iPad Note Taking Apps & Stylus – Problems Writing on the iPad Screen


I’ve been spending more time recently with apps for taking notes on the iPad. Specifically, a few that support handwriting. You can use a finger to take notes but a stylus is highly recommended. All these apps employ some sort of wrist or palm protection when making handwritten notes with a stylus. When you write on paper, you typically rest your writing hand on the page. You do the same when you write on the iPad screen using a stylus. This wrist protection feature blocks the iPad from interpreting your resting hand as input and causing stray marks on the screen where your hand touches.

I quickly discovered my stylus would not work properly. That is, no matter how I configured the wrist or palm protection, I had trouble. Sometimes nothing would appear when I was writing. I moved the stylus across the screen but it remained blank. Other times, only portions of words or phrases would appear. The screen occasionally shuddered or jumped about.

The problem wasn’t the stylus (I tried three). The apps were popular note taking apps with many positive reviews. The solution was to change two iPad settings. If you experience any of the problems described above while attempting to use a note taking app, check the settings described below. Either one can cause problems when writing on the iPad screen.

The wrist protection feature of note taking apps may be affected by two different settings. The first is the setting for multitasking gestures.
Go to Settings > General > Multitasking Gestures
Set this to OFF

The other iPad setting is probably one you’ve rarely used. This is a setting to help those who are visually impaired. The Zoom feature allows you to magnify the iPad screen.
Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Zoom
Be sure this is set to OFF

I keep the Zoom feature ON all the time on my iPad, but for a different reason. I’ll explain why in an upcoming post.


About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, has over twenty-five years experience in educational technology, including teaching, administration and professional development. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. Andy now runs a professional development business, working on site and online to help others make sense and make use of digital tools. He started the iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale. His iPad Academy helps others become more comfortable and competent with the iPad, in person and online through a video training series. Video Message from Andy