How to use Smart Annotations on iPad

Apple’s Pages have a handy feature called “Smart Annotation” that lets you switch between a strictly formatted document and simple annotations. All you need is an iPad and ideally an Apple Pencil.

Annotating on an iPad can be fluid and natural. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk/Pexels)

You can go paperless and still mark up documents freehand. However, to take full advantage of Apple’s hardware, you need to know how best to use the software.

How to add and remove a smart annotation

To create a smart annotation, first open a document in Pages on your iPad. Tap the three dots menu button in the top-right corner, then tap Smart note.

Where can I find Smart Annotation in Pages?

There are several different tools to choose from here, but what you’re looking for is the annotation tool on the far right. When you select it, you will be prompted to “add annotations to text with a highlighter or pen”.

Tap the tool again to choose between them or adjust the line thickness. You can also choose the color to the right of the tool.

Selection and customization of the annotation tool.

Now you can highlight, circle or underline words. You can do this with your finger, but of course an Apple Pencil provides more precision. When you’re ready to return to word processing, tap Completed top left.

Exit Smart Annotation and return to typing in Pages by tapping Done.

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To remove a smart annotation, just tap on it and select Extinguish.

How to hide or export

To toggle between showing and hiding Smart Annotations, go to show options in the top left, then tap Hide smart annotations.

Switch between hiding and showing your smart annotations.

You can turn the option on or off when exporting your Pages document to a PDF file contain intelligent annotations to choose whether they appear in the output. Note that this setting has no effect on drawings.

Choose whether smart annotations are displayed in the exported PDF file.

Other formats like DOCX don’t support smart annotations, so don’t expect your markups to appear in Microsoft Word.

Support on other Apple devices

Smart annotations appear in Pages on a Mac, but you can’t create or edit them here. You can edit them on iOS, but they can only be created on iPadOS.

Smart annotations aren’t present in other apps like Keynote or Numbers, so they remain a Pages-exclusive feature, albeit a very welcome feature for paperless workers who take notes in the Apple ecosystem.

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