10 tips to make the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 the best it can be

You spent a lot on this tablet, so you might as well use everything it has to offer.

tab s3 tips main
Ryan Whitwam

Make the most of that slick new tablet

Some Android OEMs have backed off making tablets over the last couple years. Not Samsung, though. It always seems to have another Android slate in the pipeline, boring though many of them are. The Galaxy Tab S3 certainly isn't. This is a premium tablet with a sleek metal and glass chassis, and it ships with a redesigned S Pen stylus. It's not cheap, though. Here are ten tips to help you take full advantage of your spendy new tablet.

tab s3 tips quick settings

Customize quick settings

Samsung ships the Tab S3 with Android Nougat, so you’ve got the standard customizable quick settings, plus a little extra functionality courtesy of Samsung. To edit your quick settings, open them and tap the menu button at the very top of the screen. From here you can either reorder or change the layout. When reordering, long-press and drag to move, add, or remove tiles. The top few tiles will remain visible at the top of your notification shade as well. The button layout option lets you set either a 4x3 or 5x3 grid for your quick settings. If you don’t need access to many settings, the looser grid makes each icon larger and easier to press.

tab s3 tips icon and text size

Change icon and text size

The Tab S3 has a reasonably spacious 9.7-inch screen, but Samsung chose to waste a lot of space by setting the default icon and text size to “ginormous.” You can (and should) make it a little smaller. Open Settings > Display > Screen zoom and font, then use the slider to change the zoom and font size. I think they’re fine at the smallest setting, but you might want them a notch larger. The smaller you set them, the more content can fit on the screen.

tab s3 tips air command

Customize Air Command

Air Command offers quick access to stylus-oriented features. Just press the S Pen's button and Air Command will appear. But don't let Samsung tell you what to include in Air Command—you can add your own and remove the default ones. Open Air Command and tap the "Add shortcut" button. The active shortcuts are listed on the right side of the screen. Tap any app on the left to add or remove it from list. You can also choose to hide the floating Air Command bubble when it's not in use by going to Advanced features > S Pen > Air Command > Floating icon.

tab s3 tips handwriting input

Handwriting input everywhere

Samsung’s keyboard includes a handwriting input option, but what if you don’t want to use the Samsung keyboard? You can still use handwriting input when you’ve got the S Pen out. This is called direct pen input, and it’s enabled by default. Simply hover over a text field until a small text icon pops up. Tap that with the S Pen and a handwriting frame appears at the bottom of the screen. Start scrawling there and the tablet transcribes it to text as you go. Tap “Done” to insert the text and leave direct pen input mode.

tab s3 tips s pen text selection

S Pen text selection

Android lets you select and copy text from a lot of places, but the Tab S3 and S Pen can select almost any text. Press and hold the S Pen button, then drag across the text you want to highlight. It works in menus, on the home screen, and in apps. When highlighted, you can copy, share, or define text with the built-in dictionary.

tab s3 tips split screen and pop up view

Split-screen and Pop-up View

The Galaxy Tab S3 is the most powerful Android tablet for multitasking; you just need to take advantage of all it has to offer. It’s running Nougat, so split-screen is supported in almost all apps. Weirdly, the quickest way to open split-screen mode is off by default. Head into Settings > Advanced features > multi-window and turn on “Split-screen view action.” That lets you long-press the overview button to move an app to split-screen.

Samsung has also retained its custom Pop-up View, allowing you to also have apps run in a floating window. This doesn’t work with all apps, but it’s still useful. To open Pop-up View, drag down from the top left or right corner to set the window size. Both split-screen and Pop-up can be active at the same time for a remarkably desktop-like experience.

tab s3 tips smart select

Smart Select

Samsung brought over one of the Note 7’s premiere features to the Tab S3—a screen capture tool called Smart Select. It’s accessible from the Air Command menu. When activated, it pulls up a selection tool with options for a square, circular, or lasso mode. Pick one and use the S Pen to draw the selection area. It’ll be instantly cropped out so you can edit, extract text, and draw on it. There’s also a GIF mode that captures an area of the screen and saves the animation to your tablet.

tab s3 tips screen off memo

Screen-off memo

The Tab S3 is great for taking notes, and you don’t even have to unlock it to jot something down. Screen-off memo is another holdover from the Note7. Simply hold the S Pen near the screen while the tablet is asleep and press the side button. The display will wake up to a black screen with basic editing tools. Scribble your note, hit save, and you’re done. Saved notes are added to Samsung’s built-in note app, which syncs to your Samsung account.

tab s3 tips custom power saving

Set up custom power saving

The 6,000 mAh battery in the Tab S3 will keep you chugging for a few days, but you can eke out a little more life when the battery begins to sputter. There are two power-saving modes, and the settings can be modified to suit your usage. Power saving is accessible in Settings > Device maintenance > Battery. There’s a “Mid” and “Max” setting for battery saving. Tapping on either of them brings up an interface where you can apply the power saving mode. This is also where the customize option is. The power saving modes have configurable display brightness level, as well as on/off toggles for CPU speed limiting and background network usage. The settings you choose will be saved so you can just flip power saving on next time you need to save some juice.

tab s3 tips secure folder

Secure folder

This tablet has Samsung’s Knox security framework built-in, and that means you have access to Secure Folder. It’s not just a folder—Secure Folder is a place to run apps and manage files that are separate from the main system and completely secure. You need to have a secure lock method enabled on your tablet to use Secure Folder. Also be aware it will take a few minutes to create the encrypted space.

When it’s all set, you can add copies of any app on your tablet to the Secure Folder. These copies will only be accessible in Secure Folder, so the data they contain is completely secure. The same goes for files you add to Secure Folder. There’s no way to access any of them without your unlock code. Even the screenshots you take in Secure Folder are kept safe and sound inside the encrypted directory.

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