How to Use the Apple Pencil with iPad Pro's Notes App

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While the software in the iPad Pro is similar to what you get in other iOS devices, Apple optimized its Notes app to be a great canvas for drawing with the Apple Pencil ($99). You'll get different results depending on what tool you select in Notes, and how you hold the Pencil against the screen.

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There are other iPad Pro apps you can use with the Apple Pencil, but Notes has become a popular option because it's already on every iPad Pro and offers very low latency. Before your iPad Pro will recognize the Apple Pencil's tip, make sure to pair the two by docking the stylus in the tablet's lightning port and selecting Yes to the options presented.

How To Use the Apple Pencil with iPad Pro's Notes app

1. Open the Notes app and tap on the New Note icon.

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2. Tap on the doodle line icon to start a new drawing.

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There are 24 colors to choose between and you can swipe the available colors to choose between them.

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Select the Pen tool, and you can make thin lines by drawing lightly with the Apple Pencil and make thin lines by pressing the Pencil harder.

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Select the marker tool and you can increase how thick your lines are by increasing how much of the Pencil tip you press against the screen. From left to right, these lines were drawn with increasing amounts of the Pencil tip against the iPad Pro.

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With the Pencil tool selected, you can draw straight lines (left) with the tip of the Apple Pencil, and you can draw shading (right) by drawing on the tablet with the flat edge of the Apple Pencil tip.

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Either select the Ruler tool from the menu bar (or hold two fingers on the screen at the same time) to bring up a ruler you can draw against with the Apple Pencil to create straight lines. You can move your fingers to adjust the its angle.

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Since the Apple Pencil has a lightning port connector where most other pencil erasers would be, select the Eraser tool when you need to wipe part of your sketches away. Pressing the full width of the Apple Pencil's tip against the screen will erase a large circle.

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Tracing over a drawing on a piece of paper on top of the iPad Pro works too! Our own designer and infographics artist Karl Tate demonstrated this trick:

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Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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10 comments
  • Russ Sivey Says:

    Can't get notes to use iPad Pro pencil. I loaded this new iPad from iCloud.

  • Marshapril Says:

    I have same problem no doodle line on notes app

    Mr fix guy I do not have an upgrade button on the top of current notes. Please help

  • Mr Fix Guy Says:

    If you can't get the pencil to work with notes, you need to upgrade your notes and ensure you are using icloud drive notes, when you have a list of current notes you have, up the top should be an upgrade button

  • Franco Says:

    I also am not able to get the doodle line on Notes app!

  • Vincent Hicks Says:

    How can get to edit a pdf (preview app) drawing with pencil on iPad pro? Notes app cannot open the pdf drawing.

  • Steven Says:

    I too cannot get the doodle line on my Notes app.

  • Dayna Says:

    I cannot get the option for a doodle line on my notes app on my iPad pro.

  • Duane Naugle Says:

    I cannot get notes to work with my apple pencil. I never get the option for a doodle line

  • Duane Naugle Says:

    I cannot get notes to work with my apple pencil. I never get the option for a doodle line

  • Bruce Wilkins Says:

    I have used the apple pencil on several apps, but I am unable to get notes to recognize it.

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