How to use Apple Pencil: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve used a stylus on the iPad or other graphics tablets previously, you’ll find some aspects of the Apple Pencil familiar — and others very different. Here’s a crash course in all things Apple Pencil for you!

First: Pair your Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro

Before you can start using your Apple Pencil, you’ll need to pair it to your iPad Pro.

  1. Make sure the iPad you want to use is on and unlocked, then uncap your Pencil.

  2. Plug in your Pencil to the new iPad.
  3. When the Bluetooth Pairing Request appears, tap Pair.

You can now use your Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro! If you want to move your Pencil to a different iPad, you need only follow the above steps on the original model.

Next: Open a compatible app and get started

You don’t have to engage a special menu or complicated per-app pairing process to use Apple Pencil: Once you’ve paired it to your iPad Pro, you’re ready to draw, write, sketch, or navigate in any app you choose — just put the Pencil’s pen nib to the iPad Pro’s glass screen and get to it!

The Apple Pencil doesn’t have an eraser or special buttons — but it is fully pressure- and tilt-sensitive

Unlike Wacom’s patented styluses, the Apple Pencil doesn’t offer an eraser nib or special programmable buttons: All your primary interactions with the iPad Pro’s screen happen through the Pencil’s white nib.

That’s not to say the Pencil doesn’t have a few tricks up its sleeve, however: It’s fully pressure- and tilt-sensitive, which means you can press harder against the screen to get a thicker line, or tilt your Pencil against the screen to virtually “shade” in a drawing or draw calligraphic letters.

Some apps, like Astropad Studio, even offer special combination Pencil-and-touch gestures that have the same uses as function buttons.

You can use the Apple Pencil to navigate your iPad Pro

Whether you have RSI issues or just like being able to use a stylus on your tablet in-between drawing or writing sessions, the Apple Pencil supports basic navigational tapping and swiping within iOS. Because multitouch gestures and the Pencil are recognized separately by the iPad’s operating system, it may not be supported for advanced gesture-based navigation, like multi-finger operations, in separate apps.

There’s an upside to that, however: In certain apps (as in the aforementioned Astropad Studio), you can even use your fingers and Apple Pencil simultaneously. Notes is also a great example of this: Touch two fingers down when drawing in Notes, and you’ll get a ruler you can use to draw straight lines with the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil can be used for just about everything

Even if you’re barely familiar with sketching, handwriting, or calligraphy, you can do a lot with the Pencil and iPad Pro. Here are just some of the awesome things you can do:

How to draw and write like a pro with Apple Pencil

Check out some ace drawing apps for Apple Pencil

Check out some wonderful note-taking apps for Apple Pencil

Turn your iPad Pro into a Wacom tablet with Apple Pencil and Astropad

A Review of the Apple Pencil — using the Apple Pencil itself!

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