Get The Most From Your Samsung Galaxy S5 with 16 Tips and Tricks

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 14 Apr 2014

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a significant physical and figurative phone. Locked within its slightly boring plastic shell is mega-powerful hardware running the most special software from the world’s top Android manufacturer. When a phone has as many features as this one, figuring out where everything is and how it works can be a little daunting. Samsung’s Touchwiz Android skin used to be horrific but has dramatically improved. All you need is a little primer on where all the best stuff is hiding and what features are worth your time. These tips will help you make the most of your shiny new GS5.

Sort the App Drawer

The default arrangement for the Galaxy S5 app drawer is alphabetical. Still, you can set it to group apps however you like. Tap the menu button in the corner to change View to custom. That menu lets you create folders in the app drawer for better organization.


The Toolbox is one of those features that made a ton of sense but wasn’t very prominent, all tucked away in the settings menu. This was a floating icon, think Facebook, chat head that opened a list of customizable app shortcuts. It could be toggled on and off with the button. You will find the expected notifications in the notifications drawer. You can configure which apps are listed in the main system settings for the Toolbox under Sound Display.


The updated Touchwiz home screen has a voice search with hot-word detection. If you can see the search bar, you can say OK to launch the voice interface. Tell your phone which you want to call or text, or ask it common questions to get search results or the Google Feed. It was almost identical to stock Android devices but a little fancier.

Register Fingerprints for Better Accuracy

The Galaxy S5 fingerprint reader was a little finicky, but setting up your prints correctly went a long way toward improving the accuracy. You get eight swipes to register each track, but don’t just hold your finger straight up and down every time. Tilt it side-to-side several times so the phone learns what the patterns look like in different directions.

Kill S Voice

It was strange that S Voice still existed, considering the more prominent role of Google’s voice function on the Galaxy S5’s home screen. S Voice was still hidden behind a double-press of the home button. But that came at a cost; after a single press of the home button, the phone will delay briefly to wait and see if you will press it again to activate S Voice. Yeah, not likely, Samsung. Get rid of the delay by going into the S Voice app settings and disabling the option to wake up via the home button.

One-Handed Mode

With a big phone, the one-handed operation can sometimes be an issue with the Galaxy S5. To help with that, head into the main system settings, and find One-handed operation under Sound Display. Once enabled, you can toggle it on with a quick edge gesture, swipe in from the edge of the screen toward the middle, and back out again. The screen shrinks toward the lower right corner, making it easier to reach everything.

High Screen Sensitivity

Buried in the settings is an option to make Galaxy S5 owners in colder climates happy in the winter. High screen sensitivity mode lets you use the device with regular gloves rather than those special touchscreen gloves. This feature can be found in the Display sub-menu or a few rows in the notification toggles.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

You need not fear a dead battery when you’re away from the charger with a nearly empty Galaxy S5. The new Ultra power saving mode can give you substantially more standby time by shutting off C-cores and blocking background tasks. And flipping the screen to a delicious retro-black-white theme. The toggle for Ultra Power Saving Mode is in the notification area, but you’ll need to check it out to get your apps set up before you need it.

Separate Home Lock Screen and Wallpaper

Many Android devices use your home screen wallpaper on the lock screen. Still, Samsung offers you the option to set these individually. Check the Settings for the wallpaper item, then select home screen, lock screen, or both from the menu before picking an image.

Disable Built-in Apps

Both Samsung and your carrier have been kind enough to include some non-removable apps that you’ll probably never use; thanks, guys. While you can’t truly delete them, you can at least disable them, so they don’t show up in the app drawer or run in the background. Head to the Application Manager settings and swipe to the All Apps tab. Open the info screen for any app you want to silence, and tap Turn off. Alternatively, you can long-press on an icon in the app drawer and drag it up to the Disable link at the top of the screen. To re-enable any of these apps, go to Settings > Applications > Application Manager and look for the Turned off a column on the far right.

S Finder

The notification shade in Touchwiz is graced by two new, non-removable buttons, one of which is S Finder. This helpful universal search app finds matching apps, calendar appointments, browsing history, bookmarks, contacts, messages, files, settings, and more. It’s a great way to find that sneaky hidden setting buried 4 sub-menus deep. You might as well make use of it.

Customize Notification Toggles

The handy buttons at the top of the notification shade might not contain all the settings you want. But that’s no problem for someone like you who had the good judgment to buy a Galaxy S5. To customize these buttons, open the toggle list with the button in the upper right corner, then tap the edit button in that same area. You can drag the buttons from this menu, so the ones you use most are easily accessible.

Blocking Mode

That drunk phone call from your idiot friends at 2 in the morning will never again trouble you after setting up this feature. First, open Blocking Mode under personalization in the main system settings. Then, decide what notifications you want to block, calls, alarms, or all information. You won’t be bothered during your quiet hours unless you get a call from a favorite contact.

Disable My Magazine

Samsung’s My Magazine is a Flipboard widget that takes up a whole home screen panel. Even if that sounds neat, it’s absolutely slow. If you want to turn it off, just long-press on the home screen and open the home screen settings. There’s a checkbox for turning the My Magazine panel on and off. I strongly suggest off.

Hit Quick Settings

Samsung’s quick settings are shown at the top of the main system settings list. In a handy shortcut for commonly accessed menus. To tweak the list of which settings show up here, go to Settings. Hit the on-screen menu, and select quick settings. This screen allows you to keep any 12 pages from the settings list at the top.

Screen Indicator Swipe

As your list of apps and widgets grows. You might end up with many pages on the home screen in the app drawer. Swiping again and again to get through all of it is liable to give you finger strain or something. Touchwiz has a solution, though. First, tap the indicator dots at the bottom of the home screen app drawer. Then drag left or right to zip through pages in a flash.