How to Connect Apple Pencil to Your iPad

How to pair, charge, and use the Apple Pencil

What to Know

  • First generation Apple Pencil: Plug the Apple Pencil into the lightning port of your iPad. Tap Pair button that appears on the screen.
  • Second generation Apple Pencil: Attach the Apple Pencil to the side of the iPad. Tap Connect button that appears on the screen.
  • To check the Apple Pencil's charge status, go to Settings > Apple Pencil, or view the iPad Batteries widget.

This article explains how to pair your Apple Pencil with your iPad, how to use the device, and how to check an Apple Pencil's battery. We included Apple Pencil compatibility information because not all Apple Pencils work with all iOS devices.

How to Pair Your Apple Pencil With Your iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro

The first-generation Apple Pencil plugs into the iPad via a Lightning Adapter. The second-generation Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to the top of the iPad. To pair yours, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the iPad and unlock it.

    You must have Bluetooth turned on for your iPad. If you don't, a dialog box prompts you to turn it on. Simply tap Turn On, and Bluetooth activates on the iPad or go to Settings > Bluetooth and turn it on.

  2. Uncap the first-generation Apple Pencil and plug it in to the iPad or position the second-generation Apple Pencil on the wide side of the iPad Pro with the magnetic strip—you'll feel it snap to the iPad.

  3. Tap Pair or Connect depending on your Apple Pencil generation in the pop-up screen.

    Apple Pencil pairing screen on iPad

The Apple Pencil is ready to use.

Where Do You Use the Apple Pencil?

The Pencil is primarily a drawing or writing tool, although you can use it anywhere you use your finger on the iPad. If you want to take it for a test run, fire up the Notes app, go into a new note, and tap the icon that looks like a pencil tip in the lower right corner of the screen. This puts you in drawing mode in Notes. Then, make a selection from the tools at the bottom of the screen and start experimenting.

Notes app showing drawing tools

Although Notes is a handy app, you may want to upgrade to a more sophisticated drawing app. Paper, Autodesk Sketchbook, Penultimate, and Adobe Photoshop Sketch are four great apps for the iPad. They are also free for the base app, so you can take them for a test drive.

How to Check the Apple Pencil Battery

Apple says users can expect to get about 12 hours of charge on Apple Pencils. Since the Apple Pencil doesn't have a light to show its charge, you can check it in Settings or, in the case of the second-generation Apple Pencil, on the screen, or via a widget.

Go to Settings > Apple Pencil to check the charge on your second-generation pencil while it is attached magnetically. The charge shows at the top of the screen.

apple pencil percentage of battery

Also, when you attach the pencil to the magnetic strip, it briefly displays the current charge level on the screen.

apple pencil percentage on home screen

You can keep track of the charge on both generations of Apple Pencils through the iPad's Batteries widget. The widgets appear on the left side of the Home screen. If you don't see the Batteries widget, scroll to the bottom of the visible widgets and click Edit. Add the Battery widget from the list and pin it near the top. Then, you can see the battery charge of the Apple Pencil at a glance.

battery widget

If you need to charge the first-generation Apple Pencil, insert it into the same Lightning port at the bottom of the iPad you used to pair the device, or attach the magnetic second-generation Apple Pencil.

It takes about 15 seconds of charging to give you 30 minutes of battery power, so even if you are low on battery, it doesn't take long to get going again.

If the Pencil isn't working properly, various methods can be used to try and fix it.

Apple Pencil Compatibility

The first-generation Apple Pencil works with the following iOS devices:

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

The second-generation Apple Pencil works with:

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

How Apple Pencil Is Different

The capacitive tip on a stylus interacts with a touch-screen device in the same way that our fingertips register on the screen while our fingernails do not. So, how does the Apple Pencil work with the iPad and iPad Pro? The iPad's screen is designed with sensors that can detect the Apple Pencil, while the pencil itself communicates to the iPad using Bluetooth. This allows the iPad to register how hard the Apple Pencil is pressing and adjust accordingly, allowing apps that support the pencil to draw darker when the pencil is pressed harder against the screen.

The Apple Pencil can also detect when it is held at an angle, allowing the artist to turn a precise line into an eloquent brushstroke without the need to change to a new tool. This feature allows more freedom while working with the Apple Pencil.

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