How to quickly and easily fix common Apple Pencil problems

By

Apple-Pencil-close-up
There's almost always an easy fix.
Photo: Daniel Korpai

Just like any other electronic gadget, Apple Pencil can sometimes experience issues that prevent it from working as intended. The good news is that it’s quick and easy to fix almost any Apple Pencil problem.

Try these simple tricks to eliminate connectivity issues, stuttering and more when your Apple Pencil starts acting up.

Fix Apple Pencil problems

You may have noticed there is no reset button on Apple Pencil, and no removable battery. So, you can’t just restart your stylus when it’s not working properly … unless you wait for its battery to die.

Luckily, restarting your stylus probably isn’t necessary. Instead, use the fixes below. They will work with both first- and second-generation Apple Pencils.

Plug in for power

In most cases, Apple Pencil stops working as intended because its battery is low or completely out of juice. So, the first thing to do when you run into Apple Pencil problems is ensure your stylus is charged.

You can keep an eye on Pencil battery levels by using the Battery widget in Notification Center. If your stylus doesn’t appear there, wait for it to charge up a little bit, then look for it again.

If you use a first-generation Apple Pencil, charge it by removing the cover from the back end of the stylus, exposing the Lighting connector. Plug that into your iPad. If you own an Apple Pencil 2, place it on the charging port built into your iPad.

Check your Apple Pencil tip

If your Pencil appears to be connected fine, but it’s not performing properly, it may be that its tip has become loose. Ensure it is tightly secured by firmly pinching the tip and turning clockwise. You also might want to try swapping the tip for a new one.

Restart your iPad

Sometimes, it’s not your Apple Pencil that’s acting up — it’s your iPad. If you’re still running into problems after your Pencil is charged, try restarting your tablet. You can do this the usual way by holding down iPad’s power button, then swiping the slider that appears on the screen. Or you can perform a “hard reset” by following the steps below:

Hard reset an iPad with Touch ID

  1. Hold down the power button and Home button simultaneously.
  2. Release both buttons when the Apple logo appears.

Hard reset an iPad with Face ID

  1. Press and release the volume up button.
  2. Press and release the volume down button.
  3. Press and hold the power button.
  4. Release the button when the Apple logo appears.

Re-pair Apple Pencil

If none of the above tricks fix your Apple Pencil issues, the final step is to re-pair your device. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad and tap Bluetooth.
  2. Find Apple Pencil in the connected devices list and tap the blue info button alongside its name.
  3. Tap Forget This Device and then confirm by tapping OK.
  4. Re-pair your Apple Pencil either by plugging it into your iPad (first-generation models) or by placing it on iPad Pro’s charging strip (second-generation models).

Use the right Apple Pencil version

If the Apple Pencil is new (or new to you) and it won’t work with your iPad, that could be because it’s incompatible. There are two models, and each works with one group of iPads but not the other. Or, if you have an older iPad, it might not be compatible with any Apple stylus.

The original Apple Pencil debuted in 2015, and it works with some basic iPad and iPad mini models, as well as older iPad Pro versions. In 2018, the second-gen Apple Pencil came out, and it works with iPad Pro models made since that time, as well as the latest iPad Air and iPad mini.

Here are the specifics when it comes to Apple Pencil compatibility:

  • Apple Pencil: iPad (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th generation), iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini
    (5th generation), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation), iPad Pro 10.5-inch, iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • Apple Pencil 2: iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation), iPad Air (4th generation) and iPad mini (6th generation)

A quick tip: If your iPad has a USB-C port instead of Lightning, it can only use Apple Pencil 2. Look for the stylus’ wireless charging port on the edge of the tablet.

Seek Apple’s help

If you’ve tried everything listed here and your Apple Pencil still isn’t working properly, it may have suffered a hardware failure of some kind. The only fix for that is to return it to Apple to be replaced (at-home repairs aren’t possible).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Genius Bars aren’t open in many Apple retail locations right now. However, you can get support through Apple’s website.

Note: Ed Hardy updated this article in January, 2021.