You cannot skip touchscreen gestures when using Galaxy S21. Even if you choose to use navigation buttons, you still need to use the touchscreen gestures for many operations on Galaxy S21.
This Galaxy S21 how-to guide explains the 8 supported touchscreen gestures on Galaxy S21 and demonstrates how to use them. Some advice on taking care of the Galaxy S21 screen is also covered.
This guide applies to all models and variants of Galaxy S21 phones because the touchscreen gestures are a common software feature on these phones.
What are the supported touchscreen gestures on Galaxy S21?
Galaxy S21 supports 8 touchscreen gestures:
- Tap (single tap).
- Triple tap.
- Long tap (tap and hold).
- Swipe (slide).
These are touchscreen gestures supported at the system level. Some apps may support other fancy gestures.
Tap (single tap)
Tapping is the simplest and most frequently used touchscreen gesture on Galaxy S21.
You touch (tap) somewhere on the Galaxy S21 screen once, then move your finger away from the screen, as illustrated below.
When using DeX with a mouse, the corresponding operation is “click”.
The action of the tapping gesture depends on the object you touched and the app you are using. For example, if you tap an app icon or a file, Galaxy S21 will try to open it. If you tap a link, Galaxy S21 will try to open the corresponding webpage. But if you tap a quick settings button, you may just enable/disable the feature.
Here are some example usages of using the tapping touchscreen gesture on Galaxy S21.
- Open an app by tapping the app icon on the Galaxy S21 Home screen or Apps screen.
- Navigate to Galaxy S21 Home screen, Recents screen, or previous screen by tapping on the navigation buttons.
- Navigate to another page by tapping a menu item.
- Toggle some Galaxy S21 features by tapping the quick setting buttons.
- Change Galaxy S21 camera focus by tapping the desired location in the Galaxy S21 camera app preview screen.
- Tap the shutter button in the camera app to take photos or record videos.
- Open a webpage by tapping a link.
- Type input by tapping on the keyboard.
You need to quickly tap the same location twice, as shown in the animation below, to register the double-tap gesture.
If the interval between two taps is too long (e.g., longer than 2 seconds), the gesture will be registered as two separate single taps.
When using DeX with a mouse, the corresponding operation is “double-click”.
The action of the double-tap gesture on the Galaxy S21 is usually to “wake up” or to enter a special mode. For example, you can double-tap on the screen to turn off the screen or to wake up Galaxy S21. You also need to use the double-tap (or single tap) gesture to access face widgets on the lock screen.
So, do not confuse the function of the double-tap gesture on Galaxy S21 with the double-click on a PC.
Here are some examples of using the double-tap gesture on Galaxy S21:
- Wake up the screen by double-tapping on it when it is off.
- Turn off the screen by double-tapping on the Galaxy S21 Home screen or lock screen.
- Zoom-in or Zoom-out a photo in the Gallery by double-tapping on it.
- Zoom-in (zoom-out) a webpage by double-tapping in the browser.
- Access face widgets on the Galaxy S21 lock screen and AOD screen by double-tapping the clock.
- Show or hide navigation bar if you enable Show and Hide navigation bar feature in NavStar.
Similar to the double-tap gesture, the triple-tap gesture requires you to tap the same location quickly, but three times, instead of two. If you do not tap quickly enough, the gesture may be registered as three single taps or a double-tap with a single tap.
The triple-tap gesture is one of the special Galaxy S21 touchscreen gestures. It is designated for screen magnifying.
You can enable or disable it in Settings — Accessibility —Visibility enhancements—Magnification—Magnification shortcut —Triple tap screen.
Long tap (tap and hold)
To register a long tap gesture, you need to tap on the screen, then keep the finger on the screen (hold) for more than 2 seconds, as shown in the animation below.
If you release your finger from the screen too early, it will be registered as a tap gesture.
When using DeX with a mouse, the corresponding operation is “right-click”.
On Galaxy S21, the action of the long-tap gesture is mainly to open the context menu or select an item.
Here are some examples of using the long-tap (tap and hold) gesture on Galaxy S21:
- Access the context menu, including uninstalling the app, accessing app shortcuts, clearing the notification badge by long-tapping on an app icon.
- Resize a widget by long-tapping on it.
- Select a text or image by long-tapping on it in the Gallery app or My Files app.
- Enter Galaxy S21 Home screen edit mode by tapping and holding on any blank area on the home screen.
- Lock autofocus and auto exposure (AF/AE lock) by long-tapping on the desired location on the Galaxy S21 camera app preview screen.
- Launch Google Assistant (or Bixby) by tapping and holding the Home button.
- You can access the settings page if you tap and hold the quick setting buttons in the Galaxy S21 quick panel.
Your finger needs to touch the screen, then immediately drag your finger to one of the 4 directions (up, down, left, or right), as shown in the animation below.
During this period, your finger should always touch the screen without staying in any location too long. If your finger stays on one location too long, it will be registered as a long tap gesture or drag gesture.
If your finger leaves the screen too quickly (without swiping long enough), a tap gesture may be registered.
The most well-known use of the swipe gesture is to swipe to unlock. Of course, there are many different actions for the swipe gesture on Galaxy S21.
Here are some examples using the swipe touchscreen gesture in Galaxy S21:
- Unlock Galaxy S21 by swiping on the lock screen (only if you set Galaxy S21 lock screen security as swipe to unlock, which is not recommended, or if you unlock the phone with face recognition without disabling stay on the Lock screen. ).
- To get the unlock screen to type PIN/password by swiping in the Galaxy S21 lock screen. When typing PIN/password, you can hide them as explained in this guide.
- Answer or reject a call by swiping right or left on the phone icon when Galaxy S21 rings.
- Dismiss or snooze notifications by swiping on the notification in the notification panel.
- Access the notification panel by swiping down from the status bar or top of the screen.
- Navigate to diffeent Galaxy S21 home screen panels by swiping left and right on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
- Switch between Galaxy S20 Apps screen and Home screen by swiping up and down.
- Switch between the front and rear cameras by swiping up and down in the Galaxy S21 camera app.
- Access Galaxy S21 quick settings by swiping down twice from the status bar.
- In the Galaxy S21 camera app, you can swipe from the shutter button to the bottom edge to take burst shot photos (Galaxy S21 burst mode).
- If you are using Galaxy S21 navigation gestures, you need to swipe up from the bottom or swipe from the bottom and sides to navigate through different pages/apps
To register the drag gesture, you need to hold (long tap) on an object then moves the finger on the screen. You can release your finger only when it reaches the desired destination, as illustrated in the animation below.
Once your finger leaves the screen, the drag gesture is registered.
When using DeX with a mouse, the corresponding operation is “left click (without release) and drag ”.
You may notice the drag gesture is somewhat similar to the swipe gesture. But the differences between these two Galaxy S21 touchscreen gestures are obvious:
- Drag gesture always acts on an object. You need to hold it first. While Swiping normally does not have an object.
- Drag gesture always stops at the desired location. In contrast, the swiping gesture can stop anywhere, as long as Galaxy detects the direction of the swipe.
- A successful drag gesture usually results in a moved/relocated object.
As mentioned, the most common usage of the drag gesture is to move or relocate an item.
Here are some examples of using the drag gesture on Galaxy S21.
- To relocate app icons in the Home screen and Apps screen.
- To add apps or widgets from the Apps screen to the Home screen.
- To access the Galaxy S21Edge screen by dragging the Edge screen handle.
- To create app folders by dragging one icon over the other.
The pinch gesture requires you to move two (any two) fingers inward to a commonplace on the Galaxy S21 touchscreen, as illustrated below.
Here are some example usages of the pinch gesture.
- To zoom out photos in the Gallery App.
- To zoom out a webpage in a web browser.
- To change the camera zoom level in the Galaxy S21 camera app.
- To enter the edit mode of the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
The spread gesture is the opposite of the pinch gesture.
To register a spread gesture, you need to move two fingers outward (i.e., separate two fingers), as illustrated below.
Normally, the spread gesture is used together with the pinch gesture. Sometimes, they are considered as a pair of Galaxy S21 touchscreen gestures.
How to take care of the Galaxy S21 screen?
Galaxy S21 is not cheap, and screen repair is usually very expensive. So. it is important to use the touchscreen properly.
Avoid screen burn-in (ghost image)
Screen burn-in is one of the most common screen issues. It is caused by showing static (fixed) graphics on part or all of the Galaxy S21 touchscreen for
You can easily alleviate such an issue by:
- Using a shorter screen timeout, e.g., 15 or 30 seconds.
- Avoiding any fancy always-on display (AOD) screen.
- Taking a rest regularly (e.g., every 1 hour) if you have to work on the phone or tend to use the phone for hours. Both you and the phone will be happier.
Please note, you can always press the Side key to turn off (or wake up) the screen.
Protect screen damage
In most regions, a plastic screen protector was pasted on Galaxy S21 when the phone leaves the factory. The quality of the free screen protector actually is decent and offers some protection for screen damage.
Of course, Samsung offers this screen protector because it is compatible with the under-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader. Some tempered glass screen protectors may not work well with the stupid fingerprint reader.
It is recommended to keep the screen protector unless you get a new screen protector.
Besides, you can also consider a flip cover for Galaxy S21 unless you hate cases on the phone. Frankly, unlike old-school plastics, the smooth finishing of the phone makes it “slippery” in the hands. A flip cover may save your screen!
You should not tap the Galaxy S21 touchscreen with any sharp objects.
Also, the touchscreen is sensitive enough so that you do NOT need to tap the screen with excessive force.
Some game players may delusionally feel it is faster when tapping with force. The truth is that it takes a longer time to finish your tap. The screen response time does not improve with the force when using any of the touchscreen gestures.
Electrostatic discharges can cause the touchscreen to malfunction. So, you should keep the Galaxy S21 touchscreen from contacting other electrical devices.
Do you have any questions on using touchscreen gestures on Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra?
If you have any questions or encounter any problems with touchscreen gestures on Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra, please let us know in the comments.
The community will help you.
If you have any questions on using Galaxy S21, you may check our detailed step-by-step Galaxy S21 guides:
- Galaxy S21 new features guides.
- Galaxy S21 how-to guides.
- Galaxy S21 camera guides.
- Galaxy S21 accessories guides.
You can also post questions or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
The official Samsung Galaxy S21 user manual (PDF) in your local language can be read and download here.
If you want, you can drop us an email on the contact us page.