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Galaxy S4: The Missing Manual by Preston Gralla

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Chapter 1. The Guided Tour

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You’ll learn to:

  • Lock and unlock the screen

  • Add apps and widgets and change wallpaper

  • Use easy mode

  • Replace the battery

  • Control the S4 by touch and with the magic of gestures

THE SAMSUNG GALAXY S4—a svelte, elegant phone—is an enticing gadget, and the first time you hold it in your hands, you’ll immediately want to put it through its paces: calling friends, browsing the Web, checking your email, and more. As you’ll see in the rest of this book, it can do some remarkable things that make you feel as if the phone has superpowers.

To help you unlock all those powers, though, you need a solid understanding of how the Galaxy S4 works and familiarity with all its different parts. You’ll want to know where all its buttons, keys, and ports are located, for example—not to mention how to get to your Home screen and panes, and use some of the device’s amazing new features, like its ability to let you navigate by merely moving your eyes.

Power/Lock Button

THREE-QUARTERS OF THE WAY up on the right side of the Galaxy S4, you’ll find a small, rectangular silver button. It may be only a single button, but it’s a hardworking one, and it performs multiple functions. Press it with your S4 turned off, and your S4 springs to life. Press and release it when your S4 is turned on and active, and it puts the phone into Standby mode. If your S4 is turned on, press and hold it and a screen appears that lets you do the following:

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  • Power off. Turns off the S4’s power.

  • Airplane mode. In Airplane mode, all wireless communications are switched off, but you can still use the phone’s apps and other features. Tap this option to enter Airplane mode. If you’re already in Airplane mode, tap again to get out. As the name suggests, Airplane mode is what the cabin crew wants you to turn on while in the air.

  • Restart. Turns off your S4 and restarts it.

  • Mute. Turns off all sounds.

  • Vibrate. Turns off vibration. If vibration is turned off, you can turn it back on here.

  • Sound. If your phone is muted, tap here to turn the sound back on.


The Power/Lock button also performs a useful trick that people near you will appreciate—it shuts off your ringer when you receive a call. Press it once when you get a call, and your ringer turns off. You’ll be able to see who’s calling, without the ring, and decide whether to answer the call or ignore it. If you ignore the call, it gets sent to voicemail.

Locking the Screen

When you put the Galaxy S4 on Standby using the Power/Lock button, the screen stops responding to touch. It blacks out, indicating that the screen is locked. Always lock the screen before putting the Galaxy S4 in your pocket or bag to avoid accidental screen taps and potentially embarrassing unintended phone calls. In fact, every time you leave the phone untouched for a certain amount of time—as little as 15 seconds to as much as 10 minutes (Brightness)—the screen automatically locks itself.

While the screen is locked, the Galaxy S4 still operates behind the scenes, checking email and Facebook on schedule. You can still get phone calls and text messages, and even listen to music while the screen is locked.

When you again want to use the Galaxy S4, you’ll need to unlock it. Press the Power button or the Home key. Then put your fingertip on the screen and slide it to the right or left. Your Galaxy S4 is now ready to do your bidding. You’ll get notifications about missed calls, text messages, and so on. If you’ve set up a PIN on your phone so that only someone with a password can use it, you’ll have to type in the PIN before you can use your phone. (See Screen lock for details on how to set up a PIN.)

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You can adjust the amount of time it takes for the Galaxy S4 to lock itself. You can also turn off Locked mode entirely. And for added security, you can also require that a password be used to unlock your S4, or even that a specific finger swiping motion be performed on the keyboard before it can be unlocked. For details, see Screen lock.

Headset Jack

AT THE TOP OF the Galaxy S4, you’ll find a 3.5-millimeter headset jack. Notice that it’s a head set jack, not just a garden-variety head phone jack. It doesn’t just let you listen; it accepts incoming sound as well. That’s so you can plug a headset (like an earbud headset) into it and use it for making phone calls.

Of course, it’s also a headphone jack, so you can plug in headphones or even external speakers and enjoy the phone as a music machine, since it also offers full stereo.

About the Screen

THE SCREEN IS WHERE you and the Galaxy S4 do most of your communicating with each other. Compare the Galaxy S4’s screen to that of almost any other phone, and you’ll immediately notice how roomy it is—5 inches, measured diagonally (technically, that’s 1920 x 1080 pixels). It’s got extremely high resolution (443 pixels per inch, for the techie crowd). When you turn it sideways, it switches to a widescreen TV and movie format.

But there’s a lot going on behind that pretty display.


Because you’re going to be touching the display with your fingers, it’s going to get dirty and streaky. Simply wipe it clean with a soft, lint-free cloth or tissue. The screen is scratch-resistant, but if you’re worried about scratches, get a case or screen protector. See Appendix B for ideas.

Built-in Sensors

Underneath its flat black screen, the Galaxy S4 has a whole bunch of sensors that perform a lot of its magic:

  • Proximity sensor. Have you ever noticed that when you’re talking on your S4, the screen often goes blank? That’s thanks to the proximity sensor. It senses when your face is close to it during a phone call and automatically turns off and blanks the touch screen as you keep talking. It does this to save power, and so you don’t accidentally touch the screen while talking and perform some unwanted task.

  • Ambient light sensor. Senses the light level and adjusts your screen’s brightness as a way to save battery power. So in bright light, it makes the screen brighter and easier to see: in dim light, it makes the screen dimmer, since bright light is not needed.

  • Accelerometer. As its name implies, this sensor measures acceleration and motion. The Galaxy S4 uses the accelerometer to sense the orientation of the screen and turn it to either landscape or portrait mode. But clever app makers use it for other things as well, such as automatic collision notification, which detects when you’re in an accident and then automatically makes a call for assistance for you. There’s even an app that works with the phone’s magnetometer to detect potholes as you drive, and create a log about their locations, which you can then email to your local department of public works. (It’s called Pothole Agent. Search for it on Google Play, as described on Using Google Play Store.)

  • Magnetometer. Measures the strength and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s used for compass apps and can also work with the accelerometer.

  • Gyroscope. This measures motion and is used for a host of features. For example, the S4 uses the gyroscope in concert with the accelerometer to interpret motion gestures you make and let you operate the phone by waving your hands.

  • Humidity, pressure, temperature. The obvious use of these sensors is for weather and related apps. But that’s not necessarily their most important uses. In combination with WiFi and GPS, they can also be used for indoor navigation and location apps, for example, mapping out shopping malls, museums, and more. These kinds of location apps aren’t available yet, but likely will be soon.

  • Infrared gesture. This sensor uses infrared light to sense your gestures so that you can control the S4 without touching it. Yes, you read that right. You can control it by waving and other gestures thanks to this sensor. And as you’ll see later in this chapter, you can even control scrolling by moving your eyes. (You’ll learn all about these tricks later in this chapter on Pinch and Spread.)

Status Bar Icons

THE GALAXY S4 MAKES sure to keep you updated with information about its current status and any news, updates, and information it thinks is important. It does so by displaying a variety of icons in the status bar at the top of the screen. The status bar is divided into two parts. On the right side, you’ll find icons that inform you about the current state of the Galaxy S4, such as signal strength, 3G or 4G connection status, the time of day, and so on. At left is the Notification area, which alerts you when you have email or voice messages waiting, an event on your calendar is about to occur, and more.

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Many applications have their own icons that notify you about news, information, and updates. These always appear on the left side of the status bar. You’ll see alert icons from Gmail, Facebook, and others.

Here are the most common icons you’ll come across:

  • Cell signal. The more bars you see, the stronger the signal. The stronger the signal, the clearer the call and the lower the likelihood that you’ll lose a connection. If you have no connection at all, instead of this signal, you’ll see the much-hated warning: (No service).


    When you see a notification on the left side of the status bar, drag down the Notification panel to see more details. You can also act upon the notification by tapping its icon after you drag it down—like checking your email or running an app that you’ve just downloaded. There’s also a Clear button that makes all notifications go away.

  • Roaming. If you’re outside your carrier’s service area and connected via another network, you’ll see the Roaming icon. Keep in mind that typically you’re charged for making calls or using data when you’re roaming, so when you see this icon, be careful what you do on your Galaxy S4—maybe it’s not the time to download 30 songs and a half-hour TV show.

  • 3G/4G. This one appears when you’re connected via 3G or 4G high-speed broadband service, which should be most of the time. It means that download and upload speeds are fast. The little arrows underneath the symbol show when data is being sent and received. You’ll notice that the arrows may turn black even when you think you’re not sending or receiving data. That’s because the Galaxy S4 may be checking for email, updates, and so on.

  • Bluetooth connection. This icon indicates that you’ve turned on Bluetooth, for making a connection to a headset or some other device.

  • Mobile hotspot. Your Galaxy S4 can serve as a mobile hotspot, providing Internet service to up to five computers, smartphones, or other devices and gadgets via WiFi. See Turning Your Galaxy S4 into a WiFi Hotspot or Tethering It for details. When you turn the phone into a mobile hotspot, this icon appears.

  • Airplane mode. When you use Airplane mode, you turn off WiFi and cellular communications, so you can still keep using your phone’s apps, but it doesn’t interfere with navigation equipment.

  • Downloading. When you’re downloading an app or media file, you’ll see this icon.

  • New email message. You’ve got mail! See Reading Mail for more about reading new email.

  • GPS. Your GPS radio is turned on.

  • Upcoming event. Now you’ll never forget your anniversary—or your dentist appointment. The Galaxy S4 alerts you via this icon when you’ve got an event about to happen.

  • Voicemail message. You’ve got mail—voicemail, that is. (See Visual Voicemail to learn how to check your voicemail.)

  • Missed call. Someone called you, and you didn’t answer. You see this icon appear even if the person left no voicemail.

  • Vibrate. This symbol indicates that you’ve set your Galaxy S4 to vibrate when you get a call.

  • TTY symbol. You’ve turned on Teletypewriter mode, a special mode that lets the Galaxy S4 communicate with a teletypewriter. That’s a machine that deaf people use to conduct phone calls by reading and typing text.

  • Alarm. Who needs an alarm clock when you’ve got your Galaxy S4? This icon indicates that the alarm is on. You can even set multiple alarms.

  • Time. Shows you what time it is. Say goodbye to your watch.


    Want to see today’s date? Hold your finger on the right end of the status bar, and the date appears. Remove your finger and it goes away.

  • Battery. Get to know this icon—it shows you how much battery life you’ve got left. When the battery is charging, you see a battery-filling animation and a tiny lightning bolt.

  • Connected to VPN. If you use your Galaxy S4 to connect to your company network via virtual private networking (VPN), this icon shows when your connection is active. You can check your work email and do anything else your company lets VPNers do. (If you’re interested in getting VPN access, you’ll need your IT department’s help, as described in Chapter 14.)

  • Disconnected from VPN. You were on the VPN, and now you’re off.

  • USB connection. You’ll connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable for a variety of reasons, including copying and syncing files (Chapter 13). Here’s the icon you’ll see when you make the connection.

  • SD card is full. This icon appears when your SD card (MicroSD Card) has run out of space. It’s time to get a bigger or newer one, or start deleting files.

  • Smart Scroll. This icon appears when you’re using the S4’s amazing Smart Scroll feature, which lets you scroll through pages by moving your eyes (Pinch and Spread).

The Three Keys

Most of the time you use your Galaxy S4, you’ll be tapping on virtual buttons on the keyboard. But down at the bottom of the Galaxy S4, there are three keys, one fat, black physical one and two virtual ones that light up only when you touch them. From left to right, here’s what they do.

This key opens up a menu that lets you perform some kind of task or customization related to what you’re currently doing. In geek-speak, it’s context sensitive, which is a fancy way of saying that the menu that appears changes according to what you’re doing at the time. So if you’re looking at your contacts, for example, the menu shows you options like deleting a contact or displaying only a certain group of contacts. If you’re looking at your calendar, you can quickly create a new event, change the time period that your calendar displays, or similar options.

When you’re at the Home screen and you press the Menu key, here’s the menu that appears and what each command does:

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  • Add apps and widgets. Lets you add a shortcut to your Home screen or a pane that when tapped launches an app or widget. A widget does things like set an alarm or show you how many apps are running. For details on shortcuts, see the note on Note.

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  • Create folder. As the name says, this option creates a folder that lets you store files.

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  • Set wallpaper. Tap this option, and you can change your Home and Lock screen wallpaper. Some of the choicest choices here are the live wallpapers that display changing information, like a windmill that reflects how windy it is at your current location. For more details, see Set wallpaper.

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  • Edit page. This lets you delete any one of your five (yes, that’s right, count ’em, five!) home screens, also called panes. You can even create a new pane. See Deleting and Adding Panes for details.

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  • Search. Tap here to search the Internet and your phone by using Google. See Searching Your Galaxy S4 for details.

  • Settings. Lets you change all your Galaxy S4 settings. For details, see Chapter 16.

Home Key

Repeat after me, Dorothy: There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.…Wherever you are on the Galaxy S4, press the Home key and you’ll come back to the familiar Home screen. You won’t even need to tap your ruby slippers together.

The key does more than just bring you home, though. Holding it down brings up a list of all your currently running apps. Tap any to jump right to it.

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Ah, but that’s just the beginning of what you can do. Look down at the bottom of the screen. Tap the icon of a chart on the left, and you come to an app manager. Most of the screen shows you which apps are running, along with details about them, such as how much RAM each takes up. Tap End, and you kill the app (and free up that RAM).

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If you tap the Downloaded button at the top of the screen, you see all the apps on your system, along with details, such as how much space they take up. Tap Uninstall to uninstall any.

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Tap RAM at the top of the screen, and you come to a simple RAM manager. It shows you how much RAM is currently being used. Sometimes apps are sloppy, and even after you close them down, they continue to use RAM. So tap “Clear memory,” and it clears up some of that left-behind RAM so you get more to use.


RAM stands for random access memory, and it’s the memory that your S4 uses to do things like run its operating system and apps.

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Tap Storage at the top of the screen, and you see how much storage you have on your S4, how much you’ve used up, and how much remains.

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Now, take a look back to the screen you get to when you hold down the Home key. Tap the Google icon at center bottom and you enter the world of Google Cards—a series of compact panels that give you any information important to you. Google Cards can keep you apprised of the weather, any trips you have coming up, what the traffic is like on the way to work, and more. See Using Cards in Google Now for details.

Finally, tap the icon of the X superimposed over three straight lines (it’s the rightmost icon), and you close down the list of apps.

Back Key

Wherever you are, tap this key, and you go to where you just were. The Back key works in apps as well as in menus. So when you’re browsing the Web, for example, it acts as your Back button. Pressing the Back key also makes a displayed keyboard or menu disappear.

Micro USB Port and Charger

FOR TRANSFERRING FILES AND syncing music and movies between your computer and the Galaxy S4, there’s a micro USB port at the bottom of the phone. A micro USB port is much smaller than the normal one on devices like printers. To connect the S4 to your computer, you’ll need a micro USB cable, one of which comes in the Galaxy S4 box. The S4 can connect to both Macs and PCs. When you connect your S4 to a computer by USB cable, your phone gets power and charge from the computer. But it charges at a much slower rate than when you use the normal charger.

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The Micro USB port is also a charger port. Connect the charger attachment to one end of the USB cable and the other end to your phone to start the charging process. If you use power-hungry features like video and GPS, you may have to charge the S4 every night. If you stick to mostly phone calls and text messages, you may be able to get by with charging only two or three times a week.


You can use the Galaxy S4 while it’s charging, unless the battery has run down completely. In that case, it’ll need to build up a charge before you can turn it on.

This port does one more thing as well. The S4 may be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but it’s still a big-time entertainment machine. That’s because it’s HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) capable. With it, you can view videos and photos taken on your Galaxy S4 right on your computer or TV screen—as long as they also have HDMI ports. Plug one end of the cable into your Galaxy S4, the other into your PC or TV, and you’re ready to go. What does that have to do with the USB port? Plenty: You can buy a special attachment to connect your phone to an HDMI device. See Connecting to the TV by Cable for details.


When you connect your Galaxy S4 to a PC for the first time, your PC may not recognize it. That’s because your PC may need special drivers (small pieces of software) to communicate with the Galaxy S4. Windows will try its mightiest to find the drivers, but there’s a chance it won’t be able to locate them. If it doesn’t, you can go over to the Samsung help website (www.samsung.com/us/support/) and search for Samsung Galaxy S4 drivers. Then download the drivers and follow the instructions for installing them.

Ringer Volume

IS YOUR RINGER TOO loud? Too soft? Get it just right by using this long silver key on the S4’s upper left. Press the top part to make the volume louder, and the bottom one to make it softer. When you press, a ringer volume app pops up on your screen, showing you how much louder or softer you’re making the ring.


THAT TINY LITTLE HOLE at the bottom of the Galaxy S4 is the microphone. Yes, it’s small, but it does the job very nicely.


THE GALAXY S4 HAS a battery cover. Yes, that’s right, an actual battery cover—you can remove the battery and replace it with a new one, unlike some other cellphones. To remove the battery, flip the S4 over, put your finger underneath the small plastic slot on the upper left and pull off the battery cover. You’ll see the battery, which you can easily remove by putting your finger into the slot at the bottom and gently pulling up. Don’t pull it hard or yank it.


Before removing the battery, make sure to turn the Galaxy S4’s power off via the Power/Lock key.

To replace the battery, simply put it back into place. After you’ve put the battery back in place, replace the battery cover. Now turn the phone back on.

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SIM Card

DEPENDING ON YOUR CARRIER, you may need a SIM card to use your phone. If so, you’ll get the SIM card when you buy the phone. The carrier may put it in for you, or you may need to do it yourself. It’s located above the battery. When you insert it, make sure the gold-colored contacts face down.

MicroSD Card

JUST ABOVE THE BATTERY, you’ll also find a small slot for the MicroSD card, which is about the size of a fingernail—and much smaller than the normal SD memory cards used in cameras. Your Galaxy S4 may not have come with an SD card, so you may have to buy one. The S4 can use one that stores up to 64 GB of data. Place the card in the slot with the arrow facing in. You’ll hear a click when it’s in place. After that, replace the battery cover.

After you install the card, and you turn on the phone, you’ll see a notification that the S4 is preparing the microSD card for your use. Then, go to the Home screen and press the Menu key. Select Settings→Storage. Scroll down, and you’ll find a new group of settings under “SD card,” listing information like how much total space is on the SD card and how much space remains. (If that information doesn’t appear, it means that your SD card hasn’t been formatted properly. There’s a simple solution: tap, “Mount SD card.” If your phone doesn’t recognize it after that, tap “Format SD card.” That should do the trick.)


If you’ve got a MicroSD card in your phone and you’ve stored files on it, make sure not to tap “Format SD card.” When you do that, you erase all the data stored on it.

If you want to replace the SD card—for example, if you have a 16 GB card and want to replace it with one that has more capacity—it’s easy. From the Home screen, press the Menu key, and then select Storage Settings. Then tap “Unmount SD card” in the SD card section.

When you’ve done that, turn off the phone’s power and remove the battery cover. You can then slide out the MicroSD card. Then insert a new MicroSD card and follow the instructions in this section for telling your Galaxy S4 to recognize it.


YOUR SAMSUNG GALAXY S4 includes not one, but two cameras, both capable of taking videos as well as photos. The camera on the back, which is the one you’ll normally use for taking photos and videos, has a whopping 13-megapixel resolution. The camera that faces you is primarily designed for video calling and video chat, although you can also take photos with it (self-portraits mostly). It’s got a 2-megapixel resolution. Don’t look for a physical camera button for taking photos; instead, you tap an onscreen button (Taking Still Photos).

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Samsung and Google Accounts

TO ENJOY ALL THE services your Galaxy S4 is capable of delivering, you need to have a Google account, and possibly a Samsung account as well. On your smartphone, an account is a central location for managing all the services you can get. The Google one is absolutely necessary, but you may want to set up a Samsung one as well. This section tells you what you need to know about each.

Google Account

In order to use your S4, you need a Google account. That’s because the S4’s underlying software is made by Google, and uses many Google services, such as Maps, Gmail, and more. If you already have a Google account—if you’ve ever used Gmail, for example—great! You can use that account and all the information and settings you’ve stored in it. Or, you can create a new Google account when you sign in to your S4 for the first time and start fresh.

When you first start your phone, it prompts you to walk through logging into your account or setting up a new one. After that, if you want to make changes, you can head to one central location. At the Home screen, press the Menu key, and then choose Settings→Accounts→Google.

Samsung Account

If you like to use additional Samsung services you can also set up a Samsung account. Otherwise, you don’t need it. Depending on your carrier, you may be prompted to create a Samsung account or log into an existing one when you first set up your phone, right after you log into or create a Google account. But if not, you can create one afterwards. At the Home screen, press the Menu key, and then choose Settings→Accounts→Add Account, and follow the prompts. To change settings, press the Menu key, and then choose Settings→Accounts→Samsung Account.

Home Screen

WELCOME TO YOUR NEW home, the Galaxy S4 Home screen. Get to it by pressing the Home key no matter where you are.


What you see on the Home screen and panes may differ somewhat from what you see here. Cell phone carriers often customize them, put their own apps on them, and sometimes even change them over time.

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The screen is chockful of useful stuff, populated by the following:

  • Status bar. As detailed on Status Bar Icons, this bar displays the status of many phone features and a variety of notifications, like when you’ve got email waiting for you.

  • App icons. Typically, the Home screen has four icons—one for checking email (right on the icon, you see how many new messages you’ve got), one for checking your calendar, one for using the camera, and one, called Play Store, to let you search for and download new apps—tens of thousands of them, many of them free. As you’ll see later in this section, you can add or delete icons from the Home screen.

  • Dock. Just below the app icons is a row of five icons. They sit in an area called the Dock, and they’re different from the app icons. Unlike the app icons, you can’t delete them. As you’ll see in a little bit, there are other screens you can move to, called panes or panels, but the icons in the Dock stay in place no matter which pane you visit. (The app icons change according to what pane you’re on.) The Phone icon launches the Phone app; the Contacts icon shows you your contacts; the Messaging icon lets you send and receive text messages (it shows how many messages you’ve got waiting); the Internet icon launches your web browser; and the Apps icon reveals a whole new screen called the App Drawer, filled with apps, apps, and more apps.

  • Pane indicator. Just above the Dock you’ll see four small circles, two on either side of an icon of a house—the Home screen. They each represent a different pane. The brightest circle shows you which pane you’re currently viewing. To jump to any pane, tap its button (or slide your finger across the screen).

Above the icons you’ll find widgets—a text input box for searching Google, a weather widget that shows you the current weather, and above that, the date and the time.

App Drawer

Press the Launcher icon, and up pops the App Drawer, which includes all the Galaxy S4’s preinstalled applications, plus any apps that you’ve downloaded and installed. There’s more than can fit on one screen, so swipe your finger to the right to get to another screen filled with them. Tap any icon to run the app.

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Look up at the top of the App Drawer. There are three tabs: Apps, Widgets, and Downloads (represented by a down-arrow icon). The Apps tab, naturally, shows all your apps. Tap Widgets, and you’ll see all the widgets on your S4—these are handy little gadgets that accomplish tasks for you, like displaying weather or traffic information.

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Tap the Download icon, and you’ll see just the apps that you’ve downloaded to your S4. Those apps also show up in the Apps tab, which lists every app on your S4, whether built in or downloaded.

The Panes

What you see on the four panes, two to either side of the Home screen, may vary according to your carrier, and what Samsung put there before you bought the phone. You may well see things onscreen that aren’t covered in this section.

In general, though, you’ll find apps and widgets that perform plenty of common and not-so-common things, like checking your calendar and weather, seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook and other social networking sites, playing music and videos, and more.

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To get to another pane, slide your finger to the left or right on the Home screen, and you move from the Home screen to one of the panes. What’s on the pane changes—you’ll generally see a mix of app icons and widgets. If you don’t like what you see on any pane, don’t worry; as you’ll see on Customizing the Home Screen and Panes, you can fiddle with it to your heart’s content. (The Dock, however, remains the same no matter where you go.) The pane indicator has changed—a different button now shines brighter, to show you which pane you’re on.

S Travel

Among the various apps and widgets on your panes, one will almost certainly be S Travel, Samsung’s travel app. It’s free and worthwhile to check out. Samsung didn’t build S Travel from the ground up by itself. Instead, it partnered with the TripAdvisor to provide the content and power the app. TripAdvisor is an extensive website for travelers, and S Travel puts the whole thing in the palm of your hand.

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It’s hard to miss S Travel—you’ll see a big widget for it on one of the panes, taking up about a third of the screen. Tap it to get started.

The first screen you come to asks to select a city to which you want to travel, or else to view popular destinations. To select a city, tap “Select city,” search for the city, and S Travel takes you straight to where you want to go.

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If you instead want to choose from popular destinations, life gets a bit more confusing. Start by tapping “Recommended destination.” But when you do that, nothing happens. You must tap the Back button—the one at the top left of your screen in the app, not the normal one at lower right. When you do that, the app sends you straight to a destination of its choosing—you get no say in the matter. But this method might be just the thing when you’re looking for new travel ideas.


Depending on your cell service provider, the S Travel app may instead be called TripAdvisor.

Whichever way you get there, you’ll soon get to a city. The information you see is all taken from the TripAdvisor site. It’s a tip-top place to start researching your trip.

If you’re looking for hotels, tap the Hotels link, and you can get the lowdown on places to stay, complete with ratings, reviews, price, and category information (romantic, family, business, and so on). Tap any to get more details about it, including reviews from people who have visited, photographs, its location on a map, and plenty more.


When you tap, you may be asked whether you want to download a free city guide app and use that to browse hotels instead. Or you can decline the city guide and continue using S Travel. Either way, you get the same information.

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Back on your destination’s main screen, you can get similar information about restaurants and things to do. You can also book flights and visit travel forums. The forums offer a wealth of detailed information—if you want to find out whether it’s better to travel between Florence and Sienna by train, bus, or car, for example, they’re the place to go.

Easy Mode and Standard Mode

WHEN IT COMES TO the basic layout of your Home screen, you’ve got two choices: Standard Mode and Easy Mode. In Standard mode, you see the normal home screen layout described so far in this chapter, with all its widgets and apps. But maybe you don’t want to see all those widgets and apps. Maybe you want something simpler, with big, easy-to-see icons. In that case, you want Easy Mode. On the Home screen, simply tap the Settings button, and then tap “Home screen mode.” On the screen that appears, choose Standard or Easy mode.

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Customizing the Home Screen and Panes

HERE’S ONE OF THE many nice things about the Galaxy S4—it’s easy to put your personal mark on it. Wish there were different apps on the Home screen? No problem; you can easily add them. Want to change the location of apps, or move around widgets and add new ones to each of your panes and the Home screen? It’s a breeze. The rest of this section shows you how.

Adding Widgets, Folders, Shortcuts, and Wallpaper

The Home screen and all its panes are much like a prepared canvas, waiting for your Picasso-like touches. Instead of paint, you can add widgets, shortcuts, and folders, and new, original wallpaper.

To do any of the above, the first step is the same: Press and hold your finger anywhere on the Home screen or a pane. A “Home screen” menu appears, with the following options.


The Home screen and panes have limited real estate—there’s only so much you can put on them. In fact, when the phone is factory fresh, the Home screen and panes may already be full. If you try to put something new on them, like an app or a widget, the S4 won’t let you do it. Nothing happens when you hold your finger on the screen or pane. In that case, you have two options: delete apps or widgets (Folders) or create a new pane (Deleting and Adding Panes).

Set wallpaper

Here’s where the Picasso part comes in. You can add a wallpaper image to the background of your Home screen, just like adding wallpaper to your computer desktop. When you select this option, you’re first asked whether you want to set wallpaper for your Home screen, Lock screen, or both.

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Make your selection. When you do, you have three choices—Gallery, Live wallpapers, or Wallpapers.

If you choose Gallery, you can take any of your own photos (Opening the Gallery) and use it as wallpaper. The Wallpaper choice lets you simply use a static wallpaper. No matter which you choose, you get to preview the wallpaper first. Live wallpapers are backgrounds that change, either because they’re animated or because they grab information from somewhere and then display it as part of the wallpaper background. So the Bubbles wallpaper, for example, displays bubbles rising, falling, growing, and moving across your screen. After you preview it, tap “Set wallpaper,” and you’re set.

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When you add wallpaper to your Home screen, it also shows up as the background on all your panes. And when you add it to a pane, it shows up on your Home screen.

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If you select a picture from the Gallery, you can crop the photo to fit the screen. The S4 suggests a crop for you. You can change it by moving any of the squares that define the crop. Make your selection, tap Done, and you’ll see only the cropped area fill your screen.

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Apps and widgets

This option lets you add apps or widgets to your Home screen or any pane. A widget is an applet that performs a small, specific task, often grabbing and displaying information from the Galaxy S4 or the Internet. When you select this option, you get sent to the App Drawer, with the Home screen or a pane in the background. You’ll see the familiar tabs along the top—Apps, Widgets, and the download icon. Tap either Apps or Widgets, depending on which you want to add. Swipe to see more apps or widgets if there are more than can fit on one screen. If you want to add an app, hold your finger on it. Then drag it up into the brighter portion of the screen above it and let it go.


When you add an app to your Home screen or a pane, you’re not actually moving that app to the screen or pane. Instead, you’re adding a shortcut to the app, and that’s a good thing. When you tap the shortcut, you run the app, just as if you had tapped it in the App Drawer. But there’s a difference: If you delete the shortcuts on the Home screen or pane, you don’t delete the app itself. It still lives on. But, if you delete the app from the App Drawer, it disappears from your S4.

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The same holds true for widgets. Tap the Widgets tab, hold your finger on the widget you want to add, and drag and drop it where you want it to be.

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You can’t customize the App Menu (also called the App Drawer) the same way that you can the Home screen. If you hold your finger on it, nothing happens.


Folders hold information and files, the same way they do on computers. You’ve already got lots of folders on your Galaxy S4, like your folder full of contacts, and bookmarks from your browsers. When you install apps, they may create their own folders as well—the Pandora Internet radio app, for example, creates a folder of your radio stations. You type in a name before placing the folder.


This adds a new pane. So why is it called a page rather than a pane? That’s anybody’s guess.

OK, time to go crazy. You can now trick out your Home screen or pane in countless ways.


Some widgets can be resized or customized after you add them to your Home screen or pane. Press and hold your finger on a widget and then release it. An outline appears around the widget, with four circles, which are sizing indicators. Move those to resize the widget.

Deleting and Moving

Once you’ve added widgets, folders, and shortcuts to your Home screen, you’re not stuck with them, or with where you’ve placed them:

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  • To move a widget, folder, or shortcut, hold your finger on it for a second or two. The pane or Home screen gets outlined, and a small highlight box appears around the widget, folder, or shortcut. Drag it to its new location and take your finger off. That’s where it’ll stay. You can even drag it to another pane—just move toward that edge of the screen.

  • To delete a widget, folder, or shortcut, also hold your finger on it for a second or two until the highlight box appears. You’ll notice a Delete icon in the shape of a Trash can at the top of the screen. Drag the doomed item to the Trash can. When you see it turn red, release it—it’s gone.

Deleting and Adding Panes

LET’S SAY YOU’VE GOT a pane tricked out with widgets, shortcuts, and folders. You decide that you’d like it all to go—every widget, every shortcut, every folder. Rather than deleting them one by one, you want to delete them in one fell swoop. Just delete the entire pane. So for example, if you had the Home screen and six panes, you’d end up with the Home screen and just five panes. Fear not—you can also add a new pane back.

To delete a pane, when you’re on the Home screen or a pane, tap the Menu key and select “Edit page.” Thumbnails of the Home screen and all the panes appear, including even smaller thumbnails of the widgets, shortcuts, and folders on each. At the top of the screen, you see a trash icon.

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Drag the pane whose content you want to delete onto the trash can. Release your finger when the can turns red. When asked if you’re sure want to delete it, answer yes, and the pane, including all its content, is gone. The thumbnails appear again, but this time there’s a big + sign instead of the former pane. Tap it to add a new blank pane. You’ll see it as a new thumbnail. Tap that thumbnail and you’ll be sent to the new pane. It’s blank, awaiting your Picasso-like touches.

Controlling the Galaxy S4 with Your Fingers

WITH THE GALAXY S4, your fingers do the walking. They do all the work that you do on a computer with a mouse or keyboard. Here are the eight finger strokes you can use on the phone’s screen.


Tapping is as basic to the S4 as clicking is to a mouse. This simple gesture is how you press onscreen buttons, place the cursor for text entry, and choose from menus. Note that’s a finger tap; the screen is designed to detect a fleshy fingertip, not a stylus.

Touch and Hold

Touch an object and hold it for several seconds, and depending on what you’re holding, an option menu may appear. For example, when you touch and hold the Home screen, a menu appears that lets you add an object such as a widget, change your wallpaper, and so on. You also touch and hold an object as a way to grab onto it if you then want to drag the object somewhere.


After you’ve grabbed something, you can drag it with your finger—like dragging an icon to the Trash.


Slide your finger across the screen to perform some specific tasks, like unlocking your phone after it’s been put into Standby mode, or answering a call if the phone is locked. You’ll also use the sliding motion to move through all five panes.


Think of the flick as a faster slide, done vertically when scrolling through a list, like your contacts list. The faster you make the flicking motion, the faster your screen scrolls—sometimes too fast. You can stop the motion, though, by touching the screen again.


Flicks seem to actually obey the laws of physics, or at least as much as virtual movement can. When you flick a list, it starts off scrolling very quickly, and then gradually slows down, as if it were a ball set in motion that gradually loses momentum.

To scroll through large lists quickly, you can flick multiple times.

Pinch and Spread

In many apps, such as Google Maps, Mail, Browser, and the Gallery, you can zoom in by spreading your fingers—placing your thumb and forefinger on the screen and spreading them apart. The amount you spread your fingers will determine the amount you zoom in.

To zoom out, put your thumb and forefinger on the screen and pinch them together. The more you pinch, the more you zoom out.


When you’re viewing a map, a picture, or a web page, you can zoom in by double-tapping. In some instances, once you’ve reached the limit of zooming in, double-tapping again restores the zoom to its original size.

The Magic of Air Gesture, Smart Scroll, Smart Screen, and Air View

LOOK MOM, NO HANDS! No longer is that only the cry of a child showing off riding a bicycle without touching the handlebars. You can do the same thing with your S4. Amazingly enough, you can control it by just moving your hands without touching the screen, or more remarkably, simply moving your eyes.

Here’s how to make each of them do their magic.

Smart Scroll and Smart Screen

These are probably the most mind-boggling new features added to the S4. All you need to do is move your eyes to control the screen. And it’s so easy, that you don’t really need to do anything except what comes naturally, because they follow the way you normally move your eyes when you read.

Smart Screen is made up of four related technologies, one of which is Smart Screen:

  • Smart Scroll. When this is turned on, the S4 uses its camera and software magic to let you scroll through screens and web pages by merely tilting your head. Tilt your head down to scroll down, and up to scroll up. You’ll know Smart Scroll is turned on when you see an eye icon in the status bar. If you prefer, you can instead tilt the S4 forward or back to scroll. But what fun is that?


    Smart Scroll doesn’t respond instantaneously. It may take a few seconds for it to notice that you’ve tilted your head.

    Smart Stay. This fixes one of the most common annoyances with a smartphone. You’re doing something on the phone, but you haven’t touched the screen for a while, so the screen turns off. Smart Stay fixes that. As long as you’re looking at the phone, it stays on. (Smart Stay is the only feature that’s not brand-new with the S4. It’s been around since the S3, but it works better now.)

  • Smart Pause. Here’s another very cool feature. While you’re watching a video, if you look away from the screen, the S4 pauses the video. Look back and the video starts playing again.

  • Smart Rotation. This feature adjusts the screen to the angle at which you’re looking at it.


Some people have had problems getting some or all of these features working. Samsung is working on a fix.

You can turn these features on and off. To do it, from the Home screen or pane tap the Menu key and select Settings→My device→Smart screen.

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Air Gesture

Here’s another way to control the S4 without touching the screen. You just make gestures above it, like a magician on stage. Air gestures don’t work everywhere on the S4, since apps have to be built to recognize them. So you may need to do some experimentation before you find the ones that do. At this writing, that includes email and the browser.

To use air gestures, you make specific hand movements across a sensor that’s built into the upper-right of the screen. Here’s what you can do:

  • Air browse. Move a hand to the right or the left across the sensor, and you can browse through things like photos, web pages, and songs.

  • Air jump. Scroll through the body of your emails and web pages by moving your hand up and down above the sensor.

  • Quick glance. If your S4 is on a flat surface, facing up, with its screen turned off move your hand to above the sensor and you’ll be able to see various pieces of status information, like missed calls, unread messages, your battery power, and others.

  • Air move. Move icons to other panes and screens by holding down the icon with the finger of one hand, then moving your other hand to the right or left across the sensor.

  • Air call-accept. To take an incoming call, move your hand across the sensor. This also puts the call on speakerphone. (You can disable the automatic speakerphone, as you’ll see next.)

You can turn Air gesture on and off and customize how it works. On any pane, tap the Menu key and select Settings→My device→“Motion and gestures.” Slide the “Air gesture” button to turn the feature on or Off. When it’s turned on, tap the “Air gesture” setting itself, not the button, and you’ll come to a menu that lets you customize how it works. You can turn individual gestures on and off and customize them individually, like setting which notifications you want to receive using Quick glance and turning off the speakerphone in Air call-accept.

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Air View

This feature, which originated on the Samsung Galaxy Note II, lets you hover your finger over the S4 to get information from it. For example, hovering over a web page magnifies it, hovering over a picture in the Gallery opens it, hovering over a Calendar event reveals more details about it, hovering over a truncated text message reveals the full message, and so on.

To turn on Air view, see the full list of what you can do, and customize it, go to the Home screen or pane, tap the Menu key and select Settings→My device→“Air view.” Slide the “Air view” button to On to turn it on, and Off to turn it off. Tap the words “Air view” when it’s turned on to select which actions you want to be able to take by hovering your finger and then customize them.

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Using Multi Window

Multi Window is an S4 feature you could easily miss—but don’t. It lets you do more than one thing on the phone at the same time. For example, watch a video while your also checking your email. What could be handier?

Right out of the box, Multi Window is turned on. To use it, when you’re doing something, like browsing the Gallery or viewing a photo, press and hold the Back key. A menu appears down the right-hand side of the screen, with icons for a variety of apps: web browser, email, text messaging, and so on.

Drag the icon of the app you want to use (in addition to the one you’re currently using) to a portion of the screen, and then drop it there. The second app opens, so you have two apps open on your screen simultaneously.

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Drag the separator between the two windows to change the relative size of each app on screen. Hold down the separator and then release your finger, and you’ll display a set of Multi Window controls. They let you switch the relative position of the windows, make one of the windows full-screen, or close down either of them.

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Multi Window has a menu that you can pull up even when you’re not using Multi Window. Press and hold the Back key, and you see a small semi-circle on the left side of the screen. Tap it to bring up the menu: tap it again to make the menu recede. If you’d like to stop the semi-circle from appearing, hold down the back key. That won’t turn off Multi Window; it just makes the semi-circle stop appearing. To bring it back and display the menu, hold down the back key once more.

To turn Multi Window off, pull down the status bar and swipe through the widgets at the top of the screen, and then tap the one for Multi Window.

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