How to Markup, Write, & Draw on Photos with iPhone or iPad

Feb 13, 2017 - 28 Comments

How to markup photos on iPhone or iPad

The excellent Markup ability in iOS allows iPhone and iPad users to write, draw, and markup on any photo or picture stored on their device. This offers a nice way to highlight or emphasize something on an image, and while it can be used for fun it’s equally as useful for professional users as well to annotate images.

Markup is a fantastic feature but it’s tucked away behind a nondescript button option in the photos editing features of iOS, so many users can overlook the markup ability without ever knowing it exists. If you don’t find the ability using the instructions below, you likely need to update iOS to a newer version.

How to Markup Photos in iOS

The Markup ability exists in Photos app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, here’s how you can access and use this great feature:

  1. Open the Photos app and choose the picture you want to markup, draw, or write onto
  2. Tap the photo again to reveal the toolbars, and then tap the Edit toolbar button (it looks like three sliders now, it used to say “Edit”)
  3. Tap the Edit button to markup a photo

  4. Now tap the “(•••)” button to show additional editing options
  5. Tap the extras button to markup a photo

  6. Choose “Markup” from the additional editing options
  7. Tap the Markup button to markup a photo

  8. Use the markup tools to draw, write, emphasize, and scribble on the photo using the available options:
    • Drawing (the pen icon) – draw with your finger using any of the colors shown on screen, you can also adjust the thickness of the lines
    • Emphasize (the magnifying glass over a letter icon) – emphasize or magnify a portion of the picture
    • Write text (the T text icon) – place text on the picture and type using the regular iOS keyboard
    • Colors – choose which color to use
    • Undo (the reverse arrow icon) – undo the prior markup

    The Markup photos tool options in iOS

  9. When finished, tap on the “Done” button to finish marking up and drawing on the photo
  10. Tap “Done” again to complete editing the picture and save the changes to the picture
  11. Tap Done to save the markup edits

Once you have marked up a photo you can use your scribble, modifications, drawings, or whatever other masterpiece you have created like any other picture on an iOS device. This means you can send the marked up photo, post it to social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, email it to someone, embed in a notes app, or whatever else you want to do with it.

If you don’t see the markup ability, be sure you have updated to the latest version of iOS available. The feature was introduced natively into the Photos app in iOS after the 10.0 release and thus will not exist in prior versions. Mac users will find a similar Markup feature in Mail for Mac, and of course can use Preview app to add text or annotations to images.

The Markup and photo editing features on iOS are numerous, the same editing panel section allows you to adjust light and color of photos, rotate, straighten, crop, remove red eye, digitally sign documents in iOS from Mail app, and much more.

Know of any great uses or tricks for the Photos Markup feature in iOS? Let us know in the comments!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. GIANNELLA says:

    I’ve been able to draw on my pictures and save them. All of a sudden I get a message that reads ‘Unable to save changes. An error occurred while saving. Please try again later’. Does anyone know why? Thanks.

  2. J Gray says:

    Hi, im wondering why my photos go from say over 2MB to like 400kb after i markup? I need them to be large files for printing. Is it possible for them not to shrink after i markup? Im a noob, thanks very much for any info :)

  3. RA XA says:

    Hey Paul,
    This Tip I didn’t know before, only in Notes-but now I can driving directly on photos, it looks pretty and amazing-thanks for great tips!
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend and take care 😉
    Friendly greetings from 🇷🇺

  4. Lori says:

    To add text with changed font size… choose a photo. Click edit. Click the circle with three little dots inside. Click Mark Up. Click More. Click text. The word Text inside a box with blue dots on each side will appear on your picture. You can drag the box where you want it. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a small capital A and a large capital A. Click this and use slider to adjust the size of your font. After your done typing message, you can expand or contract the message using the blue dotted box and two fingers. Click done. Now you can send it any way you want!

  5. Cassie says:

    Hi, I have an iPad Pro and I know how to add Text to my photos, but how do you change the SIZE of the text?

    I can’t find a way of changing it at all.

  6. Cor says:

    On a iPAD with IOS 11.3 I can find the text function and the magnifying glass. But typing does not produce letters, not after any step in the procedure. The iPad guide manual says nothing about how to enter texts in photo’s.

    • gsd says:

      You have to tap the little “T” thing in the toolbar (its a button but doesnt look like a button, like everything else) that is what allows you to enter and type text onto a photo

  7. Brian says:

    Text annotations can be added easily on my wife’s iPad (iOS 10.3). Sometimes you can rotate such text using two fingers, but whether this achieves anything or not seems to be completely random. Does anyone know the secret of control?

    Another issue: tapping the screen sometimes leads to a coloured dot or line being added when that is not the intention. Again, does anyone know the trick for stopping this happening at all?

    [clearly, from all the comments here, iOS’s photo markup is an unusually frustrating application!]

  8. chris says:

    I mark up fine but the markups are gone when transferring the photos to the laptop. why?

  9. Laura T. says:

    If I markup a photo will it also be marked in other folders within the app that have the same photo? Is there any way to either make a shortcut so that I don’t have to make so many clicks to get to marking up the photo OR turn from one photo to another without having to click in and out of editing?? Thanks in advance for any help with these questions.

  10. Johnny Michaels says:

    After editing a photo, employing the magnifier, I cannot figure out how to remove the mangnification circles. Any advice would be greatly appreciateld. Thanks.

  11. Claude Lalonde says:

    Writing with fingers is cumbersome. Are there styluses that can be used with iPhone 6?

  12. Rosemary says:

    How can I write on my photos on my ipad mini please? I can do it on my iphone but can’t see all the symbols on my ipad mini. Thanks.

  13. Mike says:

    How can you change type size and duplicate type for over lay in different colors :::::: LIKE THE PREVIOUS PROGRAM. Thank you— Mike

  14. Wayne Robinson says:

    I tried to add an arrow in markup on iPhone with iOS 10.

    The mark up tool allows me to draw a line, but I see nowhere the ability to make that line and arrow.

  15. KP-Kilpew says:

    What I would love is the option of doing magnifications without the circular border. Like having round spots zoomed in and selecting for them to be sans physical border, ya know?

  16. Nicolae LAZĂR says:

    David – Bernie – Beth => to open/seen the keyboard you have to double click on the text field.

  17. David says:

    I have exactly the same problem as Beth and Bernie!

  18. Beth says:

    How do I access the iOS keyboard when using the Text tool? Thanks.

    • Bernie says:

      I have the same question as Beth. All worked well until that point. I’d rather type on the photo instead of writing with my finger.

  19. Rod Dalitz says:

    What I *really* want is a way of making notes, photo description, which is shared between iOS and OSX, without marking the photo.

  20. arn says:

    What I find perplexing is that any markups you do to a picture do not export (easily) out of the iOS/mac photo ecosphere. Like, if you use lightroom (or other non-apple photo apps) to store/edit pictures, when you import marked up pictures from your phone into lightroom, the markups aren’t here. There are various workarounds for this, but it’s still a pita.

  21. ARC says:

    This is a great feature that is hidden. I used it recently and had to google how to find it. Thanks for this article that I can share.

  22. Ria Smit says:

    My Photos in iPad do not have all the symbols above the photos that you show, and when I tried to update software, it told me that my software is up to date.
    Is this trick related to your location or ISP? For me it is not available.

    • luis says:

      Try opening one of your photos in the photos app. On ipad, the white bar with icons shown in the first picture above will be at the top of your screen (not the bottom as shown there, because the screenshot shown is from an iphone); if you don’t see it, just tap on the photo again and it will appear. Towards the right, look for the editing icon next to the delete (trash can) icon. Once you tap on it you should see the other screens shown above. Note that the editing features are only available in iOS 9 or later, which some older ipads don’t support. To see what version you have, go to settings>general>about.

      It’s also worth noting that in addition to mail for mac, markup is also available in the iOS mail app, not mentioned in the article.

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site