I have been using the Apple Pencil for a little over 6 months now and I must say, it’s a nifty little device that makes your iPad experience all the more fun.
The Apple Pencil caught the attention of millions of iPad users around the world and has grown to be one of the most popular must-haves for iPad’s. If you’re an iPad user looking to upgrade your overall experience, then I’d suggest you get out there and get yourself one of these pencils.
They don’t cost that much and they offer pixel-perfect precision which is great if you’re an artist or a designer.
As of 2021, the Apple Pencil 1st and 2nd Gen are compatible with all the iPad models (more on that later). If you’re someone who wants to understand how the Apple Pencil works then you’re at the right place.
I’m going to break down the differences between the first and second generation Apple Pencils and explain how they work along with some troubleshooting tips, in case you face issues later on.
So without further ado, let’s begin!
How To Use An Apple Pencil?
Apple designed the Pencil to be like a regular pencil, it has the shape, the feel and works like a pencil (just don’t try sharpening it).
They might look like a cylindrical tube with a tip on one end, but under their hood is some serious tech. I’m talking about stuff like pressure and tilt sensors, their battery, the chip-set running the device and so on.
Over the years, the only difference you can notice between the first and second generation is a slight change to the design and that the second gen supports a different charging mechanism.
Let me take you through everything related to how you can use an Apple Pencil.
Connect the Apple Pencil to Your iPad
In order to use the Apple Pencil with your iPad, you must first pair the Pencil with the iPad. There are two ways to go about doing so, depending on the model of Apple Pencil you own.
How to pair the first-generation Apple Pencil
- Start by unlocking the iPad (make sure the iPad is charged)
- Now, take the Apple Pencil (1st Gen.) and pop the cap that’s situated near the metal band. This will reveal the lightning plug. This plug can be used to charge the Pencil.
- Once you have plugged in the Pencil to the iPad, you’d receive a pop-up asking you to pair devices. Tap on “Pair” to complete the process.
How to pair the second-generation Apple Pencil to iPad Pro
- Start by unlocking the iPad. (make sure the iPad is charged)
- Now, tilt the iPad horizontally with the wider side at the top. Place the Apple Pencil on the magnetic strip of the iPad.
- Once the Pencil is attached, a pairing request will pop-up on the iPad. Follow the instructions to connect the Apple Pencil and iPad. Tap on “Pair” to complete the process.
Charging Your Apple Pencil
Apple Pencils are designed to be easy to use, they’re wireless and don’t require a plug-point or cables to be charged. The 1st Generation Apple Pencil carried a plug-n-charge mechanism where you could either charge it via the iPad itself or by using a lightning cable.
However, with the second generation Pencil things changed. Now, you can charge the Apple Pencil using the iPad itself but the major difference here is that it relies on a magnetic strip that’s available on the iPad Pro models. This strip wirelessly transfers current to the Pencil and acts as a wireless charger.
How to charge the first-generation Apple Pencil using your iPad Pro
With the 1st generation Pencil, it can be charged in either one of two ways. Firstly, the device comes with a removable cap which houses the lightning plug, this enables you to connect the Pencil with the iPad via the lightning port, thus charging the device.
The second method is by using a lightning adapter which will allow you to connect the Pencil with an iPad wall charger.
How to charge the second-generation Apple Pencil
This literally does not take much and is by far the easiest to charge as there’s only one way you can do so. Simply run the Pencil over the wider side of the iPad until you find the position of the magnetic strip. Place it on the magnetic strip to charge and slide it off when done.
This Pencil comes with Apple’s Quick Charge technology which lets you use the Pencil for around 30 minutes from a single 15 second charge.
Tip: In order to prolong the lifespan of the battery within the Apple Pencil, charge the Pencil for a minimum of 15 minutes whenever the battery is below 20%.
Checking the Battery Life of the Apple Pencil
As the Apple Pencil is meant to be extremely minimal and sleek, it comes with no battery indicator. Instead, you will be able to check the battery life of the Pencil via the iPad. Again, there’s a slight difference between the 1st generation and second generation Apple Pencil.
Let me show you how you can check the battery life for your Apple Pencil.
Apple Pencil (1st Gen.)
- First make sure the Pencil is paired with the iPad, the swipe down to invoke the Notification Center.
- Swipe right on the Notification Center to view the available “Widgets”.
- Tap on “Batteries” to view the battery life of the iPad and Apple Pencil.
Apple Pencil (2nd Gen.)
With the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil you can either follow the instructions listed for the older model or you can simply place the Pencil on the magnetic strip. Once placed a notification pop-up will appear on the screen informing you about the current battery life and percentage left.
Now that you have understood the basics, it’s time to learn how to use an Apple Pencil with your iPad or iPad Pro
How to un-pair your Apple Pencil from your iPad
The Apple Pencil is designed in such a way that if you happen to pair it with a new iPad then it will automatically disconnect from the iPad it was connected to earlier. If needed, you can even manually un-pair your Apple Pencil from the iPad.
- Start by launching the Settings App from your iPad’s Home screen and tap on the option Bluetooth.
- If you look toward the right hand side of the connected Apple Pencil’s name under Bluetooth Settings, you will be able to find the info button (i). Tap on it.
- Now tap on Forget to disconnect the Apple Pencil from the iPad.
If you made a mistake and would like to re-pair the Pencil, if it is the first-generation Apple pencil then simply plug it back into the iPad’s Lightning port and if it’s the second-generation Apple pencil, place it on the magnetic strip of the iPad Pro.
Understanding Your Apple Pencil
With the Apple Pencil, you don’t have to worry about much. There’s no special menu or any kind of pre-pairing process that must be followed in order to use the Apple Pencil.
Once the Pencil has been paired with the iPad it is ready to be used with that particular iPad at any given time. You can draw, write, navigate the apps or sketch on the iPad with ease. All you have to do is simply place the nib of the Pencil on the screen of the iPad and begin.
Unlike other styluses, the Apple Pencil does not come with an eraser nib. Whatever has to be done will be carried out on the Pencil itself. You can either use the Pencil’s white nib on the 1st generation model or the white nib/double tap on the flat side of the second generation Pencil to erase content.
The Apple Pencil is a pretty smart device with in-built features such as pressure and tilt sensitivity. This means that you can get thicker lines by pressing harder on the screen or you can tilt the Pencil to begin shading.
The thing about the Apple Pencil is that it’s designed to pull off almost any task that you would normally use your fingers to do. Drawing, handwriting, calligraphy are all possible with the Apple Pencil irrespective of the model you buy.
How to Change Functions on the Second-Generation Apple Pencil
Compared to the first generation Pencil, the newer model comes with an added benefit: the double tap feature on the side of the Pencil. This button can be configured to something of your choice depending on the application you’re using.
Some app developers assign different actions to the double tap function for their apps, so you can customize it however you see fit.
While you’re able to navigate through the applications and the OS with the Apple Pencil, you will not be able to pull off advanced gestures (multi-finger navigation). However, in certain apps like Notes, you can place two fingers simultaneously on the screen to form a ruler and by using the Pencil, you can draw straight lines.
Troubleshooting the Apple Pencil
The Apple Pencil is one accessory that works so well that it hardly faces issues. This doesn’t mean that it’s never going to fail. As with any electronic device, your Apple Pencil can stop working for a number of reasons. You can follow these instructions in case you ever face any issue with your Pencil in the future.
- Loose Nib – The nib on the Pencil is known to become loose over time and when this happens the connectivity between the Pencil and display of your iPad drop. You will lose your accuracy until you change the nib. Typically, Apple Pencils come with a spare nib when they’re bought so you’ll have to search for the box to have it replaced.
- Low Battery – Forgetting to charge your Apple Pencil is a commonly faced problem. If you think that the battery in the Pencil has died, plug it in or place it on the magnetic strip to charge the device. Remember to charge it for a minimum of 15-20 minutes if the battery is dead.
- Re-Pair the Apple Pencil – The Pencil can be disconnected from the iPad and re-paired. Doing so resets the system and re-calibrates the Apple Pencil. You can reconnect the Pencil even at times when you’re facing Bluetooth connectivity issues while using the Apple Pencil.
- Finally, Reboot the iPad – If all else fails then the problem might lie within the iPad itself. A quick reboot will clear this issue and resolve you of your problems.
Apple Pencil (1st Gen, 2nd Gen) Compatible Devices
In general talk, the Apple Pencil is compatible with all iPad models. But there’s a major difference depending on the version of the Apple Pencil you are going to buy.
You can decide whether you must buy the Apple Pencil first generation or the second generation based on the model of iPad you own.
Take a look below:
|Apple Pencil||Compatible iPad Models|
|Apple Pencil (1st Generation)||iPad Air (3rd Gen); |
iPad mini (5th Gen);
iPad (6th Gen);
10.2-inch iPad (7th Gen);
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd Gen);
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st Gen);
iPad Pro 10.5-inch;
iPad Pro 9.7-inch
|Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)||iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd Gen); |
iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th Gen);
iPad Pro 11-inch (1st Gen);
iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd Gen)
The Apple Pencil is a fun tool to use with capabilities that make you want to keep using it all the time. It’s always good to understand how the device works and see if it’s exactly what you’re looking for before buying it.
Now that you know how to use an Apple Pencil, I hope you have a wonderful experience. Remember to take it slow, don’t apply too much pressure and keep the Pencil charged at all times to prolong the battery life.
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Daniel Moore is the Founder & Editor-in-chief of Private-Spy, an experienced hacker, lecturer and an all-round fun guy! A writer by day and reader by night, he holds a Master’s degree in Computer applications and believes that privacy is our god given right. Daniel has been known to have published in-depth guides and tutorials that have been used by millions of people across the world.