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How to Use Apple Notes with Apple Pencil

Apple notes and Apple pencil.

Once you start using Apple Notes with the Apple Pencil, you’re in for a smooth, streamlined experience. You can combine the natural feeling of drawing and handwriting with the app’s simple, practical editing tools. Convert handwriting to text, add illustrations and diagrams to notes, or markup images for easy collaboration or later fine-tuning. 

Your imagination really is the limit, but we’ve put together some step-by-step user tips to help you get the most out of your iPad. 

Convert Handwriting To Text In Apple Notes

Man using Apple notes with Apple pencil on an iPad.

Method 1 – The Handwriting Tool

The handwriting tool takes your handwritten gestures and automatically converts them into the editable text as you write. 

1. Start by launching Apple Notes from your iPad.

Ipad homescreen.

2. Start a new note.

Apple notes, starting a new note.

3. Click the Markup icon in the upper right.

4. Next, choose the handwriting tool in the bottom toolbar. It looks like a pen with the letter A on it.

Apple notes on iPad.

5. As you write naturally with the Apple Pencil, your handwriting will appear as text beneath the writing area.

Apple notes with writing area for Apple pencil.

Apple notes with different markers for Apple pencil.

Method 2 – The Lasso Tool

With the lasso tool, you write first and convert your handwriting to text later. With this method, your text needs to be pasted into a new Apple Note.

1. Start by launching Apple Notes from your iPad.

Apple notes all alone on an iPad homescreen.

2. Start writing with your Apple Pencil.

Apple pencil writing on Apple notes.

3. Once you have finished, switch to the Lasso tool. 

4. Draw around your handwriting with the tool. You will see a dashed border appear.

Handwriting tool on Apple Notes.

5. Tap the writing inside of the border.

6. On the pop-up that appears, click Save To Text.

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Apple Notes drawing by Apple Pencil, with save as text above.

7. Open a new note. 

8. Tap the screen to make a pop-up appear and select Paste.

Paste option on Apple Notes.

Writing on the Apple Notes.

Draw Straight Lines With The Ruler Tool

If you find you need perfectly straight lines to divide up your working area or to join related ideas, you’ll get a lot of use out of the Markup toolbar’s clear ruler tool.

Select the ruler tool from the markup menu. You’ll see a clear ruler appear on your workspace. Simply move the ruler into position and draw along one side.

You can position it horizontally, vertically, and at practically every angle in between. You will end up with a perfectly straight line every time. To turn the ruler off, click the ruler tool in the toolbar one more time.

Pen, marker, highlighter, pencil or crayon options on Apple Notes.

Vary The Weights Of Your Markup Tools For Different Effects

Each drawing or writing tool in the Markup toolbar can be customized with varying widths, opacities, and colors. Experiment with different combinations to find the look you’re going for. You might just be able to leave the pens, markers, pencils, highlighters, and crayons at home from now on.

The markup toolbar on Apple Notes.

Choosing options for Apple Pencil on Apple Notes.

Turn Shaky Shapes Into Diagram-Worthy Polygons

Sometimes we want a triangle, but what we get, well, isn’t something more like a pyramid in an earthquake. With Apple notes and the Apple Pencil, you can straighten up those shapes with just a long press.

Draw a shape, like a triangle, square, or circle, but don’t lift your pencil. You’ll see the sides of your shape automatically go from struggling to straight.

A triangle drawing made with Apple Pencil.

A triangle drawing on Apple Notes, made with Apple Pencil.