to any device.

Squid (free)

scribble racer
Scribble Racer

Who says that S-Pen has to be only about productivity? Scribble Racer shows that it can be a pretty solid gaming controller. This game was built specifically for the S Pen, which you use to stay inside the lines of an obstacle course that scrolls along the screen. There are three difficulty modes, with the hardest level serving as quite the challenge given its rapid accelelration.

Scribble Racer works with any other stylus or your finger, but don’t expect as good of an experience with the latter. The tiny tip to the S Pen gives you the best accuracy.

It’s free to download, but I found it so much fun it was worth the $1 to nix the ads, which take up part of the screen. The upgrade also speeds up moving to a new round, as you don’t have to pause between sessions for advertising.

Scribble Racer (free)

google handwriting keyboard
Google Handwriting Input

The promise of the S-Pen is that you can do more handwriting on your phone. The recently-launched Google Handwriting Input keyboard is a perfect companion if you like popping out the stylus frequently.

It’s a full-blown Android keyboard that translates your handwriting into text. It even recognizes cursive, though you’ll just have to take Google’s word for it since technology killed that skill for me long ago.

This could be great for kids, who are still learning their way around the keyboard or for those who still prefer to write things out. It also switches back to the main Google Keyboard with one press of the globe icon.

Google Handwriting Input (free)

how to draw
How to Draw

One of the best thing about a stylus is being able to easily doodle on your phone. You have all the drawing equipment you need with you at all times!

But what if you don't know how to draw? Well, nothing like using your stylus-equipped phone to build a new skill, right? The appropriately-named How to Draw app steps you through some of the basic skills needed to turn your awful doodles into recognizable objects.

How to Draw (free)

autodesk sketchbook
Autodesk Sketchbook

A sketching app is perfect for the Galaxy Note, and Autodesk Sketchbook doesn’t disappoint. 

If nothing else it’s a great way to re-introduce doodling into your life, which is always handy when you’re stuck in a boring meeting. It gives you a blank slate and several pen and nearly limitless color choices for your creations. You can zoom in up to 2500 percent, which combined with the S-Pen can give you some great precision.

If you want to do more than make terrible drawings of golf courses (pictured), then consider the pro tools for $3.99. You get 100 preset pencils, pens, markers, and brushes, along with several workflow guides, like rules and radial options.

You can back up your creations if you connect the app to Dropbox.

Autodesk SketchBook (free)

snapseed
Snapseed

Google recently resurrected its Snapseed photo editing app from dormancy, and it’s perfect for whipping up some quick edits with your S-Pen. 

You can add in a quick filter a la Instagram, or use the stylus for more precise editing with a brush, spot repair, tool, and other methods for tinkering. 

Snapseed is by no means the only capable photo editor, with other great choices like Lightroom and Autodesk Pixlr out there. But if you want an excellent, free solution that plays nice with your Google photos then you’ll be very happy with Snapseed. Once Google gets going with an app like this, it tends to elevate its feature set pretty quickly, so keep an eye out for new tools.

Snapseed (free)

microsoft onenote android
OneNote

OneNote has been at the inking game for 12 years, first debuting in the days of Windows XP tablets (those were painful days).

OneNote recently added a chat-head style button called a "floatie" that puts a new note just one touch away. You also can launch a note with a persistent notification from the drop-down menu.

Now you have one-touch access to add a written note with that handy S Pen.

Microsoft has seriously stepped up its game on Android, making OneNote part of a really good Office suite. It may not pull you over if you’re an Evernote die-hard, but it has a lot to offer with deep tie-ins to Microsoft’s strong, cross-platform Office effort.

OneNote (free)

myscript
MyScript

MyScript offers three clever apps that are perfect for a Galaxy Note. 

With MyScript Calculator you can write out a calcuation by hand and the app will translate it to numbers and then solve the problem. It has a few quirks: you’ll need to use an “x” for multiplication instead of the dot operator. It does support a variety of calculation methods and trigonemetry signs. 

MyScript Smart Note is another notetaking option if you don't want to stick with the stock Galaxy app. MyScript will recognize your hand-written words (provided they're not too sloppy) and make them searchable.

MyScript Stylus (Beta) is for using the stylus to input text anywhere on your device, transforming your writing into readable text. As it's still in beta, expect a few bugs and hiccups.

MyScript apps (free)

adobe fill and sign
Adobe Fill & Sign DC

Don’t get annoyed next time you get an email and it requires an actual signature. Just whip out your S-Pen and make sure you have this helpful app from Adobe.

Once you create a signature, the app will insert it to the right place on any PDF. You can also create a form-fill profile to quickly insert the information into all those lengthy forms.

Adobe Fill & Sign DC (Document Cloud) also lets you take a picture of a paper file to transform into a digital version, which you can then sign and send off to whomever you need.

Adobe Fill & Sign DC (free)

inkredible
Inkredible

Inkredible eschews a lot of the bells and whistles from other note-taking apps to focus on building a great writing experience.

It’s probably the closest thing to Paper on Android, as it feels very accurate with the S-Pen and draws you in to partake in the lost art of doodling. It won’t be ideal for meeting notes as it doesn’t scan your words into text; instead it for someone who truly wants a digital version of a notebook for drawing, doogling, or just random thoughts.

If you enjoy it, you can partake of the in-app upgrades that will nix the ads, give you additional pens, and offer different paper templates. There are choices for calligraphy, music, and graphing paper.

Inkredible (free)

virtual tablet
Virtual Tablet

If you're a teacher or do a lot of presentations, an app like Virtual Tablet can free you from behind stuck behind the computer. With the app and desktop software your stylus turns into a mouse. Hover over your screen to move the mouse and touch your Note to perform a click. It worked great on my Note 4 and MacBook Pro, which connected quickly by recognizing the IP address.

There's a free, ad-supported version if you want to try it out first.

Virtual Tablet ($3.96)