Discussion of Freeform

I recently have been trying to figure out how to use this as a reminder/to do for my reports I have to write for work. I watched this video and it helped me a little. Thought it was a good video so I’m sharing it.

How does everyone else use Freeform?


I am so glad you mentioned it but I cannot find it.

Great video, thanks for posting!

I have tried FreeForm several times now, but it’s impossible to use.

I want to:

  • Change the properties of an object after it is created. Eg create rounded corners, resize with measurements, change line colors etc etc. I simple rightclick and “Edit…” would be enough. Or a pallette giving the same thing.
  • Connect items with lines, that follow the objects when you draw one of them (think Mindmapping).
  • Use layers.
  • And so on and so forth…

All in all: Too little control. Definitely “Freeforming” but not so much use when you don’t have control over what you do.

Maybe I have missed something, and if that’s so, Apple have created an app where these simple things are too hard to find.

Please note that this is for the Mac App, maybe it’s different with a pen on the iPad. And my use is to create rectangles, lines, texts etc.

Have I missed anything?

The bezier line (blue dot on each end and green dot in the middle will connect its ends to any object you like and then moves with them)

All objects are in the same 3D space (ready for Vision Pro, I guess) so there are no separate layers, but you can move objects forward and back.

You can change many properties of an object (resize it, reposition it, colour, fill etc.) but not what that object fundamentally is (e.g. change a circle into a rounded corner square or a star) On my Mac, you can set snapping and constraints for resizing objects by dragging.

It’s not Adobe Illustrator and not meant to be, but you can get work done.

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I have found it useful for rough brainstorming an idea with more freedom (no pun intended) than a typical mind mapping program. I particularly like doing this using the Apple Pencil on the iPad. For example, I was sketching an idea for a graphic to illustrate the strategic plan I’d been developing. I created the rough graphic shown in the first picture below. I handed it to the Marketing and Communications department, who made it usable (second picture).

I could have used other programs, but the infinite canvas enabled me to create several versions of this before I passed it off to Marketing and Communications.


Bumping this thread, because I am interested to know if people have settled into using Freeform and if so what you using it for?

Due to the recent updates to GoodNotes, I am considering moving some of my notes out of there, and I’ve realised that a large blank canvas was probably a better place for some of my notebooks anyway, so I’m now considering Freeform instead.

Being not 100% awake this morning and maybe with a little “language barrier” add-on implemented in my brain, my first reaction was: “Wow, that is an amazing Freeform feature to make something so nice out of your thoughtful hand-written draft!” Then, reality sunk in, my brain started working again (nice work by the department :slight_smile: )… :wink:

That’s funny! Perhaps Apple could integrate AI into Freeform. Then, I could have AI generate the graphic rather than the M&C department. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Do you hand write your notes or type? One thing to be aware of is that Freeform does not index handwritten notes or text within inserted objects like pdfs or images. It does a great job of indexing any text you type in. This can be searched from the app Home Screen to find boards with text. Once in a board you have to search again to find instances of the text.

I’d hoped to use Freeform with one of my clients to help manage various projects but he’s pretty stuck-in with using email and Messages so that never happened.

How I’ve been using it:

  • Document a recent project (fixing, stabilizing a gravel road) - laying out photos of the project with text descriptions of what’s going on.
  • Planning, organizing longer blog posts
  • As a scrap book for a few different interests.

Also I’d recently got to thinking about Freeform as a sort of improvised form of micro, semi-private, collaborative social space for shared interests? I’m thinking of a social media that’s spatial rather than time-line based. Imagine hanging out in a coffee shop rather than standing by the side of a road as information just flows by.

Are there any such online gathering spaces that are a spatial experience rather than a timeline/feed experience?

Blog post about it here which includes my email at the end if anyone is interested in joining an experimental board I set-up. Just one other person thus far.

I’ve started using Freeform again when I use my iPad, which is still somewhat rare. I find it useful for sketching wireframes and ideating. It is not a serious tool for any sort of creative intent, which I sense is a complaint for some, but it’s also not meant to do that. For what it is — a giant whiteboard that also has a Mac app with easy screensharing — I find it fairly usable.

When it first came out, it really lagged when you used the Apple Pencil in Freeform on an iPad. Now that lag is greatly reduced or gone altogether, so I can wholeheartedly recommend the app for folks who have simple sketching needs.

I use my iPad and Pencil extensively with Apple Notes. Is Freeform better than Apple Notes for pure pencil based sketching? I guess the whole zoom thing is an improvement, but I’m not sure it’s worth the cognitive trade-off of having the document inside a different app.

Is there a way to combine Freeform with Notes? It would be great to have a note with links to a Freeform form (is it called a form/canvas/document?).

I got my wife a new (last of the Intel-line) iMac recently and transferred her old stuff across, but then upgraded to Ventura, which killed the MS Office version she’d had for ages. I told her at the time she could use Pages or various other tools. She doesn’t really do much with anything but Word.

Anyway, she asked me the other day where Word had gone (:roll_eyes:) and I asked her what she thought she needed it for? Long story short, she wanted to print a complicated address label for a package and ended up using “that thing with a squiggle”. It would not have been my first choice for such a task, but she managed it unaided!


They called boards. No easy way to link. You can share a board and just copy the iCloud link and paste into Notes. I do think they make good companion apps… for that matter, really, all of the Apple apps at this point just work well to compliment one another. But Freeform (along with other infinite canvas apps) is certainly a different way to go about things. As someone who’s always been text oriented it requires me to think a bit differently and I’m really enjoying that.

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I am a single user on a Mac and I love this application. It lets me sketch things out with its “tools” which is of great help to me because I have no artistic talents.

It has a pretty good library of “objects” - animals, food etc. I find use for these in other projects that I deal with primarily using Affinity Designer. I can import these “object” into Affinity Designer and not worry about copyright issues.


Is it possible to share a board with other people and work on it simultaneously?

Yes, but they have to have an Apple ID (and the app, I assume??).

Outside of work sharing I’m not certain how to use this functionality yet (although I do wonder whether it might be fun for some online gaming. Pictionary anyone??).