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User Friendly Tips and Tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S5

Updated on January 22, 2015


Now at the fifth incarnation of its very popular Galaxy line, The SamsungGalaxy S5 is one of the most powerful smart phones available.

Coupled with Android 4.4 (Now Android 5.0 in the UK!) you have a very capable computer in your pocket.

For all of the power you have, most of us are generic users who only occasionally put the phone through its paces (high performance games) but mostly use it for everyday functions.

Whether it's music or YouTube, pictures on the camera or screen caps of your text conversation, there are hidden tricks that make it all a second easier.

With the everyday use in mind here are a few fixes, workarounds and tricks to get some function, get rid of one or two annoying traits and generally get something more out of your phone!

Screenshot of PVSTAR+ playing minimised on my phone. You can see the icons in the top left corner
Screenshot of PVSTAR+ playing minimised on my phone. You can see the icons in the top left corner

Audio Tips

Background Youtube

PVSTAR+ is an app that allows you to play YouTube videos, songs and playlists minimised in the background. You can then use the phone for other things.

Download the app from the Playstore and use it exactly as you would YouTube, searching via the given options, including playlists.

I've got into the settings and tagged a few things:

  • Music mode stops video playing in the background even when you can't see it.
  • Background zone Reloading - helps the player keep playing when minimised
  • (Occasionally) Use the Surface layer - again, can help with playing in the background

Bear in mind that this app can use quite a lot of battery even in music mode and occasionally, prevents aspects of the phone working correctly.

I’ve had the back button stop working and apps not responding while PVstar+ is on. The fix is to quit the app and then restart it.

Smart Playlists

While in the android music player om the "now playing" window, a fun trick is to turn the phone to landscape when the screen rotate is on.

Smart playlist suggestions
Smart playlist suggestions

This will give you a smart playlist based on the currently playing song. It’s particularly good if you select music on how you’re feeling at the time.

One Ear - Stereo Sound

I often listen to my music while at work. The trouble is my earphones are near sound blocking so when I've got them in properly, I can’t hear anything. Not the phone, the fire alarm nor my boss.

If you're listening to a track where half the sound comes out the left channel and half out the right, one ear can sound very odd! Fortunately, the S5 has a mono setting where you can get stereo (both left and right ear channels) out of one earphone only.

Very simply:

  • Go to “Setting” (little blue and grey cogwheel icon)
  • Go to the “Personalisation” heading.
  • Press “Accessibility”
  • Press ”hearing" under “Categories”
  • Tick the “Mono audio” box and press the back key until you exit to the settings screen.

This also works when you earphones are broken and you only get one side!

Swipe the edge of your palm across the screen
Swipe the edge of your palm across the screen

Screen Capture

The screen capture procedure on all the Galaxy series has been irritating from the very first. It seems very simple, simultaneously press and hold the home and power buttons.

In practice, with covers over the buttons or cold hands, you end up pressing buttons incorrectly and getting everything but the screen capture.

Now there is another way! First you have to enable palm swipe.


  • Go to “Setting” (little blue and grey cogwheel icon)
  • Go to the “Motions” heading.
  • Press “Motions and Gestures”
  • Press ”Palm swipe to capture”
  • Change the slide in the top right hand corner to green (on) and press the back key until you exit to the settings screen.

You can now use palm swipe to screen capture. Put your hand “edge on” at one side of the screen (a karate chop motion) and swipe smoothly from one side to the other with as much of the edge of your palm and little finger in contact with the screen as possible.

When done correctly, you will get a vibration, briefly a white boarder round the screen and the screen capture icon in your notifications.

You can swipe either direction, left to right or right to left. On apps which force rotation to landscape, simply swipe along the horizontal. Always swipe across the screen, whichever way it’s orientated.


Slow Camera

While the S5 camera has a punch in terms of pixel count, I find it a little primitive and some of the settings have odd effects when turned on.

The new low-light mode is one of these settings. Billed as ‘Picture Stabilisation’ that can easily be mistaken for the anti-shake setting on a normal camera, it’s actually an overlay function.

It works by taking several shots and merging them together to improve the picture in low light conditions.

The problem with this is that it’s slow, even in good light as the camera is taking a number of pictures. It also has a tendency to smear the picture slightly if you’re moving at the time.

The good news is, it’s easy to turn off! Simply go to the settings under the cog wheel in the camera, look for “Picture Stabilisation” and turn it off!

Obviously, you could lose the benefits in low light conditions, but if you’ve got time to ‘hold it steady for a few seconds’ while it takes the photo, you’ve probably got the time to turn it on if you need it.


If, like me, you’ve come from earlier versions of the Galaxy series, in my case the S and SII, you’ll be used to the menu key on the left. That’s all changed. Now the ‘menu’ key is the previously used apps list.

You can however, still use this as the menu key. Just long press and the menu option will appear. It’s not very easy and relatively slow compared to the new three dot menu but for those who like it, it’s still there.

LED options
LED options

Front LED

In the age of electronic standby, the evil little red eye in the dark is commonplace, but your Galaxy S5 doesn’t have to be one of those items! There are a number of options for the LED on the front upper side of the S5, from notifications about missed messages to the red charging light but you can turn them off.

  • Go to “Setting” (little blue and grey cogwheel icon)
  • Go to the “Sound and Display” heading.
  • Press “Display”
  • Press ”LED indicator”
  • Change any of the notification lights on or off by ticking the boxes.

You can’t edit the colour of the LED for the set options but it’s better than nothing.


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