Can’t Draw with Finger on iPad? Here’s Why!

Mar 6, 2022 - 10 Comments

How to draw on iPad with a finger

If you’re an iPad, iPad Pro, or iPad Air user, and you are trying to draw with your finger on the iPad on Notes app (or elsewhere with Markup) but find that it’s not working, there’s a simple explanation and solution to this problem.

The reason you can’t draw on the iPad with a finger is due to a setting regarding Apple Pencil that is enabled by default on most iPads, sometimes even if an Apple Pencil is not used with the device or not currently connected with the device.

How to Enable Drawing with Finger on iPad

To allow you to draw with your fingers on iPad, you must toggle off a setting that sets the drawing ability

  1. Open “Settings” on the iPad
  2. Go to “Apple Pencil”
  3. Locate the switch for “Only Draw with Apple Pencil” and toggle this OFF
  4. Enable drawing with finger on iPad

  5. Now you can draw with your finger(s) on iPad, as well as Apple Pencil

Go ahead and launch the Notes app, Photos app, or anywhere else you can draw with Markup, and try drawing with your finger with Markup or the drawing tools, and you’ll find they work now as with a finger as expected.

How to Draw with Finger on iPad

Drawing with a finger on iPad is very similar to drawing with an Apple Pencil on iPad, except that you must first enter drawing mode when you’re just using your finger. Drawing mode is entered by tapping on the drawing tools icon, which looks like a little pencil tip with a circle around it.

Drawing tools button

Once you tap that you will access the drawing tools in Notes app (and Markup) and you’re able to draw with your finger.

How to draw on iPad with a finger

If you’re a heavy Apple Pencil user you may not want this setting to be disabled, because many Apple Pencil users will use their fingers to scroll around on the canvas as they draw with the pencil, and by turning off this setting the fingers will also draw on the screen rather than scroll around.

Ultimately, this setting, like so many other settings on iPad and iPadOS, is up to you and your use case, and how you use your device and it’s drawing functionalities. If you want to use both the Apple Pencil and fingers, or the ability to draw with fingers, toggle this setting and you’ll have that option.

Let us know in the comments if you have any particular experience with this setting, or the assumption that you can’t draw on the iPad with a finger in Notes, Photos, Mail, screenshots, Markup, or anywhere else, and if toggling this setting fixed that for you.


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


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  1. Hmm says:

    Ipad air 2 doesnt have this setting , i meed use my drawing

  2. Lesa says:

    I have tried all above recommendations as able on my ipad air 2 without success. As “No” stated, there is no such setting as Apple Pencil. The list goes:

    …Siri & Search
    Touch ID & Passcode

    My os is 15.7.7. Suggestions? Thanks.

  3. Melissa says:

    Nothing I do works…even when I disable the setting to only only draw with apple pencil…it still doesn’t work. My ipad is worthless if my pencil needs to be charged.

    • Paul says:

      The Apple Pencil must be charged in order to draw with the Apple Pencil, but you can use your fingers to draw on the iPad just by touching the iPad. Make sure the screen is clean too, sometimes grime on the screen can impact input.

  4. Lynne says:

    I turned on Scribble in the Pencil settings which then allowed me to make a text box in which I could type my note to add to my pdf. Not drawing w finger, but successfully put the note in 😊

  5. Not working says:

    Such setting doesn’t disable pen writing on my Ipad 9th gen. I can’t use notability or other apps at all only notes is working.

  6. Dude says:

    Really! I still can’t do it

  7. Memoria says:

    I followed all instructions and still cannot draw or write with my finger. I even turned my bluetooth off to not involve my keyboard. Nothing works.

  8. No says:

    No such setting exists

    • Paul says:

      As you can see in the screen shot, the setting exists. You must have an Apple Pencil to access Apple Pencil settings however.

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