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Home / Tips and Tricks / Create perfect shapes in notes, drawings and annotations with the new shape recognition tool from iOS 14 «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Create perfect shapes in notes, drawings and annotations with the new shape recognition tool from iOS 14 «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



There are a number of drawing tools on iPhone that have long been used to create handwritten notes and sketches. It’s great when you need a freeform method to capture your ideas and now it’s even better. Apple added shape recognition in iOS 14 so you can now draw geometrically perfect shapes using finger doodles.

The new drawing tool not only converts basic shapes like squares, circles and triangles, but also other shapes like hearts, stars and arrows. These shapes can help tidy up messy hand-drawn sketches and make notes better communicate your ideas. Because these tools are part of the drawing tools built into iOS, they can be used by both Apple and third-party apps.

Apps that work with shape recognition

You can try the new shape recognition in Notes, Mail, and the Screenshot Editor, which provide instant access to the markup tools. You can also use markup to annotate images, PDFs, and other documents in apps like books, files, email, messages, notes, photos, and Safari.

If a third-party drawing or note-taking app used the PencilKit framework and added iOS 1

4 support, shape recognition should work in the custom drawing tools as well. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to work in Apple Pages yet.

The old way of making shapes in markup

The old way of creating perfect shapes was to tap the plus sign (+) on the markup toolbar and then select either the square, circle, comment box, or arrow. From there you can change the color and line width. You can also fill them out for these first three forms. You can also use the arrow to switch to a regular straight line.

However, not all markup views have this plus sign (+) on the toolbar, as when sketching drawings in Notes. This is where shape recognition comes into play. However, these older shape tools are built into most markup views and can still be used if you need more than one basic shape outline.

Use shape recognition in markup

First, in a markup view in Apple’s Apps and Services, or in a third-party app that supports this feature, do the following:

  1. Access the drawing tools.
  2. Choose the pen, highlighter, or pencil.
  3. Draw your shape at the size and angle you want.
  4. At the end, pause for a moment until the shape clicks into place.

Markup tries to keep the new perfectly formed shape in position, size and angle like the original drawing. If it’s not in the right place, you can use the selection tool to move it around. However, you’ll have to delete it and try again if the size or angle is wrong. If you want to keep the original hand-drawn shape, tap the Undo button to reset it.

Available shapes that can be recognized

The shape recognition tool recognizes a wide variety of shapes, including complex shapes. Note that the ellipse for the ellipse shape is plural, not the punctuation mark for the ellipse (•••).

  • Sheets
  • Bows with arrowheads
  • Circles
  • Clouds
  • solid lines with 90 degree bends
  • Ellipses
  • Heart
  • Hexagons (but mine turn into pentagons)
  • Lines
  • Lines with arrowheads
  • outlined arrows
  • Pentagons
  • Rectangles
  • Speech bubbles
  • Stars (drawn either with an outline or a crossed line)
  • Squares
  • Triangles (including right, isosceles, equilateral, and free)

The new Shape Tool is a great way to add flair to your handwritten notes and sketches to make your notes a little more notable.

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Cover image, screenshots and GIFs by Mike Goril / Gadget Hacks

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