Use Pencil by FiftyThree with Microsoft OneNote

Note: This article has done its job, and will be retiring soon. To prevent "Page not found" woes, we're removing links we know about. If you've created links to this page, please remove them, and together we'll keep the web connected.

Microsoft OneNote can be paired with Pencil by FiftyThree, a digital stylus that lets you draw, sketch, or handwrite notes in OneNote on your iPad.

Before you begin

For best results, do the following before using Pencil with OneNote on your iPad:

  • Fully charge Pencil before first use. Remove the writing tip, slide out the built-in battery pack, and then plug it into any standard USB port. Pencil’s battery pack charges to full in under 90 minutes and you typically won’t need to recharge it again for about a month with normal use. For more information, see Charging Pencil.

  • Update your iPad operating system to the latest version. On your iPad, tap Settings > General > Software Update, and then install any updates that may be available. For more information about keeping your iPad up to date, see Update the iOS software on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

  • Verify that Bluetooth is enabled. On your iPad, tap Settings > Bluetooth, and then make sure the Bluetooth switch is turned on. Pencil needs Bluetooth to communicate with your iPad.

  • Update OneNote to the latest version. On your iPad, tap the App Store app, tap Updates in the lower right corner, and then install any available OneNote updates that may be available. If you haven’t yet installed OneNote on your iPad, you can download it here for free.

Pair Pencil with your iPad

Pairing lets you connect your iPad to a device or accessory like Pencil over a Bluetooth connection. While pairing is typically done in the Settings app, you can pair Pencil directly in OneNote.

Follow these steps:

  1. On your iPad, tap to launch the OneNote app.

  2. Tap the Draw tab, and then tap the Drawing Mode icon.

  3. On the menu that appears, tap Pencil by FiftyThree.

  4. Pick up your Pencil stylus and press its tip against the black pairing spot.

    Keep pressing while the pairing icon spins until you see the green Connected confirmation message.

  5. Tap the Drawing Mode icon again or tap anywhere outside of the menu to return to the page.

  6. To begin drawing or writing in OneNote, first tap any of the pen options (pen, color, stroke thickness) that are shown on the Draw tab, and then move the Pencil stylus tip over the page.

Draw or write with Pencil

Once Pencil is paired with OneNote, you can start writing or drawing with it on any page in OneNote. The tools on the Draw tab let you switch between pens, colors, stroke thickness, and other useful features. Here’s a list of how-to topics to help you get started with drawing in OneNote:

Troubleshooting Pencil

If Pencil doesn’t appear to be working right for any reason, do the following:

  1. In OneNote, tap the Draw tab, and then tap the Drawing Mode icon.

  2. On the menu that appears, tap Pencil by FiftyThree.

  3. At the bottom of the menu, tap Get Support.

    You can also visit the Pencil by FiftyThree Support site directly in your browser.


This feature is currently not available when using Microsoft OneNote on iPhone.

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.