You Can Now Handwrite and Draw in OneNote for iPad

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Office with 0 Comments

Microsoft today announced one of the most eagerly-anticipated features for OneNote for iPad: The ability to handwrite notes and draw with a stylus in the popular mobile app. But don’t worry if you’re not using OneNote on an iPad: Microsoft is also adding OCR capabilities to OneNote on all platforms: Windows, Mac, the web, and on mobile.

Handwriting in OneNote for iPad

To be very clear: Handwriting in OneNote for iPad is not the full digital ink experience. That capability is only available on Windows, where the innate capabilities of Microsoft’s top platform provide not just the ability to scribble in your own handwriting, but also important functionality—like pressure sensitivity, erasers, and more—that makes handwriting more natural. On the iPad, all you can do is use a capacitive stylus to perform basic handwriting and drawing.


(OneNote for Android picked up handwriting capabilities months ago, in August 2014, but some Android devices support active digitizers, so the experience is much better.)

But handwriting and drawing with a stylus in OneNote still a fairly transformative experience, and one that is more natural than typing on a tablet like the iPad. And it supports palm rejection technology, so you can indeed write naturally, whether you’re right- or left-handed.


Here’s a video showing off handwriting and drawing in OneNote for iPad.

OCR in OneNote

In addition to adding handwriting support to OneNote for iPad, Microsoft also updated OneNote on PCs (desktop and Modern), Mac, web (OneNote Online) and on all mobile platforms to support optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. What this means is that you can now search OneNote and it will search the text found within images too.


According to Microsoft, OneNote recognizes printed text in many languages, and support for more languages is coming.

In a related note, Microsoft says that “OneDrive for Business support and the ability to search images from your older notes” will arrive “in the coming months” as well.

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