How to Fix It When Apple Pencil Isn't Working

When your pencil acts up, the fix is often easy to handle

There are several possible causes behind your Apple Pencil not working as expected; most have fairly easy fixes. Troubleshooting tips for Apple Pencil are mostly the same for both generations of the accessory.

Information in this article applies to the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Apple Pencil (1st generation) on a compatible iPad.

Check the Battery

The battery in your Apple Pencil has to be charged for the pencil to work.

To check the battery status on your iPad and verify whether your Pencil is charged, do the following:

  1. Check the Widgets view on your iPad for the battery status. You can find widgets in the Today View. To get there, swipe right on the Home screen, the Lock screen, or while you're looking at your Notifications.

  2. Look in the Batteries widget. If you don't see your the widget, make sure you have your Pencil set up with Bluetooth and Batteries is chosen to appear in Today's View.

    iPad showing Today's View and Batteries widget
  3. You can also check the battery status by selecting Settings > Apple Pencil and looking for the charge at the top of the main screen.

    Apple Pencil settings on an iPad
  4. If the battery shows 0%, you need to charge the pencil.

    • Charge the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) by attaching it magnetically to the side of your iPad. Bluetooth must be turned on for the Apple Pencil 2 to charge.
    • Charge the Apple Pencil (1st generation) by plugging it into the lightning connector on your iPad or by using the USB power adapter that came with the Apple Pencil.

    The Apple Pencil charges quickly, so if the battery was dead, charging it should get you up and running quickly.

Confirm Pencil Compatibility With iPad

Apple Pencil 1st and 2nd generations run with different models of iPads, so if you're trying to use your new 2nd generation Apple Pencil with an iPad you previously used with a 1st generation Apple Pencil, it's not going to work.

Apple Pencil (1st generation) Compatible iPads

  • iPad (6th and 7th generation)
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st or 2nd generations)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) Compatible iPads

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd and 4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch

Confirm Bluetooth Is Turned On

The Apple Pencil requires a Bluetooth connection with your iPad to work. If your Apple Pencil doesn't show up in the list of devices under the Battery widget, or there isn't a Battery widget at all, it's most likely that Bluetooth is turned off or needs to be reset. To check, do the following:

  1. On your iPad, tap Settings.

    The Settings app on iPad
  2. Tap Bluetooth. Tap the toggle switch to turn on Bluetooth if it isn't turned on. You should see your Apple Penci in the My Devices section if it is paired with the iPad.

    iPad settings with Bluetooth selected
  3. If Bluetooth won't turn on or you see the spinning/loading icon, restart your iPad and try again.

    This is also a great way to troubleshoot Bluetooth malfunctioning issues.

Bluetooth and Pencil Not Paired

If your Apple Pencil's not pairing with your iPad or the iPad has lost the pairing, re-doing the Bluetooth pairing process could resolve your Apple Pencil problem.

  1. Ensure the iPad is on, unlocked, and Bluetooth is enabled by going to Settings > Bluetooth. Even if you see your Apple Pencil listed, if it isn't working, you may need to re-pair it.

  2. Tap the information icon (the i in a circle) next to Apple Pencil in the Bluetooth settings screen.

    The information icon next to Apple Pencil in the Bluetooth settings screen
  3. Tap Forget This Device in the screen that opens.

    Apple Pencil settings showing option to Forget This Device
  4. Confirm that you want the iPad to forget the pencil in the pop-up window by tapping Forget Device.

    Confirmation window to forget the Apple Pencil
  5. Position your Apple Pencil (2nd generation) along the side of your iPad magnetically. For Apple Pencil (1st generation), uncap the Apple Pencil and plug it into the lightning port of the iPad.

  6. A Bluetooth Pairing Request dialog may appear, in which case select Pair, or the pairing may occur automatically if the pencil has been paired before. The repaired Apple Pencil is visible in the Settings > Bluetooth screen.

Pencil Tip Is Worn

If your Apple Pencil behaves erratically or not at all, the Pencil tip could be worn out. Replacing the tip is simple.

Although there isn't a recommended length of time the Pencil tip should last, many owners replace them when the feel, finish, or functionality starts to diminish. If the finish or feel is rough or like sandpaper, you should replace the Pencil tip to prevent it from scratching the surface of the iPad.

To replace, unscrew the pencil tip in a counterclockwise direction until it comes off, and then install the new tip by screwing the tip clockwise until it feels secure in your Apple Pencil.

If you don't screw the tip all the way in, the Apple Pencil won't work correctly or at all.

App Doesn't Support Apple Pencil

Not all apps support the Pencil. To verify your Apple Pencil is working, open a known supported app, such as Notes. The Notes app is a reliable and excellent choice to test your Pencil, and it should be on your home screen. If you don't have it, download it.

Time to Contact Apple

If you've tried all these troubleshooting steps and you are still having problems, it is time to contact Apple. The Apple Pencil comes with a one-year limited warranty. If your pencil is no longer covered by the warranty, the cost for battery service is $29, according to Apple. You can either make an Apple Genius Bar appointment or call 1-800-MY-APPLE. You can also visit the Apple support website for a mail-in repair or replacement.

  • How do I set up an Apple Pencil?

    To set up an Apple Pencil second generation, bring the pencil to the right side of the iPad so it magnetically attaches to the side. Once attached, it's paired, set up, and ready. For first-gen Apple Pencils, plug the pencil into the port on your iPad to set it up.

  • How do I turn on an Apple Pencil?

    There's no Apple Pencil on-off switch. It stays connected to your iPad via Bluetooth and is ready to go when paired. Apple Pencils will go into Sleep Mode when Bluetooth is off but will "wake up" when nudged even slightly.

  • How do I connect an Apple Pencil to an iPhone?

    Apple Pencils don't work with iPhones due to hardware and display incompatibility. Apple Pencils work only with compatible iPads.

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