12 Things You Didn’t Know Apple Pencil Could Do

The Apple Pencil is a hit. When Apple introduced it with their big 12.9-inch iPad Pro, artists gave it rave reviews thanks to how well it works. People like me love it because it handles handwritten notes better than any stylus you can get for the iPad. In addition, the iPad Pro works great as a laptop replacement. Now we have the smaller iPad Pro with a 9.7-inch screen to go along with the larger iPad Pro.

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The Apple Pencil has some issues, but it can also do some pretty cool things. Whether you’ve got the bigger iPad Pro 12.9-inch version or the smaller iPad Pro 9.7-inch version, the Apple Pencil can help you get some cool things done. We’ve collected 12 things that you didn’t know the Apple Pencil could do.

ipad pro and apple pencil with procreate

Secure Your Apple Pencil So You Don’t Lose It

I lost my first Apple Pencil. It’s easy to do because Apple designed it poorly without any way to secure the Apple Pencil to your iPad Pro. Some third parties now offer ways to keep this from happening. Take a look at these.

cover buddy for apple pencil and ipad pro

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One of the best options comes from Switch Easy. The Cover Buddy for the larger iPad Pro includes a spot on the back that holds the Apple Pencil in place. It keeps it secure and doesn’t easily pop out.

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When the user wants to put their iPad down it holds the iPad Pro at a slight angle, which works better for writing and onscreen typing.

The cover comes in black, white and clear. It’s $39.99 at their site or Amazon.

Leuchtturm Black Pen Loop for apple pencil

Two other options include the Leuchtturm Black Pen Loop which buyers can get on Amazon for only $8. It sticks to the iPad Pro or an attached keyboard. The Pencil slides into the loop with a snug fit so it won’t slide out too easily. This offers the cheapest option.

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stylus sling for apple pencil

The best in-between option comes from Stylus Sling. It’s holds the Apple Pencil inside an elastic pocket that stretches to fit over the edge of the iPad Pro Smart Cover or Smart Keyboard. There’s also a tiny pocket for the USB adapter that lets users charge their Apple Pencil with a Lightning to USB cable. Get it for $25 on Amazon.

 

Charge Apple Pencil Using iPad Pro Lightning Connector

When Apple Pencil owners first open the box, they need to pair the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro by connecting it to the iPad Pro’s Lightning connector. Leave it plugged in for a while to charge up the Pencil.

apple pencil plugged into ipad pro

Tap Pair when it pops up after connecting Apple Pencil to iPad Pro

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Apple promises 30 minutes of use after connecting the Pencil for 15 seconds. Leave it plugged in for more than fifteen minutes and it will likely hit 100%.

For a look at How to Pair and Charge Apple Pencil with iPad Pro, watch the video below to see how to do it.

Charge Apple Pencil with Lightning Dock

Do you also own an iPad or iPhone Dock? Use the included Lightning Adapter that Apple ships in the box and slide it onto the charging dock Lightning connector. Then put your Pencil on the dock. It works great on the dock I use.

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Unscrew the Tip to Replace It

apple pencil tip unscrewed

To replace the Apple Pencil tip, unscrew it. Hold the tip and twist the Pencil.

Apple put a replacement tip in the box with the Apple Pencil, but how do you change it? It’s simple. Just unscrew the tip that comes installed and it will come off. Then, attach the replacement tip and screw it on.

Draw Thicker Lines by Pressing Harder

apple pencil pressure sensitivity procreate app

Press harder and the Pencil will respond in apps like Procreate that support it.

The Apple Pencil includes pressure sensitivity in supported apps. Procreate 3 supports the Apple Pencil pressure sensitivity. Press harder and you’ll get thicker lines as demonstrated in the image above. Press lightly and it will respond. This helps artists create some beautiful things.

Procreate artist drawing example

Tilt the Pencil for Pencil Shading in Drawings

apple pencil shading in ios notes app

Hold the pencil normally and get regular lines. Hold it at an extremely low angle and draw using the side of the tip and you get shading.

Below you’ll see how to hold the Pencil to get this shading effect. Adobe Sketch supports the shading feature as does Apple’s iOS 9 Notes app.

shading with the apple pencil in notes for ios

Paper by FiftyThree will also support shading.

Add Drawings to Notes

create a new note and add a drawing in ios 9 notes app

Tap the new note icon to add a new note. Tap the drawing icon to add a drawing.

The Notes and Mail apps on iOS can add drawings and inking as of iOS 9. In notes create a new note by tapping the new note button in the upper right corner. It looks like a square with a pencil on it at a 45-degree angle. If the onscreen keyboard shows up, hide it by tapping the button on the lower right corner of the onscreen keyboard with the down arrow under a keyboard icon.

the drawing interface ios 9 notes app

The drawing interface on iOS 9 Notes app.

Tap on the icon in the lower right that looks like a squiggly line. This brings up the drawing interface. A drawing toolbar shows up at the bottom of the screen.

Create Straight Lines and Perfect Shapes

While we’re looking at Notes, users can use the Pencil to create a straight line by taping on the ruler icon. Use two fingers to place it where you want the straight line. Rotate it with the two fingers. Now use the Pencil to draw a line along the edge of the ruler. It automatically straightens the line perfectly.

paper by fiftythree helps pencil users create perfect shapes

Paper by FiftyThree will let Apple Pencil users create perfect shapes.

The Paper by FiftyThree app now supports Apple Pencil and includes a feature that helps people draw perfect shapes like circles, squares and triangles.

Open a drawing and tap on the toolbar button that shows a ruler behind the pen. The app will start to recognize shapes and lines and make them perfect.

Precision Pointing

Don’t forget that the Apple Pencil does a great job of just tapping the screen. Users can scroll pages, select small buttons, hunt and peck on the onscreen keyboard or use a third-party keyboard like Swype or Swiftkey. These keyboards let you type by moving from key to key without lifting the Pencil.

Take Notes in Your Handwriting

notability for ios

The best app for handwritten note taking on iOS is Notability.

Most people will think of the Apple Pencil as a drawing or art tool. However, it’s a great handwriting tool. You can use the Apple Notes app from iOS 9. But a few better options include the following:

  • Penultimate – connects with Evernote for great drawing and handwriting
  • Notability – uses iCloud to sync between iPad, iPhone, and Mac with great organization and will export to Evernote.
  • OneNote – the best solution for Windows users who also use the desktop version of OneNote
  • Evernote – the company added handwriting and drawing tools to the app, but we still prefer Penultimate or Notability
  • MetaMoji Note – Almost as good as Notability, but offers cross-platform syncing of notes so it’s the best option for people who use an iPad with an Android phone and a Windows computer.

Trace Through Paper

Thanks to Apple Insider for this tip. Put a piece of paper on the iPad Pro screen and use the Apple Pencil to trace the image on the page. The iPad Pro display still recognize the Pencil’s input through most 20 lb. bond paper.

If someone hands you a page in a meeting or school, you can trace things like pictures, charts or graphs.

Draw on Mail Attachment Images and Files

As we pointed out in our 51 New iOS 9 Tips, Tricks & Hidden Features, iOS 9 added the ability to draw on Mail attachments like picture files or PDF files. To do so, open up a message with an attachment. Tap and hold on the attachment till the pop-up shows (see below). Choose Markup and Reply.

choose markup and reply in mail

Press and hold on a Mail attachment and choose Markup and Reply.

The attachment image or PDF file will open and there’s a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Use the tools to make notes, highlight things or sign a PDF. The Apple Pencil will do a great job of marking up files.

writing on mail attachments with apple pencil