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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's upcoming iPadOS 14 update has many of the same features that are available in iOS 14, but there are a handful of functions that are designed specifically for the larger display and the Apple Pencil, such as Scribble.

Scribble is one of the most notable new features in iPadOS 14, and we checked it out in our latest YouTube video. With Scribble, you can use an Apple Pencil to write in any text field on the iPad, with the written text then converted to typed text.

The functionality lets you use the Apple Pencil throughout the operating system without having to swap over to a keyboard when you need to compose an email, write a Calendar event, visit a URL, send an iMessage, or conduct a search. You can, for example, go to Safari and write in, and it'll convert to the proper URL so you can get to the site.

Scribble is decent at recognizing all kinds of handwriting, even when it's messy, but it does not work well with cursive. It interprets capitals and proper spacing, so once you get the hang of handwriting in text fields, it's a fairly seamless experience.

If you make a mistake when you're writing something, you can just scribble it out with the Apple Pencil and it deletes, which is a handy feature. If you need to select text, you can just circle it.

Scribble works in any text field as mentioned, but it's also been built into the Notes app. Just tap on the toolbar and select the pen that has the little "A" on it. This tool will convert all your handwritten text in notes to typed text.

To go along with Scribble, there are a few other useful tools. Smart Selection lets you select all of your handwritten text as if it was typed text, and if you copy it and paste it into an app that doesn't support handwriting, it will be converted into typed text.

You can also select handwritten text and paste it into other notes, or make changes to the style and the color of the written text. Handwritten phone numbers, links, addresses, and more also turn into clickable links like they do when typed. So if you write out a phone number, you can tap it to call it because the iPad is able to detect the numbers and convert them on the fly.

With a Shape Recognition tool, if you clumsily draw a standard shape like a circle or a star, iPadOS 14 will recognize the shape you're trying to make and convert it into a perfect version, which is useful for note taking and diagrams.

With iPadOS 14, the iPad can be used almost entirely with touch and tools, and there's little need to type. If you're someone who prefers writing by hand, iPadOS 14 introduces tools that enhance the experience.

What do you think of Scribble and the other features in iPadOS 14? Let us know in the comments, and for more on iPadOS 14, make sure to check out our roundup.

Article Link: Hands-On With the New Scribble Feature in iPadOS 14


macrumors 65816
Jan 5, 2007
Brisbane, Australia
Over the years I have used dedicated handwriting note apps like Nebo, and also handwriting conversion keyboards like Selvy Penscript. The shape recognition is very similar.
in fact this looks very much like Selvy Penscript in performance which works as a keyboard option, but the text appears in the relevant text field rather the keyboard window.
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macrumors regular
Nov 11, 2018
Cool, I've been doing it for ages in my surface Pro, but this looks good cool and probably a more seamless integration.

I quite like the fact that the iPadOS implementation seems to allow you to write anywhere; I also use the Microsoft implementation and its sometimes annoying that the keyboard bar is still needed when your "handwriting" an input


macrumors 604
May 17, 2008
I think it would be helpful they add a button on the pencil to invoke the keyboard. Press the button, type with the keyboard, press button, keyboard gone.

Apple Freak

macrumors regular
May 22, 2009
I have had a 10.5" iPad Pro for over two years now and have hesitated to get an Apple Pencil because my handwriting is pretty bad (not illegible, but pretty close). If Scribble works this well in practical use I might have to reconsider that.
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macrumors newbie
Mar 29, 2010
Yep, it does. In fact, it works in pretty much any text field in the system, even in third-party apps.

There is no mention in the video of third-party apps. Does it work in all of them? For example, in Adobe's apps, such as Illustrator? Or in Microsoft Word?

The detail that I don't quite grasp is that it "works in any text field." Does this mean that anytime the keyboard appears, the Apple pencil appears as an option? Or is it just an option in contexts where the toolset that includes the pen tool with the "A" on it appears, as demonstrated in the video? If the latter, isn't this limiting?
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