The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is almost two years old but it’s still an excellent phone with plenty of useful features. In this guide we’ll go over a bunch of helpful tips and tricks you might not know about, or that your last phone probably didn’t have. Like transferring data from an old phone or creating GIFs with the stylus and running two apps at once.
You won’t need to read the boring manual or take hours looking through the settings menu. Instead, our guide will help you learn how to use the phone and tell you about all the cool features you paid for.
This is a big phone with a beautiful screen and tons of features that take full advantage of it. With our help, you’ll master the Galaxy Note 8 in no time. We’ll start with quickly changing some settings to improve your overall experience. Then, detail a bunch of helpful Note 8 tips, tricks, and hidden features. Plus, it’s better than ever after the Galaxy Android Pie update.
Transfer Your Old Phone to the Note 8
For starters, let’s transfer your old phone to the Galaxy Note 8 if you didn’t already. No one wants to lose all their settings, texts, call log and pictures. Here’s how to keep everything. If your carrier store did this for you, move to our next tip.
Samsung has a feature called SmartSwitch, and this will automatically transfer your old phone, Galaxy, iPhone and more to the Galaxy Note 8. It does literally everything for you. Just find SmartSwitch in settings, use the adapter that comes in the Note 8 box, and connect it to your old phone. You can do this entire process over WiFi too if you don’t have a cable or the adapter handy. Just follow the on-screen instructions when you open the app on each phone.
Find the little dongle (pictured above) that plugs into the Type-C charging port, and hook it up to both the new and old phone. Open SmartSwitch on each phone to start the transfer, or use a PC if needed to backup data, then restore it to your Note 8.
When your first setup the phone (or if you want to redo it) this is how you should proceed. Full instructions for setting up a Galaxy, and using Smart Switch is right here. It’s from the Galaxy S7, but the same steps apply to the Note 8.
This will transfer most of your settings, apps, wallpapers, texts and more. Once that’s all done, here are the other tricks you’ll enjoy.
Enable Full Screen App Mode
The Note 8 has a nice 6.3-inch Quad-HD Infinity Display. It’s so big and tall that some apps don’t use the entire screen. If you see black bars on the top and bottom of certain apps, enable fullscreen app mode for a better experience.
- Pull down the notification bar and head into Settings (gear-shaped icon near the top right)
- Find and select Display
- Select the option labeled Full Screen Apps
- Find any app that isn’t highlighted and switch full screen mode to on
Our image above is a quick glance at exactly what you’ll be looking for. This will force apps into full screen mode on the Galaxy Note 8. Again, most apps work just fine out of the box. The ones that aren’t highlighted work as soon as you manually force it with our instructions above. Like Snapchat and some games. Now you’re enjoying apps and games on the entire screen you paid for.
Increase the Screen Resolution
The Galaxy Note 8 screen is capable of a 2k resolution, higher than most HDTVs. However, Samsung ships it running at 1080p, known as FHD. This may help with battery life, but it also means you aren’t getting the full resolution that the screen can offer.
Here’s how to upgrade your screen instantly in settings. Go to Settings using the steps mentioned above and look for screen resolution. Slide it over to WQHD+ 2,560 x 1,440 and hit apply.
Customize the Always-On Display
One of our favorite features is the Always-On display. Giving Note 8 owners quick information like the time, date, battery levels and even incoming notifications. This uses hardly any battery life, too, which is nice. Even better, it’s highly customizable.
When the screen is “off” it’s still technically on. A small area gives you at-a-glance information. We can change the entire look and feel of the always-on display, add a calendar, or even a background image.
Go to settings and search for always on display. Tap the On toggle to turn it on if it isn’t already. Or tap the option to enter the customization section as shown above. Samsung occasionally updates this with more features too, so check back occasionally to see what’s new. If you don’t like it, you can turn off the Always-on Display.
Use the Galaxy Note 8 Fingerprint Scanner
The fingerprint scanner is helpful when it comes to keeping your phone safe and secure. However, it does a lot more than that. Instantly sign into websites, accounts, banking apps, or even use Samsung Pay. All of this works without passwords once you set up the fingerprint scanner.
Head to the settings menu and find Lockscreen & Security, or search for it using the search bar at the top. In here, scroll down the Fingerprints to get started as shown above. Now, follow the on-screen prompts and add a fingerprint or two. Apps like Bank of America will give you an option to use fingers instead of a password.
Use Smart Lock & Skip Fingerprints
Yes, we just mentioned how great the fingerprint scanner is. However, it’s also in a pretty poor location and is hard to reach for some. If so, use an awesome feature called Smart Lock and skip the fingerprints as often as possible. This uses trusted locations and connected devices to skip unlocking the phone when it knows it’s in a safe place.
Go to the same Lockscreen & Security section in settings mentioned in our last tip. Now, find Smart Lock and enable it.
You’ll see four different modes to choose from, pick whichever works best for you. I’m using Trusted devices and Bluetooth, so when I connect the Note 8 to my car stereo or it’s near a smartwatch I don’t need to unlock it. The software recognizes I’m near a trusted device and bypasses the lock screen method temporarily. Smart Lock works with any NFC or Bluetooth device.
- Click Trusted devices
- Tap + Add trusted device
- Select from Bluetooth or NFC (it will search and find any nearby connected device)
- Choose which accessory and then select Add as trusted device
Once you leave your house or are no longer connected to the car stereo, you’ll need a password or fingerprint again to unlock the Galaxy Note 8. You’ll love this feature once it is all set up.
Use Fingerprint Gestures on the Galaxy Note 8
We have one more tip that relates to the fingerprint scanner. Samsung added a few gestures so you can swipe the scanner to perform a few tasks on the phone. Here’s a video guide on the Galaxy S8. The steps are exactly the same on the Note 8.
You need to turn on Fingerprint gestures before you can use this option. Go to Settings and then search Finger sensor gestures. Slide the toggle to on and if you want, turn on Samsung pay as well. There’s more to it in this guide and the video above.
Use the Galaxy Note 8 Secure Folder
Samsung offers something called the Secure Folder, and it’s really impressive. This is essentially enterprise-grade security for anything and everything on your phone. Install a second Gmail or Facebook for work, and lock it safely in the secure folder. Take pictures and hide them here, or put important documents behind a lock and key.
Samsung calls this a Secure Folder and it’s built into your Galaxy Note 8. You need to use your fingerprint, Iris or password to access this folder.
Go to Settings and search for Secure Folder. If you haven’t already you may need to sign into your Samsung account. Choose an unlock method and then start enjoying a more secure Galaxy Note 8.
Setup Find My Mobile (Lost Galaxy Note 8)
There are two easy ways to find a lost or stolen Galaxy Note 8. One is Google’s Find My Device, and the other is just like Find My iPhone, only its made by Samsung. Set this up BEFORE a phone gets lost.
If you lose your Galaxy Note 8 or it is stolen, you can use this service to track it down, make it play a loud noise if it’s lost at home, or erase everything in cases of theft.
Go to Settings and search for Find My Mobile. Log in to your Samsung account, or create an account, and then turn it on. Our screenshot above is Google’s service, but they both work the same. Make sure you allow any prompts to use your phone’s location and use Google Location service so you can easily track a lost phone.
Turn on the Galaxy Note 8 Game Launcher
Samsung includes a handy feature that lets you keep all of your games in one location and allows you to play without interruptions by blocking notifications. You can also choose to mute the game sound or put the phone in a high-performance mode for better graphics at the expense of battery life. Furthermore, there’s a built-in screen recording mode.
Go to Settings and search for Game Launcher. Toggle it on and then you will see a new folder on your home screen. This should have your games in it and plenty of neat options and controls.
Master Samsung’s Bixby Virtual Assistant
Galaxy Note 8 includes a voice assistant known as Bixby. Similar to Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant, only different. Samsung claims Bixby learns from us as we use it, and developers can use and take advantage of Bixby too. As a result, we could see some neat Bixby features later down the road.
Here are 175 Bixby Voice commands that you can use to control your Galaxy Note 8 with just your voice. It does a lot more than the Google Assistant if you ask right, so try it today.
Clean Up the App Tray
One frustrating aspect of the Galaxy Note 8 is apps being out of order in the app tray. Especially once you download a bunch from Google Play. Each downloaded app goes to the end of the list, in no specific order. Thankfully there’s a way to quickly re-sort them all in alphabetical order. Basically cleaning up the application tray.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then tap the 3-dot settings button at the top and select “A-Z” and then tap save. Now all of your apps get displayed alphabetically and are easier to find. The next time you install an app though, you’ll have to do this again, as it reverts back to the list format.
Another feature we love that millions don’t use is Do-Not-Disturb. It works great on the Note 8 and will keep you free from distractions at night or while working. Keep the phone on when you need it, and have it automatically go silent or on vibrate at work, or at night.
To use this navigate to Settings > Sounds > Do Not Disturb or just search for Do Not Disturb. Turn it on or set a schedule so everything happens automatically. Don’t forget the “allow exceptions” at the bottom so select contacts or apps can still get through at all times. Perfect for friends, family members or your boss. Samsung offers an option where repeat callers will still get through, in case of emergencies.
Keep in mind that this won’t even let alarms get through if you don’t set it up and allow a few exceptions. Once it’s done right though, it’s a lifesaver.
Use the Blue Light Filter
Do-Not-Disturb is great at night, and the Blue Light Filter is too. It’s like night mode. This turns off certain blue colors on the screen to prevent eye strain and help you fall asleep faster. Studies have shown the blue light from displays, especially Samsung’s can keep users awake and cause eye strain. Samsung even has a sunrise and sunset toggle so it’s on only at night.
Head to Settings > Display > Select Blue Light Filter and use the schedule option if you’d like. Now the screen will be much warmer with less blue light, and easier on your eyes.
Turn Off the Note 8 Notification LED
Just like the Always-On display, the blinking notification LED light is very distracting at times. Here’s a quick guide for turning it off.
Head to Settings > Display > LED Indicator and turn it off. However, this also means you won’t see a notification LED when the phone is charging. Our link above explains how to turn it off for certain notifications, but keep it on for the ones you need.
Customize the Note 8 with Themes
Those who want to customize the look and feel of the Galaxy Note 8 will want to check out the Theme Store. It comes on every recent Samsung phone, and it’s extremely powerful.
Go to Settings and navigate to or search for Wallpapers and Themes. Download the Theme app if it isn’t there already, then browse through hundreds of themes and wallpapers. Many of them are free, but there are others that you will need to pay for if you want them. Download any theme then hit apply. Material Blue gives the Note 8 a stock Android look, which is my favorite.
Quick Launch the Camera
Never miss the perfect photo opportunity by instantly and quickly launching the Galaxy Note 8 camera. Instead of finding the app, just double tap the power button — even with the screen off. You’ll see a prompt when you do it the first time, but if you didn’t turn it on, you can do it now.
Go to Settings and search for Quick Launch Camera. Turn on the slider to enable this feature. Now you can quickly double press the power button to open the camera. It fires up in less than one second.
Dual Capture (Two Photos at Once)
There are plenty of neat things you can do with the dual cameras on the Galaxy Note 8. Zoom in close on subjects, take portrait photos and more. However, we like the new Dual Capture feature. Basically, this lets you take two photos at the same time.
Launch the camera, swipe from the left edge, and select Dual Capture mode. This new mode allows you to capture both a regular and a zoomed in photo at the exact same time. One click, two photos. Yes, it’s sort of a novelty feature, but I’ve had countless moments where I take a photo and crop it later. This way, you’ll probably already have the perfect shot.
More Galaxy Note 8 Camera Tips
Now that you know how to quickly launch the camera and can take two photos at the same time, here are a few more tricks and things to know. Start with our how to use the Galaxy camera like a pro guide. This covers;
- Camera Modes and Options
- Advanced options, voice controls, & video stabilization
- Timer options & selfie gestures
- Motion Photos
- How to save photos to your SD card
- Using the camera/photo editor and more
Spending just a few minutes to get familiar with the camera will make your photos turn out better, look great, and get more likes on social media. Try your luck with these best photo editing apps too.
Then, don’t forget to try the new 2x optical zoom feature right on the middle right side of the camera view. This uses the second camera lens to get extremely close photos. Samsung also improved the selective focus feature where you can change the point of focus before and after you take a photo. Just swipe from the side, choose selective focus, and enjoy all the options.
Change the Keyboard
One of the most popular 3rd party apps for Android is keyboards. From SwiftKey, Google’s GBoard, Swype and more. Allowing users to type faster, add customization, and have more control. Samsung’s keyboard is decent, but here’s how to change it.
Head to the Google Play Store, search for your keyboard of choice (Gboard) and install it. Once it’s done open it up, follow the prompts, and it will set the Note 8 to use it by default. Other apps do the same thing so we don’t have to fumble around in the settings menu. Now, enjoy a better keyboard experience.
Change & Download New Font on Galaxy Note 8
Another thing we can change and customize is the font. Samsung includes a few different font options themselves, but you can download more if you’d like.
The video above is a quick walkthrough on how to change the font on the Galaxy S8. These same steps apply to the Galaxy Note 8.
If you don’t have time for the video, just go to Settings > Display > Screen zoom and font and tap on Font Style. Now you can choose the one you want or tap the + to download more fonts. Give it a try today.
Try Easy Mode
A lot of people choose the Note line for the big screen. If you’re one of them and the software is too confusing, or you just want to see things easier, try Easy Mode. This simplifies the software and increases the size of everything for those with poor vision.
Just head to Settings > Display > Easy Mode and turn it on. You’ll notice everything changes and gets bigger, even the icons are large. Everything that’s important is easy to find and use, including big icons for your favorite contacts. This is perfect for parents, or grandparents. It basically simplifies everything for those wanting an easier experience.
Use the Note 8 One-Handed
This phone has a huge 6.3-inch display and the device is long and skinny. As a result, it’s hard to use with one hand for some owners. If you’re struggling, try One-Handed mode. This puts everything in fingers reach, minimizes windows, and is probably just what you were hoping to find. Even the keyboard is off to one side.
Start by going to Settings > Advanced Features > and turn on One-Handed Mode. From here there are two options to turn it on or off: Swipe up diagonally from the corner to shrink the screen contents or tap the home button 3 times to quickly reduce the screen size. Notice the smaller easy to use phone dialer in our screenshot above. Try it today.
Disable Bloatware & Clean Up Your Note 8
Every carrier likes to add extra apps and bloatware that most owners never use. These waste space and take up room in the application tray. Sadly we can’t uninstall these, but we can disable and “hide” them from the system. That way the application tray is clean and only shows what you want and need, not all those AT&T, Amazon or Verizon apps you’ll never use.
Head to Settings > Applications > Click on the app > hit Disable. Confirm you want to disable it, and it will be gone forever until you re-enable it in this same menu. Be careful not to disable any system apps or important things. I typically remove all the carrier and Amazon apps, NASCAR stuff from Sprint, etc. This makes your app tray cleaner and easier to use too.
Move Apps to the MicroSD Card
Once you disable all the bloatware another step worth taking is moving apps to a microSD card. This way you keep the 64GB of storage that’s built-in for games, photos or recording video. Here’s a detailed guide for transferring content to the microSD card on the Note 8.
Head to Settings > Applications > and hit the drop-down icon near the top left and select All Apps. Now, search for any app you downloaded and click it. Then follow the steps in the guide or our screenshot above to transfer it to your microSD card. You can’t transfer pre-installed apps, keep that in mind.
Open and Use Two Apps at the Same Time (App Pair)
Being able to use two apps simultaneously is nothing new to Samsung smartphones. However, the Note 8 has a new feature called App Pair, where you can instantly open two apps together at the same time. Pair apps together, and tap once to instantly multitask like a pro.
Open the Edge Apps panel (if you didn’t disable it) and look for App Pair. Now just pair apps you like together and use them as you see fit.
Use the Note 8 as a Mobile Hotspot (WiFi)
The Galaxy Note 8 hotspot feature allows you to share your internet connection with a laptop or tablet. Basically, other devices connect to the Note 8 just like you sign into Starbucks or Airport Wifi. Most smartphone plans support this and if you have an unlimited plan you’ll never run out of data.
Do this completely wireless, or use a USB cable for what’s called USB Tethering. Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile Hotspot and Tethering > Mobile Hotspot. Here you can name the hotspot and create a password for it. Once you’re done, test it on a computer or tablet before you go mobile and need it. Here’s more on how this works and how to set up a USB connection and quickly turn the hotspot on and off.
If you notice my settings menu is different in these screenshots, it’s because I’m using the Material Blue theme from the theme store we mentioned earlier. Giving my Note 8 a stock Android look and feel.
Stream Audio to 2 Devices with Bluetooth 5.0
A new feature most don’t know about is something called Dual Audio. Thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 on the Note 8 we can send two different audio outputs to two different devices. Or the same sound to two different Bluetooth speakers. Additionally, BT5.0 reaches 8x further, connects 4x faster, and is just better overall.
Head to Settings > WiFi & Bluetooth > Turn on Bluetooth and tap the three dots near the top right of the screen. Choose Dual audio and turn it on. Now when music is playing there is a control center in the notification bar to completely control audio unlike ever before.
Take A Screenshot
Capturing whatever is on the Note 8 display is very easy by taking a screenshot. People do this to share things on social sites or save information. Simply press the power and home button down at the same time, hold until you see or hear the screenshot capture, and let go. It’s that simple.
You can capture an entire text message conversation, web page or email using the scrolling screenshot feature too. Follow our guide above to learn how.
Create a GIF with the Galaxy Note 8 S-Pen
Screenshots are nice, but creating a GIF is even better. Using the S-Pen you can capture part of any video playing on the Note 8, edit that clip, and save or share it as a GIF. Or is it JIF?
Start a video using the Samsung Video player and click the icon circled in red above. That, or pull out the S-Pen and tap on “Smart Select”. Use the S-Pen and drag a square the size of the area you want to record, and follow the on-screen prompts. Now record, crop, edit and share a GIF with friends and family.
Send Live Messages (Animated)
A highlight new feature on the Galaxy Note 8 is something called Live Messages. While there are a lot of neat things the Galaxy Note 8 can do, this is one of our favorites.
Pull out the S-Pen and tap the Live Messages option. As you write the letters sparkle and glisten on the screen. Then, you can send that message as an animated GIF that essentially plays the message on the other end for whoever receives it. Perfect for saying Happy Birthday or things of that nature.
Speed Up the Galaxy Note 8 (Faster Performance)
This next one is an old Android trick, but one that works amazingly well on the Galaxy Note 8. We can quickly change three little settings in a hidden developer menu and improve performance.
Our video guide above is on the Galaxy S8, but the exact same steps apply to the Galaxy Note 8. Enable the hidden developer menu, find the three settings shown above, and turn them to 0.5x and enjoy the benefits. You’ll notice the phone is faster and more responsive. You’re welcome.
Close Apps on the Galaxy Note 8
While this isn’t a big trick, it’s a helpful feature that many don’t know about. Close apps on the Galaxy Note 8 when they’re no longer needed. Our video below shows you how on the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8.
We explain why you want to do this in our video above. Basically, big apps drain battery life. When you’re done using an app hit the recent apps button and swipe it away to close it. That, or close all at night or when headed to work to increase battery life.
Get Better Galaxy Note 8 Battery Life
The Galaxy Note 8 gets good battery life but it can always be better. Not to mention sometimes apps can kill the battery in just a few hours. You can use this guide to fix bad Galaxy Note 8 battery life so that your phone lasts longer without the need for a battery case.
- Apps using your battery life
- Screen Brightness and Sleep Time
- Why You Need to Reboot your Galaxy Note 8
- Turning Off Features you don’t need
- Other helpful tips & tricks
In less than 10 minutes you can fix most Galaxy Note 8 battery life issues on your own, without a trip to a carrier or a call to Samsung.
Battery life is just one of many problems users may face. If so, check out our list of 16 common problems above and how to fix them.
Customize Quick Settings
Another useful software tweak from Samsung is Quick Settings. Pull down the notification bar and there are a bunch of quick and easy to access settings at the top. Pull down again to expand it with even more options, screen brightness slider and more. Additionally, this is all customizable so it fits your needs exactly.
So, swipe down twice and you’ll see the entire quick settings menu. Now, long-press and hold down any icon, then drag it where you’d like. I keep a list as my first five which are WiFi, Bluetooth, Vibrate (or Silent mode) the Flashlight, and now the Blue Light filter or Airplane mode. Drag and drop what you need at the beginning for easy access.
Home Screen Grid (Icon Count)
Samsung’s Note devices have big screens, and that means there is extra room for more apps on your home screen. Older Note phones had 5 apps across, but the Note 8 went back to 4 app icons. The home screen icon grid layout is customizable, so you have more apps on your screen at once.
Press and hold anywhere on the screen that doesn’t have an app icon. The display will zoom out into an edit mode where you can also add a wallpaper or try themes. Click on home screen settings, then choose either “home screen grid” or “Apps screen grid” to change how many apps are in each row. This works for the home screen and your application tray.
Try Samsung Pay
You bought a Samsung Galaxy, and that means you have access to the easiest and best mobile payment system on the market. Samsung Pay is incredibly easy, and very useful.
Similar to Apple Pay or Android Pay, we can make payments at stores throughout the United States, and select other regions with the Note 8. Samsung Pay works anywhere Apple Pay is accepted using NFC, and nearly 98% of all stores in the US because it’s backward compatible with magnetic swipe-based credit card terminals. So leave your wallet at home, and pay for anything just by tapping your phone to the terminal.
Open Samsung Pay (or download it from Google Play) and add a credit card by using your camera, then secure it with a fingerprint. Get everything set up right, enjoy some free money from Samsung for registering, and start earning reward points along with enjoying the convenience. More info on Samsung Pay is right here.
Print from the Galaxy Note 8
If you have a wireless printer, you can print stuff right from the Note 8. You’ll need a plug-in for it to work, but it’s very simple.
Open Settings > Connections> More Connection Settings > Printing > Download Plugin > Download Google Cloud Print > Follow on-screen instructions for setup and you’re done. Now print from your Note 8.
Reset a Frozen Galaxy Note 8
Now that we went over tons of helpful tips, these next two are for saving you when you run into trouble on the Galaxy Note 8. If your phone is frozen or unresponsive, here’s how to quickly reset it.
To reboot a frozen Galaxy Note 8 press and hold down both the power button and volume down for 7-10 seconds. The phone will shut down, reboot, and be back on in no time. This fixes almost any small problem you might face and is a great way to fix a frozen phone.
Factory Reset the Galaxy Note 8
Last but certainly not least is how to perform a factory data reset. This is great for fixing any major problems, starting fresh after a software update, or before you sell the phone. A factory reset will erase everything, so back up your Note 8 before you proceed.
Start by heading to Settings > Cloud & Accounts > Backup & Reset > Factory Data Reset. Select the last option to do a factory data reset and return the phone to the out-of-box state. This is the last resort if you’re experiencing problems or are trading it in for a different phone.
Other Details & What’s Next
In closing, our last advice is to stay tuned for updates to Android 9 Pie and Samsung’s One UI for the Note 8. While it delivered new features and probably made your phone feel fresh and new again, there are a few issues they’ll have to fix this summer. This will improve performance, fix bugs, and introduce more features that allow us to do more with our Galaxy device. Plus, we’re assuming at some point in early 2020 it’ll get the Android Q update, too.
We’re hoping you learned something new here today or mastered some of the best Galaxy Note 8 features so you can do more with your phone. Enjoy it for years to come, or get the upcoming Galaxy Note 10 later this year.