The Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, and Note 8 phones all have a button to invoke Samsung’s digital assistant, Bixby. If you don’t use Bixby, you can re-program that button to do something more useful.

This trick works on all Galaxy phones that have a Bixby button, including the Galaxy S8, S8+, S9, S9+, and Note 8. We’ll be using an app called bxActions to make it happen, so go ahead and grab it from the Play Store and let’s do this thing.

What is bxActions and How Does It Work?

First things first—you’ll need to make sure the Bixby app has been set up before you get started. So if you haven’t used it at all, it’s time to at least run through the setup process quickly. Also, you have to leave Bixby enabled for this to work. So even though it sucks, don’t turn it off.

The reason you have to leave it on is because bxActions monitors for Bixby to launch, then quickly hijacks the action and launches your specific command instead. So, it’s not really remapping the button—just killing Bixby and launching another action very quickly.

It’s also worth noting right out of the gate that the core functionality in the app is free, but some of the more advanced features are reserved for the Pro version. That’ll set you back $2.99 if you’re into it—something we believe is well worth the funds if you find the app to be useful.

Setting Up and Using bxActions

Before you can get into the meat and potatoes of the app, you’ll need to first grant it a couple of permissions. After installing it, fire it up and hit the “Next” button on the first screen. From there, it’ll walk you through what to do.

First, it needs Usage Access. Tap the “Get Foreground App” button. That takes you directly to the Usage Data Access screen, where you should tap the “bxActions” setting. You then need to enable the “Allow Usage Tracking” toggle. This is what allows bxActions to whatch for Bixby to launch so it can hijack it and run your desired command instead.

Second, it needs permission to capture the Bixby button press. Tap the “Get Button Events” option, which then directs you to the Accessibility menu. Scroll down to the bottom and look for the bxActions entries in the Service section.

You’ll notice there are two options here: “bxAction – Bixby Button” and “bxActions – Volume Buttons.” The app isn’t limited to just programming the Bixby button—it also lets you to do more with the Volume keys. If you think that’s something you’ll want to check out, go ahead and enable both options. Otherwise, just enable the Bixby Button permission.

With both of the required permissions enabled, tap the “Done” button.

Now you’re in and it’s time to start putting that Bixby button to work. This app can do a lot, so the first thing you’ll want to do is set the action for your button (or buttons if you’re also programming the volume keys). Tap the “Actions” entry to give it a go.

The next menu is a simple one: choose the button for which you want to set the action. We’re going to focus primarily on the Bixby button here, but you should easily be able to follow along with volume buttons, too.

The default action for the Bixby button is to launch Google Assistant. But you’re not limited to just that. You can do a number of things here, like have the button launch the Task Manager or other system menus, dismiss all notifications, perform various media-related tasks, open the last app, turn on the flashlight, take a screenshot (Pro), launch a tasker task (Pro), and a lot more.

After selecting the action you want, tap the back button a couple of times to get back to the main bxActions menu, and then tap the “App” option at the top. This enables the button hijacking.

Go ahead and give the button a press to try it out. Cool, right?

Advanced Settings and Functionality

If you’re really into tinkering, you can squeeze some advanced functionality out of bxActions—but you’ll need to get your hands a little dirty. Also, all of the advanced features are part of the Pro version, so if you don’t plan on buying into the app, don’t worry about doing any of this. It does add a lot of functionality, however.

This actually requires a couple of ADB commands, but the developer of bxActions has taken all the guesswork out of it. He wrote a simple executable file that’s bundled with the app, allowing you to run the required commands with a simple double click if you connect it to a Windows PC. That’s good looking out.

Note: If you’re a Linux or Mac user, instructions are included in the app on how to execute the required ADB commands manually.

Go ahead an connect your phone to your PC, and then open the device in File Explorer.

In the device folder, open the “bxActions” folder.

There’s a single, Windows executable file inside named “Activate Control Mode.exe.” Give that bad boy a double click and watch the magic happen. (It’s not really magic, just a couple of commands).

When it’s finished, the command window lets you know it’s done and that you may need to restart your phone. Go ahead and do that just to avoid any issues.

With your phone back up and running, jump back into bxActions > Buttons. You should see a couple of new entries in this menu now: “Permissions Granted” (this confirms the commands were run correctly) and “Please Disable the Bixby Button.” Yep—now you have to kill the button. What a wild ride.

To do that, fire up Bixby Home, tap the little cog icon, and toggle the button to the off position. We also have deeper instructions if you’re having issues.

With the button disabled, head back into bxActions > Buttons. Everything should be blue now! You may need to re-enable the Bixby Button action now.

Back on the Actions page, you should have some new options for Peek Actions, Long Press Time, and Double Press Time. These are all in relations to the advanced features you enabled earlier.

Not only that, but there should also be new actions available for the Bixby Button Action for Double Press, Long Press, Double Press and Hold, and more.

You can now assign multiple actions to the Bixby Button, so pick your poison. That’s a lot of functionality from what was once a mostly useless button.

Profile Photo for Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is ex-Editor-in-Chief of Review Geek and served as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He covered technology for a decade and wrote over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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