Apple Pencil Needs an Eraser and Swipe Gestures for Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo [Update]

Apple Pencil

Apple should update the Apple Pencil. I’ve been using it as of late and enjoy it with the iPad Pro, but it needs a few things to make it a lot more useful. Basically, we need to add an eraser, copy, paste, undo and redo to this thing. Here’s a simple demo of how it might work.

For copy we could add a swipe gesture. Single tap and then drag your finger upwards along the flat pencil edge. Then for cut, we could repeat that gesture twice, i.e., conveying: “I really want to get this selection off the page.” Then the reverse of copy for the paste gesture: single tap, and then push your finger downwards towards the pencil point.

For undo, a double tap and swipe up. For redo, double tap and push down.

For the eraser, Apple needs to cave and make the back of the pencil behave like an eraser so you can flip it around, and use the back end to erase.  Maybe texture the back of the Apple Pencil a bit to feel different when you use it on an iPad.  Perhaps this could also double as a broad brush in some apps. But the standard behavior should be an eraser just like in the real world.

Then leave single tap and double tap gestures as-is (to be application assignable).

I know this would make my work flow worlds more productive. What do you think? Register your votes or comments below, or better yet, vote in this Twitter poll we posted.

UPDATE: This article was updated changing the cut gesture from a triple click to doing the copy gesture twice instead.

10 thoughts on “Apple Pencil Needs an Eraser and Swipe Gestures for Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo [Update]

  • Another good gesture would be “squeeze the pencil” would begin dictation and text can pour out from the pencil tip onto the page where you have the pencil.

  • Are You out of your freaking mind, John? Were you on the Apple Remote design team?
    I’d never be able to get this pencil you describe near the screen without it messing up my whiteboard, turning the lights off, locking the doors and putting the iPad into a state that needs a factory reset to recover!

    …So nice to hear you again, John. I’m your biggest fan. You’re an island of don’t-hold-back-tell-me-what-you-really-think in a sea of others making excuses for Apple’s every head-scratching decision.


    What’s wrong with tap an object to get a pop-up menu (cut, copy, paste, move, or anything else)? That’s how the Ferrites of this world manage it.

    iOS and macOS are so riddled with hidden gestures and swipes that you can’t touch the things without creating a situation that takes 10 moves to fix.

    As you’ve has often taught us – Apple needs someone to say NO to a lot more ideas. The disciplined and thoughtful Apple of myth is long gone now, to the point I’m losing interest in tech! I don’t look forward to using my phone or mac anymore!

    Apple’s execs are useless now. They don’t trust their instincts, think they’re out of touch in all the wrong ways, and the anything-goes world of windows/android coders has taken over the asylum. Instead of requiring 2 years coding macOS, to learn the discipline and principles of thoughtful interface guidelines before coding for iOS, Apple just let new coders loose to ‘see what they can come up with’ and probably bleat that they’d never get anyone to work for us if they had to code Mac first. Is Apple not the biggest company in the world? Do they not get to tell employees what’s expected of them? Apple University should just disband if it doesn’t teach about the products – you know the things that come first. If you don’t teach your new employees the culture before you let them code, you’re being negligent to the future of the company.

    There isn’t room for the ‘iOS is a phone OS for people who don’t want a computer, not a computer replacement’ or ‘if Apple hadn’t denied macOS touch and pencil support to boost iPad sales or we’d point with Pencil and execute commands with the keyboard, like any professional application’ arguments here.

    My next phone (if there is one) will be a Mini. It’s just not worth paying that sort of money for Apple products anymore. That should boost Mini sales!

    Great to hear from you again, John. You redeemed yourself in the podcast, just not over the pencil gestures. ); (that’s how the woke people do it now isn’t it? my ¢50 worth)

    1. Hey grant, so great to hear from you! I hear your point and it’s a good one. To add to your point, try this. Resize a column in the finder with the option key down. It will resize all columns to be that new size from then on. How could you possibly learn how to set that setting with absolutely no UI clue? You can’t. It used to be a setting in preferences in the NeXT workspace (finder equivalent). Now it’s a “use the force” feature.

      So yea, when more than half the UI includes hidden conjuring, adding more hidden stuff is adding to the misery. That said, Apple could add a pencil gestures preference panel to show these things. A bit like they do for the trackpad and mouse, showing a little video next to enabling each feature. My other defense is, I implore you, try to use the Apple Pencil for a real white boarding project where you work up data and logic flows, and I bet you’ll be on your knees praying for copy, paste, undo and redo. Or perhaps you won’t, but it knee’d me hard trying to get some actual work with the pencil and having to constantly pause and paw around the screen just to get an undo.

      So this is one of those instances where good and fair minded folks can want something different. Your point is super valid, but I’d Be lying my pants off if I denied I’d give my **obscenity deleted*** for undo on the Apple Pencil! 😜

    1. Great podcast, and you redeemed yourself in style, going off about other topics… except this one. Good to hear from you again. You’re still the best Apple commentator, despite this minor slip. );

  • This is an excellent idea John. Unfortunately my own handwriting is horrible so typing is my preferred means of writing but I know many who would love this.

  • This is an excellent idea John. Unfortunately my own handwriting is horrible so typing is my preferred means of writing but I know mayn who would love this.

    1. Lee, there is already a touch sensitive area towards the tip with the Pencil 2. So this would be a function of making that area recognize swipe gestures. Currently it recognizes a double tap.

      Also been thinking about it, and perhaps a better gesture for cut would be to do the tap and pull copy gesture twice. So you’re kind of saying, I REALLY want to pull this selection off the page.

      1. I do not yet have a Pencil 2. I still have some life in my older model iPad Pro and Pencil 1.

        “Hey Siri, copy highlighted text”

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