How to Use the Freeform App on iPhone and iPad

Apple has introduced a brand new app called Freeform with iOS 16.2, and it works on all your Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The company describes the app as a collaborative whiteboard tool that allows you to brainstorm ideas with your colleagues or group project members in real time. And not just brainstorm ideas, but you can also sketch images or create mood boards with a flexible canvas. So if you’re wondering what Freeform on iPhone is and how to use the app, you’ve come to the right place. This post covers everything you need to know about using Freeform on iPhone.

What is Freeform on iPhone?

Like the iOS 17 Journal app, Freeform is a productivity app with a lot of creative potential. It’s a great place to bring ideas to life. You can plan projects, brainstorm ideas or create mood boards so you never run out of space to express your thoughts. The app It allows you to add photos, video, audio, documents, PDFs, web links and stickersand more everywhere on an infinite canvas.

Many of the tools such as brushes, shapes and others in Freeform will be familiar to anyone who uses the iWork apps like Keynote or Notes. It’s also easy to collaborate with your colleagues’ teammates and group project members in real time, as Freeform allows you to share the drawing board with SharePlay via messaging or FaceTime.

And since Freeform boards are stored on iCloud, you can sync them across devices signed in with the same Apple ID. Here’s how you can start creating a new board on your iPhone and easily finish it on your iPad.

Create a new board in the Freeform app

  • Open the Freeform app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
  • Now, tap the pencil icon present at the top of your screen and a new board screen will appear.
create a new board

Things you can do with the Freeform app on iPhone and iPad

Here are the different tools you can use with the Freeform app on your iPhone and iPad:

1. Insert shapes

Apple’s Freeform app offers numerous pre-designed clip art shapes available in multiple categories: Basic, Geometry, Objects, Animals, Food, Nature, Symbols, Education, Art, Science, People, Places, Activities, Transportation , Work and ornaments.

You can stack multiple shapes by stacking them on top of each other, and it doesn’t end here. You can even change the shape color, draw over it, resize it with drag and drop, take apart its component parts, manipulate the design, and add borders. There are many tools for working with shapes for your projects. You can group the shapes, adjust the opacity and much more.

shapes in the Freeform app iPhone

2. Insert images, scans and documents

In the Freeform app on your iPhone you can add different types of documents to the whiteboard. The app makes it possible add photos and videos instantly from the Photos app. Once you’ve added a photo or video to your project, you can drag and drop to resize it, crop it, view it in full, or even layer it with a different image or shape.

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You can scan documents in color or black and white with your iPhone’s camera, or add documents to the Freeform app directly from your iCloud drive or via a link from Safari. The links and files you add appear as small tiles and can be rearranged across the whiteboard using the same gestures you use with shapes and images.

images in freeform app iPhone

3. Sticky notes

Just like sticky notes that we use in the physical world to remember things, you can add digitally sticky notes called Stickies to your project. These Stickies available in the Freeform app are the same as the Stickies we have been using on our Macs for a long time. Once you add Sticky to your whiteboard, you can add text to it and even change its color by choosing one of the seven available choices.

Sticky notes

On an iPad you can use the Apple Pencil to write directly on the sticky, but on an iPhone you have to type. Various formatting options are also available, such as bold, bulleted lists, different font sizes, and more.

4. Text insertion

You can add one text box anywhere on your Freeform canvas, then add as long or short text as you like. In addition, the app also offers all possible standard formatting options, including but not limited to changing the font, color, size and alignment, and adding styles such as bold and underline.

Freeform text app iPhone

5. Drawing tools

If you’re familiar with the markup tool on your iPhone or iPad, then using the drawing tools in the Freeform app is a breeze, as both offer the same set of drawing tools. There are pens, markers and colored pencils to choose from, all with adjustable opacity, color and line thickness. You can use your fingers to draw on your iPhone, and with your fingers or an Apple Pencil on an iPad.

drawing tools in freeform app iPhone

6. Color palette

The Freeform app offers users tons of color options. These colors can be added by choosing a simple color from a grid, choosing a color from a spectrum interface, using sliders, or even manually typing the hexadecimal color code for a specific hue.

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To make things a little easier, the app allows you to save your favorite color at the bottom of the interface. To add more color functionality, you can even adjust the opacity of the color.

coloring in freeform app iPad

7. Object movement

While it’s already clear that you can move any object, image, or file you’ve added to the board using drag-and-drop with your fingers or Apple Pencil, many other moves are hidden from view. To access it, simply tap on the added object and a new pop-up interface will appear with a list of options.

You can lock and duplicate the objects you’ve added, and you can even constrain or unproportion them, which is useful if you want to change one dimension and not the other.

Remark: To use Apple Pencil in the Freeform app on iPad, you must first enable the Select & Scroll switch in the Freeform app settings.

freeform app settings iPad

8. Save, print and share

While the board you created is automatically uploaded to your iCloud drive, you can save the board to apps like Files and Dropbox. In addition, the app offers you the option to save the board as a PDF or even print it out. You can also email, text, or share links to boards to invite collaboration.

save board to freeform app

9. Multiple boards

Although the Freeform app offers an infinite whiteboard, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for just one board at all. You can have multiple Freeform boards, which you can view as icons or in a list, and sort them in different ways, such as by name or date. Groups are available to organize many boards, and there are also separate sections for Recent, Shared, and Favorites.

sort boards in the freeform app

Creative ways to use Apple’s Freeform app

Now that you know how to make a board and what to add to it, it’s time to learn about the different creative ways you can use the Freeform app on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Here are a few creative things you can use the Freeform app in your daily life:

1. Brainstorm ideas

Brainstorming is something everyone should use the Freeform app for. As we explained earlier, you can use the Apple Pencil to write down your most immediate thoughts so you can easily remember them later. Make your ideas visually appealing by adding stickies, shapes, images and more, and connect them all according to your preference.

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Like the Freeform board is not limited by bordersyou don’t have to worry about space; you can easily zoom out on the board to reveal more empty space.

2. Create a mood board

This is the most creative way you can use the Freeform app on your iPad. As described above, you can add as many images and videos to your board by making them important from the Photos app. If you are an iPad user, you can open the Photos app in split screen on iPad with the Freeform app and drag & drop images with your finger or Apple Pencil.

mood board in freeform app

You could argue that you would use Freeform to create Mood Boards if there are N number of third party apps available on the App Store for the same thing, but for power users like me, using the built-in app that does the same as other dedicated third party apps is much easier.

3. Show off your drawing skills

The Freeform app is for everyone, from people who like to write down their thoughts to people who like to draw instead of the hassle of typing their ideas. And if you use an Apple Pencil, you can use the Freeform app’s canvas to show off your sketching talents. The app lets you change the color, stroke, highlighter and more to bring your creativity to life on the go.

freeform sketching app

4. Collaborate in real time

As Apple says, the Freeform app is designed as a collaboration tool, although you can share created boards with other iPhone, iPad, or Mac users. Once the invitation is accepted, all participants can collaborate on the same board and add images, text, links and more for group brainstorming sessions. Any changes made by participants to the whiteboard are synced in real time for all users.

How to use the Freeform app on iPhone and iPad

That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the Freeform app on your iPhone and iPad. Remember, the ideas we shared are just some ideas for getting started with Freeform. The possibilities are endless. So tell us in the comments how you’ll use the Freeform app to increase your productivity.

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