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Getting started with Apple's Freeform app

Week 280.0 — 6th March '23

Ever since I got my hands on my iPad Mini, I've tested out a load of mind mapping and note taking apps. I've settled on Apple's own Notes app as my primary note taking service and really enjoy using the fountain pen style for taking notes. I find it to be much more readable and being able to reorder the options would make the world of difference to me. In a hurry, it's easy to forget to swipe.

Apple announced and then recently launched their own software for this type of note taking, called Freeform. I didn't take to it at first, but gave it another go this week as I needed something a bit more fluid.

Freeform app example

There were however a few issues I hope to see ironed out:

  • Syncing takes a long time. Same could be said of the Notes app, but felt unreasonably long for the Freeform app.
  • I haven't got to grips with the scaling of the canvas. It's infinite, but 10% is as far as you go so if you strayed from 100% before starting, then I found it made the canvas feel limited.
  • The pencil tools are different to the Notes app. The 'crayon' option felt like the most usable for writing notes. I do not like the 'crayon' option.
  • It's excellent at aligning elements, but not always great at alignments when scaling. If you're trying to make two items match in size... good luck. Hit and miss for me.
  • It needs a better way to select groups of items. I drew a many-to-many relationship with text and arrow elements. Apart from long tapping on the first item and selecting others with a tap, there's no way to just draw a box around things to select them.

Despite all of the above, I found it's actually pretty good and well worth giving it a try. Apple even have some handy guides, like their one for getting started.

As I get to grips with it a bit more, I'll look at sharing some of my Freeform boards.


I've just discovered that there is a 'Select Objects' option when you tap on the canvas so you can do that and then tap the items without having to hold a finger down. I didn't notice it before because I was always using the menu to paste items in so never looked further than that option.

Still cumbersome, but better than the first way I found to multi-select.

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