Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil Tips to Get You Started

All current iPads support Apple Pencil as of 2019 with either the first or second generations, and if you love your iPad as much as I love mine, the Apple Pencil is worth it. Whether you’re starting with a base-level iPad or an iPad Pro, you can even use it with an iPad mini. 

To use your Apple Pencil with your iPad, you’ll have to pair them together. You must have the Pencil that pairs with your specific device. Here’s a link to Apple’s website for Apple Pencil Compatability. Once your Pencil is paired with your device, we’re ready!

Double Tap Shortcut on the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

The second-generation Apple Pencil has a hidden button on the flat side of the Pencil near the tip. Double tapping in that area by default will switch between your current tool and the eraser. You can change this in settings.

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap Apple Pencil and choose between 
  • Current Tool and Eraser
  • Current Tool and Last Used
  • Show Color Palette
  • Show In Attributes
  • Off


The double-tap shortcut only works in the supported app. It works excellently in Notes, and you can use it anywhere you draw, like Mail Photos, Files, and many third-party app support it.

Corner Swipe Gestures

On your iPad, you can swipe diagonally with your Apple Pencil from the display’s bottom left or right corner. By default swiping from the bottom left corner will take a screenshot, while swiping from the bottom right will open Quick Note.

These are the only actions available now, but you can change their positions or turn them off.

  • Open Settings
  • Tap Apple Pencil
  • Left Corner Swipe or Right Corner Swipe


Quick Note Gesture Using the Apple Pencil

If you love the Quick Note corner swiping gesture but don’t like how it resumes using the last Quick Note instead of starting a new one. You can fix that in Settings>Notes. Suppose you prefer a New Note every time toggle off Resume Last Quick Note.

A Corner Gestures menu lets you switch between Screenshot, Quick Note, or Off actions. 

  • Open Settings
  • Tap Notes
  • Select Corner Gestures

Allow Finger to Swipe from Corner if you prefer to access the corner gesture with only the Apple Pencil toggle off. Now it has become an Apple Pencil gesture only.

Use Handwriting to Enter Text Using the Apple Pencil

You can use the Apple Pencil Scribble feature to enter typed text in any text field through handwriting recognition. So you can write something by hand, and it will be converted as if you typed it out. It should be turned on by default, but if not,

  • Open Settings
  • Tap Apple Pencil 
  • Toggle on Scribble
  • Select Try Scribble to test it out.

It’s all converted on your iPad, so anything you write out stays private. 

Try using it in Reminder, Safari, Messages email, and more. Anywhere you can put text, you can handwrite with Scribble. Just start at the top of the text field and begin writing. If you don’t pause, you can continue writing outside the text field. 

Select and Edit Converted Text Using Apple Pencil

You’re sure to make mistakes when using Scribble, but there are some easy tricks to fixing any errors. First, try the ones below using the Try Scribble Feature I mentioned above.

Selecting Text

  • Underline a word, number, sentence, paragraph, or entire page to select it.
  • Draw a line through a word, number, sentence, paragraph, or full page to select it.
  • Double-tap a word or number to select it.
  • Double tap and hold a word or number, then drag to select more text in either direction.
  • Triple-tap a word or number to select the entire paragraph.
  • Drag the ends of the selected text to change the selection.

Editing Text

  • Scratch out a word, number, sentence, paragraph, or entire page horizontally or vertically to delete it.
  • Tap a text area to insert the cursor and write what you need.
  • Tap and hold on to a text area to insert additional text and write what you need in the open space before it disappears.
  • Draw a vertical line between characters to join or separate them.

Mark Up a Screenshot Using the Apple Pencil

After taking a screenshot with your Apple Pencil using the corner swipe gesture, the markup toolbar will automatical be displayed. If, for some reason, it doesn’t appear, tap the Markup icon to bring up the toolbar.

You can immediately handwrite, but if you want to convert your handwriting to typed text, tap the + sign in the toolbar. Now choose text to add a text box to the image. Then with the box highlighted, start handwriting in the text box. You can also tap the text box and select edit from the menu so you don’t inadvertently overwrite what’s in the box already.

Add A Signature to a Screenshot

You can select the + sign in the Markup Toolbar and tap Signature. This feature is available in the screenshot editor, Notes, PDF, and others.

A pop-up window will appear; add your Signature if you don’t already have one on file. When finished, tap Done to save. Now it will be available anytime you need to recall your Signature in the Markup tools.

To add or delete signatures, tap Add or Remove Signature after opening the Signature option in Markup.

Write a Note from the Lock Screen

You can tap your Pencil on the iPad screen, whether awake or asleep and write a Note that you will save to the Notes app. It always creates a New Note by default but can be customized via:

  • Settings
  • Notes
  • Access Notes from Lock Screen
  • Choose between Off, Always Create New Note, and Resume Last Note.

Draw in Email

While you can handwrite in an email with your Apple Pencil and have it auto-converted to text, you can also sketch drawings in an email draft.

  • Open Mail
  • Start a new email
  • Place your cursor in the text area
  • Choose the Markup icon from the toolbar at the bottom

Draw out your sketch with the Apple Pencil, hit done, then Insert the drawing to put the graphic in the draft email.


This post only covers the tip of the iceberg but should get you started with your Apple Pencil. Next, let me know how you use the Apple Pencil daily.

Need help with your device? I’m always available for a  Free Consult.

Like Video instead? Head to my YouTube channel for more great tips and a complete video walk-through.

Hi, I'm Ellen!

I help mature adults master their iPhone and iPads, even if they aren’t  techie! 

Learn more about me and how I can help you.

Click Here

Let's Connect!

Get My Top 7 Settings For Seniors in iOS