How to Set up an Apple Pencil

Learn how to activate the features on your Apple stylus

What to Know

  • Not all Apple Pencil models work with all iPads; make sure your Apple Pencil is compatible with the model iPad you're using.
  • For a 1st gen Apple Pencil to an iPad: Plug the pencil into the port on your iPad.
  • For a 2nd gen Apple Pencil: Bring the pencil to the right side of the iPad so it magnetically attaches to the side. Once attached, it's paired.

This article shows you how to connect an Apple Pencil to an iPad as well as providing insight into what you can do with the Apple Pencil once it's connected.

How Do I Connect My Apple Pencil to My iPad?

Since the Apple Pencil doesn't come with the iPad, you'll need to get it connected once you get everything unboxed. Fortunately, it's easy to connect an Apple Pencil. But note that how you connect the Apple Pencil will depend on what model iPad you have.

Once connected, the Apple Pencil and iPad will sync up, the firmware will update if necessary, and the pencil will charge. Assuming the Apple Pencil has enough battery charge, you can begin using your Apple Pencil.

How Do I Set up My Apple Pencil?

Once you've got your Apple Pencil connected, then you can change a few settings to get it to work exactly the way you want it to. Try these setting to set up your Apple Pencil to suit your needs.

To adjust the Apple Pencil settings go to Settings > Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil Settings options on iPadOS.

Change What a Double Tap Does

One useful feature of your Apple Pencil is the ability to double-tap it to change the functionality of the stylus. It's limited to a few options, but you can choose to either have it Switch Between Current Tool and Eraser or Switch Between Current Tool and Last Used. You also have the option to double-tap to Show Color Palette if you prefer, which is a handy feature if you're using your iPad for lots of graphic works in programs like Photoshop or Procreate.

Change How You Use the Apple Pencil

If what you want to use your Apple Pencil for is to navigate your iPad, you'll need to adjust that in the Settings options. You can toggle Only Draw with Apple Pencil On or Off, depending on what your preference is. When it's On (the slider will be green) you can only use the Apple Pencil for drawing and writing on your iPad. That means you'll need to use your fingers to scroll, swipe, and tap on your iPad. When it's Off (the slider will be gray) you can draw, write, or navigate with the Apple Pencil.

Use Your Apple Pencil to Handwrite in Text Boxes

Scribble lets you handwrite in any text box. Once Scribble is enabled, all you need to do is tap in the text box with your Pencil to write in that field. It takes a little practice in some areas (like a web browser's address bar), but once you get used to using it, it becomes a handy feature (since the pencil is already in your hand).

So Much More

There's so much more you can do with your Apple Pencil, but this covers all the basics you need to get started. You can also find out more about the best apps for Apple Pencil on your iPad or the best apps for Apple Pencil on your iPad Pro.

  • How can I tell if my Apple Pencil is charged?

    To check your Apple Pencil's battery status, attach the pencil (second generation) to your iPad and view its charge status on the screen. To see how much charge your pencil has while you're using it, check Today View on your iPad.

  • How long should I charge my Apple Pencil before using it for the first time?

    It doesn't take long to fully charge your Apple Pencil. Try charging it for 10-15 minutes before using it for the first time.

  • I have to keep re-pairing my Apple Pencil. What's wrong?

    If your Apple Pencil isn't pairing correctly, there are a few things to check. Check your battery status and make sure the Apple Pencil is fully charged. Make sure you're using an Apple Pencil that's compatible with your iPad, and make sure Bluetooth is turned on. If your iPad and Apple Pencil still aren't pairing properly, try disconnecting, then re-pairing the devices. Go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the information icon next to Apple Pencil. Tap Forget This Device, then confirm. Attach your Apple Pencil (2nd generation) on the side of your iPad magnetically. For a first-gen Apple Pencil, uncap the Apple Pencil and plug it into the iPad's Lightning port. The pairing should begin automatically.

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