The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 has a ton of settings. Too many settings, I’d argue, and nothing sucks the joy out of a new gadget like having to wade through a sea of menus to figure out how to customise it to your liking.
So, we’ve done the hard work for you. I’ve been playing around with a new Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ for the past week—including visiting every settings screen I can find—and I’ve come up with a list of all the important options you need to know about.
Some of these settings are obvious, and some are incredibly buried, but all are worthy of your attention. Even then, there’s still plenty I haven’t touched on (mainly features that are fun or quirky, but are lower-priority than everything else). Were I setting up a brand-new Galaxy Note 10 or 10+, and I did, this what I’d focus on:
Getting your Galaxy Note 10 up and running
This part’s easy. Take your new Galaxy Note 10 out of the box; it should already have a charge. You can peel off the attached screen protector if you want—doing so won’t wreck your device—but I recommend keeping it on because why not? It keeps your screen safe from scratches and it’s already perfectly placed on your device.
You’ll start by tapping a big blue arrow to “Let’s Go,”
You can then set up your new Galaxy Note 10 using an older device—wirelessly if you’re moving from a Samsung smartphone, or via a cable and USB connector (included in the box) if you’re coming from another Android or an iPhone.
Assuming you’re still setting up from scratch, as I was, you’ll next be asked to log into a wireless network. I absolutely recommend not skipping this, because...why wouldn’t you want to enter your wifi credentials? That, and doing so will allow your device to immediately check for system updates, which is always a great practice.
You’ll then be asked to sign into your Google account. You can skip this until later if you want. I signed in, so my Galaxy Note 10 then asked if I wanted to set it up via a backup from another Android device (my Pixel 3) or start from scratch. (I picked the latter.)
You’ll then have to set up your device’s security—a critical component. You have a number of options to pick from:
Once you’re locked-down, your device will ask you to set up Google services like automatically backing up to Drive, whether you want to use location or wifi scanning, and whether you want to send your diagnostic and usage data to Google. (Again, I presume I got this option because I signed into my Google account earlier in the setup process.)
You’ll then be asked to sign into your Samsung account, if you want. I didn’t, because I was getting sick of typing in passwords at this point. Also, do I even have a Samsung account?
Finally, your Galaxy Note 10 is ready for you to use it. Crack your knuckles, let’s begin setting it up for real.
Update your apps and your operating system
The very first thing I like to do when I get a new Android smartphone is to fire up Google Play and check for updates for any of the preinstalled apps. Yes, your device should update them automatically anyway, but I’m impatient.
I then pull up the Settings app and visit Software Update, toward the bottom. While your device should have already downloaded and installed any critical updates when you signed into your wifi during the initial setup process, I like to be thorough.
Finally, and this is specific to Samsung, but I went and downloaded its brand-new DeX application (for Windows and Mac). It’s a great tool, in general, if you want to access your USB-connected Galaxy Note 10 from a desktop or laptop. And if you’re faster at clicking a mouse than tapping around a screen, DeX helps you set up your new phone even faster—a must-have.
Let’s play with the scary Settings app
Most, but not everything, you’ll want to tweak on your brand-new Galaxy Note 10 can be found in the Settings app. And the Settings app is full of menus within menus within menus. I’ve explored them all, and here’s what I recommend checking out when you’re first setting up your phone:
Set up a new DNS: Tap on “More connection settings” and tap on Private DNS, and then switch this from its default setting to “Private DNS provider hostname.” There, you’ll want to enter in the credentials for a better service—like Cloudflare or Google DNS—to get even better performance than a crappy ISP’s DNS when you’re connected a wifi network.
Turn on (and prioritise) wifi calling: If your cell signal is so-so in a location, but your wifi connection is awesome, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using wifi calling (assuming your carrier supports it). Turn the option on, and then tap it. Switch from “Cellular preferred” to “Wi-Fi preferred.”
Sounds and vibration
Change the annoying Samsung notification sound: The Galaxy Note 10, by default, uses the “Spaceline” sound for notifications. Its five-note pattern is a bit long for my tastes, especially when you’re getting blasted with notifications. Change this to something shorter (such as Red Dwarf), or whatever you want, by tapping on Notification sounds and picking whatever.
Enable Dolby Atmos: By default, Dolby Atmos is off on your device. While it’s not really going to give you movie theatre-like positional sound, enabling it does give you a bit of a boost (and make the sound feel as if it’s slightly more enveloping, rather than blasted directly at you). Try it out and see if you like it via Advanced sound settings > Sound quality and effects. I found it easiest to play a YouTube movie trailer in picture-in-picture mode, and then flip the setting on and off to see how I felt.
Adjust equaliser settings for your age: Your device’s Adapt Sound feature is quirky, in that it attempts to boost frequencies you might struggle to hear as you get older. You can find this option via Advanced sound settings > Sound quality and effects. Pop on some headphones or earbuds, tap it, and pick your age bracket (under 30, 30–60, or over 60). You can then tap the gear icon to get a preview of what your device’s adjustments will sound like.
If you want to create your own configuration based on a quick hearing test, tap “Add personalised sound profile.” You’ll spend a minute or so listening for test tones, which will help inform what kind of boost you might best benefit from.
Schedule Do Not Disturb: I hate being woken up by dings, calls, or other annoying noises when I’m trying to go to bed. Set a schedule for when your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” mode should kick in, and you’ll be able to keep your sleepy hours annoyance-free. Tap Do not Disturb > Turn on as scheduled to get started.
You can also use the “Allow exceptions” option to do just that—allow certain alarms, calls, or messages to break into your cone of silence. I find the “Repeat callers” option useful, in case someone is trying to reach you with urgent news.
Schedule your blue light filter and night modes: Whether you’re trying to fall asleep faster when using your phone at night, or you prefer dark mode so you don’t go blind from your phone’s bright, white screens, your Galaxy Note 10 has you covered. Tap on the Blue light filter and Night mode settings to schedule them, which will allow your phone to automatically flip on each feature when it starts getting dark.
Enable Vivid Mode for a poppier display: Tap on Screen mode, and you’ll be able to select “Vivid,” which boosts your display’s saturation. Colours will look a lot more vibrant, though some users don’t like the artificial feel. Give it a try and see if it improves your experience.
Boost your display’s resolution to 4K: By default, the Galaxy Note 10+ (in my case) uses a screen resolution of 2280-by-1080. However, it supports a screen resolution as high as 3040-by-1440. Tap on the Screen resolution setting to try this out, though it might cost you a little performance and/or battery life, especially if you’re a big phone gamer.
You might not even be able to perceive a quality difference between the FHD+ and WQHD+ resolutions. And that’s totally fine; feel free to turn your phone back to 2280-by-1080 if everything looks the same after a few days.
Adjust everything on your Home screen: This one’s a biggie. Tap this section and get ready to start making a lot of tweaks, including: picking whether you want to use a separate “Apps” screen or dump all your app icons on your Home screen, iOS-style; whether you’d like a 4x5, 4x6, 5x5, or 5x6 grid of icons for your Home or Apps screen; and whether you want your Home screen to automatically switch to landscape mode when you tilt your phone sideways.
You can also tap App icon badges to replace notification numbers with red dots, in case the number of unread messages in your email app is terrifying. If you don’t want to see any apps on your phone that you can’t otherwise uninstall, the Hide apps feature is also worth visiting.
Make your Edge Lighting look gorgeous: One of my favourite features on the Galaxy Note 10 is its edge screen, which can glow in a myriad of different ways to give you notifications. The default edge lighting, “basic,” gets the job done, but you can pick from plenty of other beautiful animations and glowing effects. Tap on Edge Screen > Edge lighting > Edge lighting style to get started. And don’t forget to edit which apps trigger edge lighting notifications using the “Manage notifications” option on the Edge lighting screen.
Completely change your Edge panel: When you slide your finger from the extreme right edge of your Galaxy Note 10's screen toward the centre, you pull open your device’s Edge panel. By default, it’s set to show apps—a list you can customise by tapping “Edge panels” and then “Edit” on the Edge Screen section. (You can also turn off the Edge panel entirely, if you don’t like it.)
You can also select a different Edge panel entirely, featuring live messages, people you frequently contact, the weather forecast, and reminders (to name a few options).
Switch from navigation buttons to gestures: If you feel like pretending you’re an iPhone user, tap on the Navigation bar option to switch from using those handy little buttons at the bottom of your Android’s screen to gestures. You can also change the order of the buttons themselves. Get wild.
Pretend you’re a PC and turn on your screen saver: Yes, your Galaxy Note 10 has a screen saver. You’ll find this setting at the bottom of the Display options. Enable it, and you’ll get something pretty to look at when your screen turns off while your device is charging. Tap the setting, and you can pick from a variety of fun options:
Leave your phone unlocked in trusted locations: Tap on Smart Lock, and you’ll be able to set parameters for when your phone should stay unlocked. (Using facial recognition as your screen lock type is just as easy and even more secure, but I can’t fault you for feeling lazy.)
Tap on Voice Match, and you’ll be able to set up your phone so it recognises “OK Google” commands even when the screen is off.
Add more security to your phone: If you haven’t set up all of your device’s biometric security mechanisms, like facial and fingerprint recognition,you can do this via the Screen lock type section.
Turn your smartphone into a ticking time bomb: OK, not really, but if you tap on Secure lock settings, you can pick how long your phone should wait before automatically locking once the screen turns off. More importantly, you can also tell your device to erase itself (and your data) if someone unsuccessfully attempts to unlock your phone 15 times—a setting that isn’t enabled by default.
Adjust your Always On Display to make it...always on: By default, you’ll need to tap your phone to pop up its clock and your notifications. You can also set it to always display this information—your poor battery—or stay on during scheduled times.
Add more information to your Lock screen / Always On Display: Tap on FaceWidgets (a terrible name), and you can add information like your currently playing music, your schedule, or the weather to your Lock screen and Always On Display—double-tap the clock/date on your Always On Display and then swipe your finger left and right to see it. If you’re on your Lock screen, you’ll only need to swipe left and right on the clock/date.
Tap on Contact information to add custom text to your Lock screen—useful if you want to make it clear that your device is “so and so’s phone,” or where a person can return it if they find it.
Pretty up your lock screen: Tap on Dynamic Lock screen to give it some style. You can pick from rotating images of landscapes, life, food, pets, or art. Each time you turn the screen on, you’ll have a different image to look at.
Biometrics and security
Add your face (or more fingers): If you haven’t set up face recognition on your device, or you want to add more fingerprints to make it easier to unlock your smartphone, you’ll do that here. Once you’re done, tap on “Biometrics preferences” to prioritise your face or your fingerprint (if you’ve set up both).
Give yourself a secure folder to hide things in: If you want a bit more security for certain apps and data, you can use the Secure Folder option to create a little protected storage space on your device. Anyone using your phone will need to authenticate as you (via whatever locking method you want) in order to access its contents, and you can even hide the folder itself on your Apps screen for extra safekeeping.
Pin apps to the screen when you let your friends use your phone: I love this feature. Tap on Other security settings, and then scroll to the very bottom until you see “Pin windows.” Tap that, and then turn the feature on. You’ll now be able to “stick” a window to the screen and prevent anyone else from jumping around to other apps on your phone—perfect to prevent a friend from rooting through your photos when you let them borrow your phone to make a call.
Accounts and backup
Add all of your other accounts: In case you want to sync up more services with your Samsung phone, this is where you’ll do it. Sign in to any number of different accounts to integrate them into your device’s various features (depending on the service).
Customise everything about your S Pen: Tap on the S Pen setting to pull up a bunch of useful features for Samsung’s little stylus. Tap on Air actions to change what its tiny button does when you tap it or hold it down—generally, or when you’re using specific apps.
You can enable the “Unlock with S Pen remote” feature to authenticate into your device by tapping the button, a convenient (but not super-safe) practice. Tap Shortcuts to modify the various apps and features that appear whenever you remove your S Pen from the smartphone. (That’s the “Air view” screen, but you can modify what happens when you pull out your S Pen by tapping on “When S Pen is removed.”).
Finally, you can trigger the “Use multiple S Pens” option to let your friends draw on your screen with their S Pens. It’s an S Pen party.
Create fun automations on your device: Open up Bixby Routines if you want to create triggers and other fun automations on your device. For example, you can have your device turn on the Blue light filter, turn down the volume, and adjust the screen’s brightness when it’s almost your typical bedtime—or, better yet, launch a certain scene on your Samsung SmartThings smarthome setup.
Prevent your side key from launching Bixby: If you’re not a fan of Samsung’s digital assistant, tap on Smart key and make sure that you’ve turned off any and all actions that could possibly trigger it.
Receive phone calls and texts on other Samsung devices: If you have other Samsung devices, enable this feature to ensure that you can also make and receive calls and messages on them. As long as your devices are linked to the same Samsung account, you’ll be able to do everything you could do on your phone on, say, your Samsung tablet.
Connect your phone to your Windows PC: Tap on “Link to Windows,” and you’ll be able to connect your Samsung device to your Windows PC via Microsoft’s handy Your Phone app. It’s a great way to receive notifications (and send/receive messages) even when your phone isn’t physically plugged into your PC (which you could then just use DeX to access).
Delete screenshots after you share them: If you take a lot of screenshots on your device—I know I do—then tap on Screenshots and screen recorder. Pick “Delete shared screenshots” to save yourself a step by nuking anything youv’e snapped after you share it.
You can also tap on Screen recorder settings to adjust what gets capture when you’re taking a video of your screen—include your microphone input if you want to create a title tutorial video for your friends, for example.
Wake your phone when you pick it up: Tap on Motions and gestures, and then tap on “Lift to wake” to automatically turn on your phone’s Lock screen whenever you pick it up off a flat surface.
Brighten up your videos: Similar to the “Vivid mode” feature we mentioned earlier, you can try turning on the Video enhancer to add more brightness and saturation to that which you watch on apps like YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, or Netflix. Try it out, see if you like it, and switch back if you can’t stand the enhancements.
Turn on emergency messaging for when you’re in trouble: I’m surprised this feature arrives off by default on the Samsung Note 10. Tap Send SOS messages to enable this incredibly useful feature—that you’ll hopefully never have to use. Tap the side key three times to alert your emergency contacts that you might be in danger; you can also elect to automatically send pictures and audio recordings of whatever is happening to provide them as much context as possible.
Force yourself to get ready for bed: I love Digital wellbeing’s “Wind down” feature. Schedule it, and it’ll turn your phone grey—and turn on Do not disturb mode, if you want—to encourage you to stop using your device and go to bed. Tough love.
Automatically close your apps (or restart your phone) on a schedule: Tap on Device care, and then tap on the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner. Tap on Auto optimisation to ensure your phone is running its little storage- and memory-clearing routine each day. If you have having a bunch of stuff open on your recent apps list, you can also have your phone close everything so you start fresh each morning.
Tap on Auto restart in that drop-down menu, and you can even have your device restart at a set time—well, within a one-hour window of a set time—each day. This is probably overkill for most people, but restarting your device slightly more often isn’t the worst approach.
Other settings worth exploring on your Samsung Galaxy Note
And you thought we were done when we finished with the official Settings app. Ha! There are still plenty more configuration options buried on your device that are absolutely worth knowing about.
Turn off Bixby Home: If you don’t like Bixby home—Samsung’s information-packed window the left of your primary home screen—turning it off is easy. Long-press on your home screen, swipe to the right, and disable it.
Turn on motion photos and HEIF (or RAW) images: Open up the Camera app and tap on the gear icon in the upper-left corner. Here, you can turn on Motion photos—turning simple single shots into tiny videos that capture what happened right before you took your picture. You can also tap on Save options to make sure you’re saving your shots in the space-saving HEIF format (or RAW, if you’re planning to do a lot of image editing after the fact).
Shoot videos in a much higher resolution (at 60fps): Your phone won’t shoot in 4K (or 60fps) by default; you’ll have to switch to this for your rear or front camera (or both) by tapping on the appropriate “video size” option under the Videos sub-section.
You should also tap on Advanced recording options and enable High efficiency video, to save as much space as humanly possible on your device. If you want, you can also try shooting in HDR10+, assuming you have a monitor (or television) that supports it for playback.
Turn on grid lines to create better compositions: Tap on the Grid lines option to enable them, a feature I find incredibly useful for making sure that the shots I’m taking are as straight-on as possible. They’re also great for making sure you’re placing your shot’s subject exactly where it looks best for whatever effect you’re trying to create.
Use Tracking auto-focus when people are running around: the Tracking auto-focus feature can help out a lot when you’re trying to shoot images of quickly moving subjects. Give it a shot—pun unintended—to make sure your camera stays focused on that which you’re trying to capture.
Enable location tags to better organise your photos later: For whatever reason, location tags are disabled by default for your smartphone’s camera. Enable them, and you’ll be able to tag where you shot your pictures—an incredibly useful way to sort and find them later.
Yell at your phone to take pictures: Tap on Shooting methods, and you’ll then be able to enable voice control. Now, whenever you say some annoying saying to your Camera app—like “Cheese”—it will take a picture.
Pull up the phone app and tap on the triple-dot icon in the upper-right corner. From there, tap on Settings.
Turn on Caller ID and spam protection: This one’s a no-brainer, but it also comes disabled by default on your phone. Turn it on, and your device will use the Hiya service to try to let you know who is calling (and whether or not it might be spam).
Block unknown callers: This feature, found in the “Blocked numbers” section of Call settings, is also a big spam-killer. If a caller isn’t on your contact list, they go to voicemail. Sure, that means you might miss calls from, say, the doctor’s office, but you can always call them back. It sure beats having to deal with robocall crap all the time.
Get a little more peace and quiet over emergency alerts: Nothing against emergency alerts, but if you’re the kind of person who would prefer your phone to stay as silent as possible, you’ll want to pull up the Messages app, tap on the triple-dot icon toward the middle-right, tap on Settings, and tap on Emergency alert settings. After that, tap on Emergency alerts and enable or disable whatever you want.