Tips & tricks for PDF, Photos Markup in iPadOS 15

Ever wanted to share quick thoughts on a picture or poem with a friend? Nothing complicated, just a few sentences noting a few suggestions? Here’s how you can do that (with Markup) on the iPad.


Screenshots are the easiest way to share instructions with your not-so-techy loved ones. You might be trying to explain how they can add words to their dictionary in Nebo. All you have to do is take a screenshot and add simple instructions for them. Markup has all the tools you get in Apple Notes and more. You can even add:

  • Handwritten notes
  • Shapes and arrows
  • Description
  • Text
  • Signature

Once you are done, you can send the screenshot and you don’t have to save it on your device. This is one of the best things about sharing feedback with Markup. You can send copies that you can immediately delete if you don’t need them. It will simplify your workflow.


In Photos, you access Markup when editing a photo. Photos have similar tools to those you get for screenshots. You can Markup an image and share it. You can even do this in Messages, before sending an image. It would be great if we could Markup photos sent to us without needing to save and send them back. We hope to get those capabilities in future updates.

Third-party apps

When exporting PDFs from an app, you have a Markup option. For example, in LiquidText (PDF reader) I have to share these notes with Uncle Dan. I will ask him to check for grammar and spelling errors then send it to him on Messages. If I don’t want a copy of this, I can Delete PDF. But if I wanted to keep a copy, Save File To saves it to Files.


In Books, Markup is available only for PDFs you have imported into the app. It won’t work for PDFs you download from the Book Store. You get more features in Markup for PDF reading and these are similar in Books, Apple Notes and Files. Which app will work best for you, really depends on your flow. There are a few advantages of using one over the other.

Apple Notes

Apple Notes uses Markup for PDF reading. The app saves the PDF in your notes (as attachments) and opens them in a separate window to read and annotate them. You don’t actually need to bring a PDF into Apple Notes or Books to annotate it on the iPad because you can do that in the Files app. Especially when you want to share feedback, it’s simpler and faster to do it in Files.

Files app

Files can annotate both PDFs and photos. The setup in the app allows you to quickly navigate through different documents, which is handy. Here are some Markup features you get for PDFs only:

  • Hyperlinks ease your navigation through long documents. You can skip pages, which saves time. The trick is knowing where the hyperlinks are in your PDF. It does not recognise outlines in documents though, something we hope to get in the future.
  • Interact with the text in your PDF to:
    • Highlight with five colour options
    • Underline
    • Strikeout: there are no colour options for underline or strikeout.
    • Add comments
    • Copy, Select All, Look Up, Translate, Share
  • Interact with pages to:
    • Delete the page
    • Scan Pages to add them to your PDF. The scanned pages take long to load and their quality is terrible, sadly.
    • Insert from File to add photos to your PDF and Markup adds them as independent pages. You can’t import PDFs though. It would be better if we could.
    • Insert Blank Page to add a plain paper template between pages of your PDF. We hope in the future we’ll be able to change our paper templates.
    • Rotate Right/Left

We hope Apple can give us the ability to duplicate pages in Markup, or at least copy them for pasting.


In Safari, you can Markup web pages, which is great for research. For a better look, you want to make your article Show Reader View to remove ads and make the article look more like a PDF than a web page. Then you can Markup the PDF like you would any other PDF. When you’re done, you can save it to your iPad or share it.

If your PDF reading is simple, you might not need to buy a PDF reader. Before exploring third-party apps, we recommend trying native apps to see if they are not enough for your workflow. They might surprise you. Learn more about the apps mentioned in this article:

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