Samsung Galaxy S3 – Shortcuts & Tips

Some tips, shortcuts and stuff you won’t find in the manual, collected from different forum and personal experimentation. Please use only tips you understand – if you don’t know what a factory reset means, you do not want to find out :)


„Pinch“ means using 2 fingers to zoom in our out (Google it if you don’t know the word). The buttons are depicted here:
Samsung S3 buttons

Swype keyboard

The Samsung stock keyboard has a Swype-like feature. You can enable this via: “Settings” > “Language and Input” and then click the wheel next to “Samsung keyboard” and check “Continuous Input”.

Lock screen shortcuts

Customizable lock screen

Go to Settings > Security, enable “With swipe lock” and then click on “Lock screen options”. There you can enable different shortcuts for the lockscreen and modify them, display a clock, current weather and you can enable a nice shortcut for quick camera access [holding the device straight, tapping and holding the screen and then rotating the device].

Use S-Voice to unlock the phone: Choose “Wake up in Samsung Unlock” in the above menu.

Battery percentage display

Go to “Settings” -> “Display” -> “Display battery percentage” to show an additional percentage display next to the battery icon.

Application drawer by alphabet

App drawer grid view

In the application drawer you can choose an additional view setting: “Alphabetical grid”. Open the app drawer, click menu, then “View Type”.

Disable shutter sound [root only]

If you don’t like the camera shutter sound you can disable it by renaming the following file: /system/media/audio/ui/Shutter.ogg – therefore root access is required. I haven’t yet found out how to disable the shutter sound for burst shots.

Additional free apps from Samsung

There are some additional apps from samsung which can be installed for free: Start “Samsung Apps”, click on “Category” and then choose “More Services”. Apps I found useful:
“Flipboard”, which is a very nice looking news reader – including Google Reader, Twitter and Facebook integration.
“Photo Editor”, a good picture editing app.

Custom vibration patterns

Create your own vibration patterns

You can create your own vibration patterns here: “Settings” > “Sound” > “Device Vibration”. Then click “Create” and press the wheel to create patterns.

In Call EQ

A bit hidden: Open keypad, press menu, choose “Call settings”, “Additional settings” and scroll down. There you can select different equalizer settings for calls and create a personalized one.

User interface

Home screen

Android Apps

Miscellaneous hints

Force TW Launcher in memory [root only]

If done wrong your phone might be unusable.

Open /system/build.prop as root with a text editor. Add following line at the end:


Make sure the last line has one empty space, reboot.

xda-forum discussion

Factory reset (Everything will be deleted!)

Via these three ways:

  • Turn phone off, press and hold: volume Up + home + power. Use volume keys to navigate up/down, home to execute.
  • In the phone keypad: Enter *2767*3855#
  • Menu: Settings > Back up and reset > Factory data reset.

Codes (enter via phone keypad, the ones below work for me)

*#0**# LCD Screen test *#06# Show IMEI Number *#2222# HW Version *#1234# Phone info/Firmware version *#34971539# Camera Firmware settings *#9900# Sysdump (Logfiles etc.) *#0228# Battery diagnostics *#7353# Function testing *#9090# Service Mode *#197328640# Service Mode Menu *2767*3855# Factory Reset (not tested.. :) ?

German tips & tricks list

97 Replies to “Samsung Galaxy S3 – Shortcuts & Tips”

  1. Thanks for the tips. I think the phone takes great pictures, but I have a BIG problem with the function. The buttons (like zoom) and the back/menu buttons continually screw up my photo opportunity. All too often, either I or a stranger are trying to take a picture, but we inadvertently hit the cancel button or the volume button.

    QUESTION: Since I know I want to be in camera mode, is it possible to disable all softkeys (maybe even volume keys) when in camera mode?

    My solution to getting “out” of camera mode would be to hit and hold the home button. All other buttons would be inactive (unless you hit the home key…then they could become active…like a cancel command).

    Is there any hack that can do this? Hasn’t anyone else here been frustrated as hell with how easy it is to screw up a camera shot?

  2. is there a way to take pictures with the volume rocker button or another external button like the one in Iphones?

  3. Fantastic site with great tips for a great phone, Sprint S3.
    What I am looking for is a way to have the home screens stop when you get to the last one on the right or left. In other words not to go around in a circle.
    Thanks for all your hard work and insights.

  4. Great blog, thanks for all the tips! When looking at email, is there a way to change the color or tone of the email that have been opened versus the email that is unopened? On my S3 unopened mail is white while opened email is very light gray – almost white which makes it difficult for me to tell the two apart.

    1. I’m not exactly sure but if the pattern is tried too often the phone gets “locked”, so you have to unlock it using your google email and password. But the data is *not* wiped.

  5. Hi, Thanks for the help in advance: I would like to know whether the swipe lock feature, keeps the phone locked even when having an incoming call ? or does it automatically unlock after swiping when the phone is ringing for an incoming call ?

  6. Love this phone so far.
    Any idea on how to switch to the next song when listening to music while the phone is locked? It’s frustrating to have to keep unlocking the phone to switch tracks :(

  7. Quick question. My old xperia used to show the next alarm time on the locked screen – which was very useful. I can’t find how to do this on the S3 – any ideas? I see the time and date, but would reallyl ike to quickly see when the next alarm is set for.

  8. Hello, are there any keyboard shortcuts. On previous phones if I type certain phrases often you can assign short cuts. For example, ily = i love you
    Thank you

  9. Hi there, i.m looking for the way to set the CURRENT location (street name + number) to my contacts. for example, in my contacts is > name “qwerty” < i.m on the location with my car, and use Navigation or map for current location to set it as address for "qwerty"


    1. I’ve got no idea how to do that.. You can open maps, long click the current location, choose “send location .. email” and copy the resulting address from the created email – but that’s not really comfortable :)

  10. Hi,

    Would you be able to answer the following please.

    Can I change the background colour of the stock email app to white and the writing black?

    Like IPhone, is it possible to just put the security pin on lock screen and not press the ‘ok’ button to unlock the phone?

    Again like IPhone is it possible to start camera without unlocking the phone? I have the camera icon on the lock screen but I need to input my password before activating it.

    In contacts, I have custom set it up to show only my contacts from a cetain folder in my gmail and my phone, but when I try to search for someone’s name it starts showing all my Facebook contacts, all contacts on gmail etc. Is there a way to restrict it to just the contacts list on the phone.

    Thanks in advance

    1. – You can’t change the background of the stock email app AFAIK, but there are lots of other email apps that offer this feature
      – About the lock: I use the pattern which is much faster IMHO and requires no additional click.
      – If you don’t use a pattern/code lock you can access the camera from the standby-screen.
      – About the contacts: You can enable/disable accounts for contacts in the settings. In the facebook app you can configure if contacts should be synced or not..

  11. I’ve just bought the Galaxy s3. I cannot find the way to see on the desktop (or home window) of the phone a specific contact from my address book. This thing was possible with the S2. I just selected ‘add to home’ and then ‘link’ where I found my contacts. This shortcut was very easy because it let me call people in one touch. Has this shortcut been eliminated in the S3?

  12. I have a galaxy s3 and it works great! However I have downloaded music onto the phone and now when the screen goes black the next track won’t play. The second I hit the button to light the screen back up the next track plays. This is annoying when I’m trying to go on a run with the phone on my arm band. Is there some setting I not knowing pushed. Thanks. -Jeff-

  13. I have the Galaxy S3 (Android 4.0.4), and can’t disable keypad sounds during a call — even if the keypad sounds are disabled the rest of the time!

    For example:
    Dial a phone number from the keypad = silent
    Press “0” (or any number, the star, or pound keys) during a call = LOUD

    Samsung said their “test device” didn’t do this, but it was on Android 4.0.3… so it wasn’t the same.

    Any help, anyone??

  14. Hi, thanks for the excellent list of shortcuts. How can I save some contacts for speed dial. I have already tried marking them as favourites and I need something better.

  15. hi could you help, how d i delete individual shortcuts from my home screen? I downloaded an app and it placed two unrelated shortcuts on my phone there not in the app list! Thank you

  16. Is it possible to set the volume hardkey to be a mute while on lock screen? I would like to mute without touching the screen.

    1. I don’t think that’s possible without hacking the phone. You can turn the phone around while it’s ringing (can be enabled in the phone settings).

  17. Your site has been really useful! But the music app appears to have some kind of voice-recognition feature that drives me crazy. It is useful when I’m right next to the phone but sometimes it picks up sounds or even lyrics within the songs that sound vaguely like the commands its programmed with & takes actions such as pausing the music or skipping the track its on. Didn’t go down to well when it kept doing this during a HSC music exam…… Your help would be much appreciated!

    1. Which music app exactly? The built-in does not do this. Maybe you activated voice commands – these can be disabled in the phone settings.

  18. I have not seen this anywhere else so you can have it since you have such a nice list;

    Controlling the camera sound;

    Download AutomateIt ( )
    Then create an action that silences the sound on camera activation and one that sets sound normal on camera close.

    The csv file looks like this;
    “Rule description”,”Trigger”,”Action”,”Enabled”,”Delayed Execution”
    “[Application Status Trigger -> Set Sound Mode Action]”,”[Application Status Trigger]: Application Activated (Camera)”,”[Set Sound Mode Action]: Set device’ sound mode to Silent (No vibrate)”,”true”,””
    “[Application Status Trigger -> Set Sound Mode Action]”,”[Application Status Trigger]: Application Deactivated (Camera)”,”[Set Sound Mode Action]: Set device’ sound mode to Normal (With vibrate)”,”true”,””

    AutomateIt is great for things like this. Controlling sound off at night , making sure wireless is turned on with some apps.

    It is a bit quirky in the interface as you have to make sure to save the suboptions which catches you out the first few times.

    1. I just purchased an S3 coming from a Blackberry. I set the wallpaper for my homescreen but the top half is cut off by the time and weather .
      How do I get rid of this ?

  19. This may have been addressed but didn’t see it: Shutter sound silenced by going into settings ONCE CAMERA IS OPENED and selecting off under shutter sound. Thanks for great info!

  20. Hi, just got my S3…enjoying all the tricks and your review is great! So switching from the Motorola Atrix 2 to the Galaxy S3 I have a question:

    Where is the mic on the keyboard for voice activated input? It’s always visible on the Atrix 2 but NOT on the Galaxy S3. I can pull down an option to change to voice input but why go through this hurdle when the mic should always be present. Thanks.

    Also, taking pictures: Atrix 2 had a shutter button but is there a way to snap picture on Galaxy S3 besides hitting the virtual round button on the screen?

    Thank You!

    1. I use SwiftKey 3 which has a mic button and can handle voice input. Regarding the default keyboard: There’s a setting but the button isn’t there – this is a bug. (I tried long clicking the settings wheel, which has some nice options like handwriting input and a list of previous clipboard entries)

      There’s no dedicated shutter button.

    2. Ok, figured it out! When keyboard is displayed, the gear symbol next to “123” is changeable. Simply press the gear symbol to select the MIC that will allow you to select voice input. Thanks!

  21. nice phone, except whenever I put it in its holster it presses against the power button on the side, is there anyway to disable thispower button. I drive a truck and it needs to live in its holster thingy. ta muchly, thankyou, pretty please…

  22. Is there a way of changing the SMS-vibration to the “classic” triple vibrate, instead of the now standardised “long vibration”, which I atleast consider a signal for incoming calls?

  23. How do i use Swype and not the Samsung Keyboard . Samsung Keyboard sucks on swype – after using both – the swype is so much better and now i cant use even after installing Swype beta version

      1. Checked- the link – however it does not show for S3 and shows for some other devices- and the steps that they have said – does not even show up on the S3 ! For eg – when i go to Language and Input – i get Keyboards and input methods – however in that samsung keyboard cannot be unticked – and if i go in settings of Samsung keyboard and turn off everything but just keep qwerty keypad- and keep swype keyboard on – and go back to messaging- swype doesn’t even work !!

        1. Swype isn’t available in the Play Store, so you have to make sure your phone knows it’s a safe app. Go to settings > security and scroll down to where it says “Device Administration.” Check the box next to “Unknown Sources.” Now the phone will let you install (and use!) non-market apps.

    1. Swype-like feature is called Continuous Input on S3:
      Settings>Language and Input, click settings icon (next to keyboard) and check “Continuous Input”.

      This worked for me, I was used to Swype feature on Galaxy Ace and not getting to grips with other keyboard. Hope this helps someone as question was asked ages ago and I only just got S3 and trying to solve my own problems.

  24. What about button assignment? My power button died, common problem with this phone, but I can’t figure out how to re-assign the buttons. I have been able to previous phones, help? Thanks!

  25. i want to know how to turn on or activate the remote control settings on the phone.. going into that part of the settings i cant seem to turn it on thanx in advance for your reply and your time.. have a good day

      1. under the find my phone heading in setting it has remote controls.. i have done the account registrations (i think) and i have the wireless network box checked.. but i still can not seem to turn these so called controls on.. so i can use the remote control features in the Samsung dive

        1. I think you mean: The samsung function to find/track your phone when it’s lost.
          Therefore you need: A samsung account (email + password) which you need to setup in the phone and to check if the function works, go to, login with these credentials and check if you can find your phone. Therefore GPS and WLAN should be enabled.

  26. hello, just got my phone today so complete newbie! the songs that dont have cover art have a really bad pic of me that the phone has plucked from somewhere! how do I change this? thankyou x

  27. I have a Sprint G3 and whenever I get incoming calls – it announces it – & says to accept I have to press 1 on the keypad. You seem to be the only one that answers any questions – so I thought I would ask you. I have checked all my obvious settings – but can’t figure it out. thanks!

      1. When an incoming call comes in – it rings – I swipe to answer and a voice comes on saying – incoming call from…. – press 1 to accept. I can’t just answer it and hold it up to my ear. Is that something with the caller ID with Sprint?

  28. another hint…

    If you want to activate just the flashCamera, for light function, on lockscreen, hold one finger on the screen ans shake down for activate the light, do the same for deactivate.


  29. Thanks for your tips ! !
    Do you know if there is any widget to have a phone keypad and some phone functions allways in the front page? I would like to have a keypad, green and red bottom allways visible as any ordinary phone.
    Thank you

  30. My question is about the contact photos when the contacts are merged with facebook. on the contacts, on caller id, etc…. Why is the picture quality so crappy? even the smaller icons are terrible. Is this a samsung thing?

    1. The next Android version (Jelly Bean) will fix this, I think it has to do with Android itself and the Facebook interface. Search on the play store for HD Contacts to improve this.

  31. Hiya peeps, wondering if anyone can help me here, I want to set up the music player so that i can play and pause it without unlocking my phone, much in the same way as the Iphone, is it possible?

    I drive quite a lot and i think it’s too dangerous to be unlocking my phone and messing around with it whilst driving just to pause my music.

    Thanks very much

    1. Hi –

      I had the same problem and can recommend using either Poweramp or Player Pro (both have a trial version at Google Play). Both feature lock screen controls (=Play/Fwd/Rewind-Buttons on the lock screen). If you often listen to podcasts, have a look at “Pocket Casts” – has also lock screen controls.

  32. Thanks dude for writing all of this and also thanks on behalf of all these assholes that don’t even bother to ask nicely nor thank you for answering their questions. Very good post.

    1. Thanks. Well no problem with questions: I just answer the ones that seem relevant to me, others are deleted. And most people are thankful, but as I found out it depends on the topic.

  33. notification bar on top of the screen has disappered and on circle with i in it appear. I want to get the notifications back can someone help

    1. If you use a custom launcher, this is probably a setting from the launcher. If not I’d restart the phone or search at for that issue.

  34. same issue with the default music player.. those tracks which doesnt have a cover art, how best to change the cover art (ie if I have found a cover art via Google etc)?


  35. Great tips! Thank you for sharing!
    Any idea on how to change the random pictures for the songs in the music player? It is a very minor issue; but if I had the option, I would definitely change some of the pics.
    Thanks again!

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