Use Apple Pencil with your iPad

You can use Apple Pencil to write, mark up and draw.

Before you begin

Draw with Apple Pencil

Open an app, like the Notes app. With iPadOS, move the tool palette around the screen or minimise it so you have more space to draw and sketch. The tool palette has different tools, depending on the app you're using. Use the ruler tool to create straight lines, then rotate them with your fingers. Made a mistake? You can delete by object or even by pixel.

iPad showing images drawn with Apple Pencil

To draw in the Notes app:

  1. Open Notes.

  2. Tap the Compose button to start a new note.

  3. Start drawing with your Apple Pencil.

You can also start by tapping the Markup button to open the tool palette. Choose from several drawing tools and colours, and switch to the rubber if you make a mistake. Double-tap the rubber to view deleting options on your iPad. When you draw, you can tilt your Apple Pencil to shade a line. With Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Apple Pencil (2nd generation), you can press more firmly to darken the line. You can drag the tool palette to a different edge of the screen. Tap the More button to auto-minimise the tool palette and see more options.

Find out more about drawing with the Notes app.

Drawing near the edge of the screen with your Apple Pencil won't activate Control Centre, Notification Centre or Multitasking. You can draw anywhere on the screen without getting interrupted.

Write with Apple Pencil

You can write a note with your Apple Pencil in Notes and other apps. With iOS 14 and later, you can write with your Apple Pencil in any text field.* You can convert your handwriting to text. And you can use a handwritten phone number, date or address as if you had typed it.

Write in any text field with Scribble

You can use your iPad and Apple Pencil to write by hand in any text field, like the search field in Safari or a text field in Mail.* All handwriting and conversion to text happens on your iPad, keeping your writing private and secure.

iPad screen displaying Scribble

You can find out how to delete, select, insert and join words using Scribble by going to Settings > Apple Pencil and tapping Try Scribble.

Convert your handwritten notes to text

You can convert your handwriting* in two ways:

  • You can write with the pen furthest from the ruler, which has an "A" on it. Your handwriting will convert automatically to text as you write.

  • If you already have some handwritten notes, you can select the notes and convert them to text:

    • Double-tap or touch and hold a word you want to select. Select more words by sweeping your finger over them. You can triple-tap to select an entire line of words.

    • Tap the selected words.

    • In the menu that appears, tap Copy as Text.

      iPad with an image and text demonstrating how handwritten note to text works
    • Paste the text elsewhere in the same document or in another app.

Use handwritten phone numbers, dates, addresses and more

And iPad screen demonstrating how handwriting can be converted to a new event in Calendar
  1. Tap a number, date, address or other recognised data that you've written. It will have an underline.*

  2. Choose what you want to do, like call the number or create an event.

Draw perfect shapes

You can perfect a lopsided circle or leaning square. Here’s how:

  1. Draw a shape by hand, like a circle, square or star, using a single stroke.

  2. When you finish the shape, pause with the tip of your Apple Pencil on the screen. The shape you drew will be replaced by a perfect one.

Apple Pencil hover

Apple Pencil hover allows you to mark, sketch and illustrate with even greater precision.

iPad Pro 11-inch (4th generation) and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation) support Apple Pencil hover and can detect the position of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation) or Apple Pencil (USB-C) as it hovers up to 12 mm above the display.

Apple Pencil hover works throughout iPadOS, such as when navigating the Home Screen, within apps like Notes and Safari, and across many apps available on the App Store. As you hover above a link, button or icon, you'll see it expand, change colour or otherwise alter. When drawing or illustrating, you can see a preview of your pen or brush before making your mark.

Apple Pencil hover is turned on by default. You can turn the feature off by going to Settings > Apple Pencil and turning off Show Effects when using Pencil.

Also in Settings > Apple Pencil, you can turn on Allow Double Tap only with Pencil Hover. This setting causes double-tap to only work while your Apple Pencil is in hover range of the display.

Double-tap Apple Pencil (2nd generation)

On an Apple Pencil (2nd generation), you can double-tap near the tip of your Apple Pencil to quickly switch back to the tool you used last. To change your settings for double-tap, go to Settings > Apple Pencil, then choose:

  • Switch between current tool and rubber

  • Switch between current tool and last used

  • Show colour palette

  • Off

Double-tap works only in supported apps, like Notes.

Learn more

  • If your Apple Pencil isn't drawing as expected, make sure its tip isn't loose. If it is, twist it to the right to tighten it.

  • Use Markup in apps such as Mail, Messages and Photos to add drawings, text and shapes with your iPad and Apple Pencil. For example, you can add a signature to a PDF.

  • Find out how to create an instant note from the Lock Screen or pick up where you left off on your last note.

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