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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

MyScript Stylus: Handwriting on iPad, with a catch

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

GIF of MyScript Stylus

I’ve never liked writing things by hand. My handwriting has always been terrible,and the moment I could switch from writing to typing for school assignments, I did.

But if the joy of putting pen to paper never left you, and you dislike having to type all your thoughts on an iPad software keyboard, you might want to check out the free MyScript Stylus “keyboard” extension for iOS. It replaces the keyboard area with a blank writing area, ready to be used by your finger or a stylus or, better yet, an Apple Pencil.

When you pause in writing (most likely because you’ve reached the end of the line), Stylus slides your writing over to the left, allowing you to continue as if you were dropping down a line on a piece of paper. Eventually your digital ink is transformed into text, but it’s still editable—you can swipe backward with two fingers to see previous words you’ve written and edit or correct them with gestures.

Software keyboards are hardly a panacea. Some people use them effectively, others begrudgingly. It would seem that writing in longhand on an iPad would be a bad productivity move, but for some people it might actually be a more comfortable experience. And I really do believe that writing style can change dramatically when you take it slow.

With all that said, I don’t think I can recommend MyScript Stylus today. That’s mostly because some of its shortcut buttons—including the delete key—are located at the very bottom of the screen, and are too easily triggered by a stray touch of your palm when you’re writing. I started writing this article on my iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil—the things I do for you people!—and twice I lost whole paragraphs when the keyboard seemingly interpreted some stray touch of my hand as a signal to press the delete key hundreds of times. I watched as whole paragraphs, painstakingly handcrafted, vanished from view.

If MyScript can figure out a way to move that stuff out of the way, though, I think this keyboard extension will have some serious appeal for the Apple Pencil crowd.

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