Pencil workflows

I just received my new Apple Pencil (gen 2, for the M1 iPad Pro) and I’m curious as to how others incorporated this accessory into their workflows.

Scribble, I get, although my writing is so bad that I’m not sure how well it will work. At first blush I’m finding it hard to use for sketching because the contact with the screen is so slippery.


I tried two or three note apps and settled on GoodNotes using the Pencil. I also use it with DayOne.

I love using the pencil to annotate .PDFs, and am contemplating moving away from .PDF Expert.

Bought a first gen pencil when it came out, honestly it sits in its sleeve in my iPad pro case and never get used. Looks good though. I tried to integrate it into a workflow but failed miserably.

I was never really interested in a Pencil. I figured it was one of those pricey accessories that looked nice but that I would never really use. I had a third-party stylus I used for sketch-notes in Concepts, but I’m no visual artist, so I figured that was all I’d need.

When I got my M1 iPad (from eBay), it came with a Pencil included, which I of course then tried to make more use of. As many of the posts thus far have noted, I find the Pencil serves me well when marking up PDFs. I also use it now for sketch-notes in Defter (; I still appreciate Concepts’ infinite canvas, range of tools and deeper customisation, but I find Defter makes it easier to manage workspaces and supporting references (PDFs, linked notes).

To this day, I haven’t made much use of Scribble. I think I’ll have to make a concerted effort to use it before it becomes part of what I do, and I suspect I’d get more out of it on the Mini 6.

In short: I’m not sure I would have gone out of my way to acquire a Pencil, but I’m certainly happy to have one.

I use the Pencil to annotate PDFs, Pages (the Smart annotation feature in Pages is excellent), and Word documents (for example, I’ll make final notations to speech notes), sketch out ideas, e.g., a diagram idea for a Keynote slide, and occasionally take meeting notes (I type most of them), to jot down a quick phone number (tapping on the iPad screen automatically opens an Apple Note), and I use Scribble when brainstorming in MindNode–it works well for this purpose. I use the Pencil most days at least once.

I’m experimenting with LiquidText. So far I’m pleased, but with a big caveat. I’ve been trying to open a 950-page PDF for my book research (MANUAL FOR COURTS-MARTIAL UNITED STATES) in LiquidText to no avail. PDFExpert, on the other hand, opened it immediately.

Do you use Apple Notes as well?

That was pretty much my experience as well. The 2nd generation Pencil is a lot handier - it’s right there with your iPad and it’s always charged. The case I got for my iPad has a slot for the Pencil so I decided to give it another try.

I too settled on Good Notes, but have reverted to paper and pen for quick scribbles. I use a keyboard for proper note taking.

The pencil is great for artistic expression though. I mostly use it in Affinity Designer, and also dabble about in Procreate a bit.

I do, but not with the pencil. I use apple notes in part because I can take quick notes on my phone about important things to do with taking care of my mom’s health.

ETA: Apple notes is for things I need or want access to on my phone, Goodnotes for spur of the moment notes with the Apple Pencil, later edited and moved elsewhere for actual use in writing.

I bought the Apple Pencil primarily for ease of annotating .PDFs on my iPad. I’ve also been using it quite a bit on my iPad with Photos.

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Hardly use Apple Pencil. Reverted back to physical pen and paper. Rather take heavy duty notes with keyboard than pencil.

I use it several times a day. I use it in GoodNotes and the handwriting recog. is the best I’ve ever see nwith my scribbles. I use a combination of cursive, print and weird abbreviations. GoodNotes get about 90+ % accurate, impressive given the source material.

I use it to annotate PDF’s using PDF Exper.t I am using it to annotate e-books using some SW I am exploring that may replace the kindle reading app for me. I am using it to annotate web clipping also in the same reading app and I use it to create cartoons and drawings using procreate on occasion. I am slowly working my way through acouple of drawing text books and instead of pencile I am using the iPad and my Apple pencil and so far doing great.

The solution to the slippery screen is an appropriate screen protector. The one I got I can’t remmeber what it is but it was recommended here and I got it soon after I got my iPad so sometime in 2020. I’ll try to find it later…

found it the Moshi Best Screen protector

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What kind of stuff do you write in GoodNotes?

I use my pencil and GoodNotes about once a month to take notes at the meeting of a community board that I’m active on. This is the only time that I use the Pencil and GoodNotes, and I’m kind of impressed that they are so intuitive that I don’t forget how to use them from one meeting to the next! It really works just like pencil and paper.

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I use GN and the pencil all day. I take notes during meetings, brain dumps and the like.
I hope apple develops scribble further

Just today I updated the grazing map to show that I moved the ewes and ewe lambs to fresh grass and that the adult rams got to go into the pear orchard. I scribbled some potential designs for a database table refactoring that I am starting with the contacts table. I took notes on a video I watched on some python programming techniques.

I’m reading a book on database refactoring because I’m starting that process with version 3 of the AnimalTrakker database. Some issues have arisen in practice that the schema does not handle well. I highlighted a few key concepts using the pencil, added some of my own notes and before I was done reading the chapter they were in my Obsidian vault ready for me to link into the area where they can be used.

And it’s just now lunch, not sure what I might use it for this afternoon.

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This thread makes it as if the Pencil is completely useless. But that’s faaaar from the truth.

If you don’t need handwriting/drawing for your jobs or hobbies, then of course it’s not going to be useful to replace keyboards. You wouldn’t buy an actual pencil and then complain it’s useless, right?

It’s essential to many workflows for students, artists, and researchers needing to do maths by hand. I can see there aren’t many of them here.

For what it is worth, nearly all of our students, including those in the most advanced AP, Honors, and dual-credit math and other STEM courses, routinely use the Apple Pencil for working out equations. It works like a charm and they can then send a copy of their work directly to the instructor.

I have nerve issues with my writing hand and it was never an issue. I like that it is still accurate in recognizing my handwriting. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with using Scribble.

I use my Pencil on annotating PDFs, editing photos and videos. Whenever I want to screenshot something, it’s automatic for me to reach out for the Pencil. I also use it heavily on Affinity Designer (switching constantly from Mac and iPad version).

I’m a designer, so the Pencil is godsend for us.

IMHO, I wouldn’t say that this thread paints the Pencil as completely useless, just not instantly indispensable to everyone who’s bought one. There’ll always be people who’ll purchase an accessory but find they don’t use it in the way they may have hoped or expected. Although we haven’t heard so much from people who might use a Pencil as part of their everyday essential work, I think there’s a mix of responses thus far, with a few people who’ve tried it out and found it doesn’t work for them, but a number of others making reference the Pencil’s utility in PDF and image annotation…