The Apple Pencil is a wonderful tool for artists who want to draw and create something on a digital canvas, but what about those people with no artistic talent? Is the Apple Pencil useless for them? Absolutely not!Don’t believe me? Here are 5 things non-artists can do with the Apple Pencil on their iPad Pros.

DISCLAIMER: While the Apple Pencil is the main focus of this article, it is not necessary. So if you have an iPad Air or the latest iPad a 3rd party Stylus will work just fine for most of these things (except Instant Notes). So don’t feel left out if you don’t have an iPad Pro. This is also for all you non-Pro users!

1. Image Markup

iOS 11 really outdid itself when it came to screenshots. Now, instead of having to dig through Photos to find that screenshot you took, when you take the screenshot it shows up on the bottom left-hand corner for you to tap on and markup.

From there you can do things like make annotations on a webpage, circle where your mom needs to go in the settings, or anything else you need to do to get your point across to someone in the screenshot.

I use this more often than when I had a Workflow to annotate screenshots back in iOS 10 and earlier. Something about being able to natively edit a screenshot without having to leave what I’m looking at is so satisfying and convenient.

Give it a shot next time you need to write on a screenshot, you won’t be disappointed!

Here’s a great video from Apple Insider that shows you just how powerful screenshot markup and Instant Notes (which is next!) can be.

2. Instant Notes

iOS 11 really made the Notes app a very viable option to handle your ideas, writings, sketches, and more thanks to improved Apple Pencil support and a ton of backend improvements in the app as well.

The one feature you may not know about though is the fact you can tap on the lock screen with your Pencil and a new Note will appear for you to sketch on and make notes.

This is especially useful for students who need to write out something their professor is saying quickly so they don’t miss anything. It is also useful if you are the kind of person who needs to take notes for meetings at work or you need to get your ideas out of your head and on to a page immediately.

3. A Secondary Input Device

If you are like many who get cramps and pains when working in the same position, you might have RSI. RSI is more serious than an occasional strain or a little discomfort, it can be permanent if you don’t do something about it.

One thing that can be very helpful is switching how you do your work. Instead of constantly using your hand on the iPad you can switch over to the Pencil as an input device as it totally changes what muscles you’re using and allows the body to keep from straining.

Also, if you don’t have any indications of RSI it is still nice to be able to change things up from a mental perspective. If we get too complacent on how we do our work your brain isn’t going to be stimulated and you may fall behind in your work. Changing things up can be helpful for you the next time you have to be on your iPad for a long period of time. Not to mention a Pencil is much more comfortable to use when navigating your iPad whilst it is upright for keyboard use.

4. Email Files Markup

If you aren’t the type to take lots of screenshots and/or notes, markup could still be useful for you when handling email and files from your friends, coworkers, or family.

For instance, if you get a PDF of a contract you need to sign or you need to go over someone else’s work you can simply open it up within Mail. From there you can make any annotations or markings that are necessary and send it right back to the person who sent it to you. This can be extremely handy if you are the type of person who needs to sign everything during work or even in your personal life. You just need to open the file up and tap the Markup button.

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough on how you can do this.

Add Signiture

Signature Added

Share Signed Document

Please note, this kind of Markup is available on the stock Mail app. There may be some 3rd party apps you can find that offer something similar to this, but if you plan on using this feature a lot, we suggest you use Apple’s Mail app.

5. Mind-Mapping

Speaking of getting things out of your head and on to the page, mind-mapping is a very handy exercise for new projects you are working on.

From new personal projects to a new client at work, you can really improve your thinking process on what is necessary to accomplish your goals with a simple mind-map. This allows you to get everything out of your head and on to something you can have in front of you to determine what is important and what isn’t.

If you can’t think of anything right now to mind-map maybe just try this technique from Jenny Blake on setting goals for yourself across all of the aspects in your life. It is never too early to start thinking about what you want to do in the next year, and mind-mapping it can be cathartic.


So whether it is to provide tech-support, handle files sent to you at work, or even higher-level thinking like setting goals for yourself, the Apple Pencil is a powerful tool you can use to help you get things done. If you have an Apple Pencil with your iPad Pro and feel like you aren’t getting your moneys-worth, try one or two of these things out today and see if it helps you.

Did we miss something you can use the Apple Pencil for without any artistic talent? Let us know in the comments below!