How to Use Instant Markup in iOS 12 and iOS 11

Draw, sign, or add comments to Instant Markup-compatible apps

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a marked-up picture shows exactly what you're talking about. The iOS Instant Markup feature is found on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices. Use it to add markup to a screenshot as soon as it's captured. Use one of the Instant Markup compatible apps to add text and your signature to a PDF before emailing it, or doodle on a favorite photo in your photo library before sending it out in a Message.

Information in this article applies to the Instant Markup feature on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices with iOS 12 or iOS 11, except as noted.

Use Instant Markup With Screenshots

Instant Markup isn't a separate app on iOS devices. To access the Instant Markup interface with a screenshot, first, take a screenshot by simultaneously holding the Power and Home buttons on the device. On the iPhone X and later, press and release the Volume Up and Side buttons at the same time to take a screenshot.

You'll hear the sound of a camera snapping, and a small preview of the image appears in the lower-left corner of the screen. Quickly tap the thumbnail preview, as it only appears for about five seconds before disappearing.

The screenshot displays in the Instant Markup interface. The tools are at the bottom.

Markup tools on an iPad

Use the tools to annotate, draw, or edit the image using your finger or an Apple Pencil (if your device supports the pencil). The tools are, from left to right:

  • Pen: Draw on the screenshot with the width of a standard pen.
  • Marker: Draw on the screenshot with the width of a typical marker.
  • Pencil: Draw on the screenshot with the point of a pencil.
  • Eraser: Deletes entire items with a finger tap.
  • Lasso: Select any markups in the screenshot and move them elsewhere.
  • Color Swatches: Choose between white, black, blue, green, yellow, red, or—new in iOS 12—a color palette of 120 additional colors.

In iOS 12, the Pen, Marker, and Pencil tools were upgraded to offer custom opacity and different thicknesses.

On the far right side of the row of tools is a plus symbol inside a circle. Press this button to open a pop-up menu containing additional options, including:

  • Text: Places a text box in the foreground of the screenshot, where you can enter and modify the text size and alignment while choosing from one of three fonts (Helvetica, Georgia, and Noteworthy.)
  • Signature: Sign your name using your finger or a touch-screen pencil and place it anywhere on the screenshot.
  • Magnifier: Magnifies specified areas of the image.
  • Square Icon: Places a resizable square anywhere on the screenshot.
  • Circle Icon: Adds a resizable circle anywhere on the screenshot.
  • Speech Bubble: Adds one of four cartoon-style dialogue bubbles.
  • Arrow: Adds an adjustable arrow to the screenshot image.

Undo and Redo buttons are provided in the lower-left corner of the screen while editing. These can be used to add or remove the previous modification.

Save a Screenshot With Instant Markup

When you're satisfied with your marked-up screenshot and want to store it in your photo album, tap Done (found in the upper-left corner), then select Save to Photos.

Save to Photos option in iOS Photos

Share a Screenshot With Instant Markup

To share your modified image using email, social media, or other media, select the Share icon (the square with an up arrow that's located in the upper-right corner of the screen). In the iOS Share screen, choose from the different apps and other options for sharing your image. Scroll to the right for additional options.

Share button for a photo in the iOS Photos app

There's More to Instant Markup Than Screenshots

After you master the Instant Markup tools on screenshots, you're ready to move to Instant Markup-compatible apps, such as Messages, Mail, and Notes. You work within your app of choice to bring up the Instant Markup interface. For example, to mark up an existing photo and email it to a friend, start with the email. Here's how:

  1. Open the Mail app and start a new email or open an an existing email you want to reply to.

  2. Tap the body of the email to display a menu bar. Tap the arrow if necessary until you see Insert Photo or Video and select it to go to your Photo Library.

  3. Locate the photo you want to mark up and tap Choose to add it to the email.

    Inserting a Photo into an email in iOS
  4. Tap the image in the email to display the menu bar again. Then, select Markup.

  5. Use the markup tools at the bottom of the screen to enhance your photo. Tap Done when you're finished. Just like with screenshots, you can draw, add text or a signature, or magnify part of the image.

  6. Complete the email, then tap Send.

    Marking up a photo you're attaching to an email in iOS

Use this same method to edit or sign a PDF and return it via email.

The process works similarly in other compatible apps. The Notes app is particularly markup-friendly, especially if you have an Apple Pencil. In the case of Notes, you tap the markup icon—a pen tip inside a circle—to display the markup tools. No image is necessary.