Man using Gear VR

One of the biggest hurdles consumers have when using VR is figuring out the various controls. There’s a set of internal and external controls no matter what type of VR headset you use.

Your external controls will be what’s used by the headset itself; the internal controls will be what’s used by the app you use for VR, such as Oculus or Google Cardboard.

Let’s look at how to use the settings and controls for the Samsung Gear VR so you can get started with this headset.

Using the Controls for the Samsung Gear VR

First, we’ll look at the external controls for the Samsung Gear VR.

Gear VR external controls

We talked about how to adjust your lenses in our guide to VR safety, so you should be set there.

The Samsung Gear VR headset, on the right side of the headset, has a control pad you can use during VR scenarios. Depending on the scenario, the controls may vary some, but for the most part, when paired with the Oculus app, they will work the same.

At the top, you’ll have a back button. The back button allows you to go back in any app you use along with accessing the app’s settings by holding the button down for two to three seconds.

The control pad functions as you’d expect it to by allowing you to scroll up, down, left and right. For some games and apps, the control pad lets you move specific directions so that the headset will “follow” the direction as if you’re walking or running.

The center button of the control pad function as an Enter key, allowing you to input options, confirm choices, and more. For games, this often serves as a fire key allowing you to shoot rockets from a spaceship or lasers from a gun.

The functionality of the control pad, with the exception of the back button, will change depending on the VR experience so take a few moments when you start a new one to familiarize yourself with what the control pad does for you.

Using the Settings for the Oculus App Paired with the Samsung Gear VR

Now, we’ll look at the internal settings for Oculus when paired with the Samsung Gear VR.

Oculus settings

The Samsung Gear VR, when paired with the Oculus app, allows you to use the control pad and back button with ease. The back button, when held down, will take you to the headset’s settings enabling you to customize the experience further.

The center button of the control pad will function as your Enter key allowing you to make selections and confirm choices in your settings and on your home screen.

By holding the back button down for two to three seconds, you’ll be asked if you want to go to the Settings whether you’re on the home screen or in an app or game.

From the settings screen, you’ll be able to see your Oculus profile, friends and friend requests on the left side of the screen. On the right, you’ll have access to the settings menu and utilities.

Oculus profile

The primary settings allow you to see your Bluetooth connection, Wi-Fi connection, and battery charge. You’ll also be able to adjust the volume and screen brightness for a better VR experience. To change the brightness or volume, hover over each setting and click the center button on your control pad on the Gear VR itself.

Reorient is also a convenient setting on the initial settings menu, allowing you to change where your line of sight is based on how you’re setting or if an app glitches out and the orientation flies off the screen.

Below that, you’ll be able to use the pass through camera, turn notifications on and off and turn both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi off if necessary.

Oculus Utilities

The wrench and screwdriver icon is Utilities, which allow you to take a screenshot or record a video on Oculus. For now, these functions are limited based on the app and where you’re trying to use them; these utilities are useless for most users for the time being.

Playing Games, Using Apps, and Experiencing Scenarios

While the above settings and controls will work the same for the basic Gear VR and Oculus experience, controls will vary based on what type of games, apps, and scenarios you’re using.

Most of these situations will give you information on controls you need to be aware of so you can use them with ease. It may take a few minutes to get used to each control for the best experience in VR.


One of the most daunting challenges of using a VR headset is getting used to the controls, especially the external ones. Once you get the hang of the controls and settings of the setup you’re using, you can begin tinkering with external gamepads, Bluetooth keyboards, and more.

By taking the time to learn how your VR headset and app works, you can get the most out of your virtual reality experiences in no time.