10 Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10 [2018 Edition]

10 Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

  • May 2, 2018

The pen is the new frontier. Microsoft has made it a point, pun always intended, to put touch front and center in Windows 10. Along with voice, it is an excellent new way to interact with these devices.

Of course, touch input is nowhere near to take over from the tried and test combination of keyboard and mouse that Windows-based hardware have been using for decades. But a pen or stylus opens up a new possibility for input on these devices —, particularly for content creation.

We have put together a list of our favorite apps that are pen-enabled for Windows Ink.

Pen is mightier than the keyboard

Before we get down to the business of listing these applications, it merits a mention that the developers optimize these Windows 10 applications for use with a pen or a stylus. Almost all apps available in the Microsoft Store are touch-enabled, but only a few are natively optimized for pens.

Windows Ink Workspace

Part of that is because Microsoft only added the Windows Ink feature to the operating system very recently. This new addition is a highlight of its Surface line, and the company is working towards enabling an entire ecosystem of pen-friendly programs.

Center of this revolution is the Surface Pen, which inserts an extra layer of productivity that does not exist on a traditional desktop or laptop. To foster things along, the company also built and designed several pen friendly features in its software to inspire other developers to innovate.

The Power of Touch

We’ll be taking a look at 10 of the best pen friendly applications that are available to owners and users of Windows-powered devices that take stylus input. These devices including Surface hardware like the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, and Surface Studio, as well as other machines from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more.

Before that, though, it is essential to highlight the apps Microsoft has created for this.

Needless to say, if you’re a Windows 10 user that uses a stylus of a pen, the following Microsoft applications are an absolute must-have. That’s because not only do these showcase the best abilities of the Windows Ink platform but all of the open up new possibilities for pen-based input.

The Microsoft Office apps, for example, not only work great here, but they also come with advanced text recognition capabilities that are excellent for students. You probably are familiar with OneNote, but inking now extends beyond that, to applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, even Outlook.

Office Pen Support

Of course, the Windows Ink Workspace offers several smart tools built right into the Anniversary Update of Windows 10. We list three applications here, Sticky Notes, Sketchpad, and Screen Sketch, all of them handy for pen users.

Not to be outdone is Fresh Paint, which has been a mainstay of touch on the Windows platform. It works better with a pen and stylus and offers users an effortlessly easy way to draw and create art on their Windows 10 device.

Paint 3D App

And then there’s the latest addition, Paint 3D. This fun little app allows you to use your pen to create illustrations that come alive. You can construct 3D objects, throw in stickers, and easily share your designs with others, right from within the application.

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The Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

#No

Name

Category

Rating

Download

Review

1

Scrble

Productivity

2

Autodesk Sketchbook

Entertainment

3

Nebo

Productivity

4

Index Cards

Productivity

5

StaffPad

Music

6

Xodo

Productivity

7

Zen

Entertainment

8

Sketchable

Entertainment

9

Fluid Math

Education

10

The New York Times Crossword

Entertainment

Let’s get down to business. Whether you want to sketch out illustrations, sign documents on the fly, or quickly jot down notes, these pen friendly apps indeed open the door to enhanced productivity. There’s something for everyone here, from the occasional doodler to the aspiring artist, and in between.

Put your stylus to work with this arsenal of pen friendly applications:

Scrble

This free-form notepad is great for both writing and illustrations and offers a range of background options like lined-paper, blackboard, whiteboard, math sheet, and a music sheet. These paper options are excellent for different needs and add to the appeal of this app.

Scrble - Top Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

An application like this thrives on its pen input. Happy to report that the pen input is very responsive, and taking notes on this is a pleasant experience. You get infinitely long pages and multiple sets of ink and highlighter colors. There’s also the ability to add photos and shapes, along with PDF export.

Category

Rating

Price

Productivity

Free, $3.99


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Autodesk Sketchbook

It would have taken a company like Autodesk to create an app like this, and they have delivered. It is a professional level drawing program, one of the best of its kind on the Microsoft Store. It is ideal for both amateurs and professionals, those who need something more advanced than Fresh Paint.

Autodesk Sketchpad - Best Pen Friendly Apps

Autodesk Sketchbook comes with a sturdy brush engine, including over 140 preset brushes, and you can even create custom ones. Inking is about as fluid and smooth as it gets on this one, and the makers design its UI in such a way that canvas always stays in the spotlight. Excellent.

Category

Rating

Price

Entertainment

Free, $30 per year


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Nebo

As simple and streamlined as its name, Nebo is a note-taking app designed specifically for Windows 10 and the Surface Pen. And you get the idea the first time you start using it. It provides easy access to all your notes, and you can open the documents you create on your web browser, email, even Word.

Nebo - Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

As for the documents themselves, you can create interactive math equations and diagrams just as quickly as titles, paragraphs, and bulleted lists. Using a pen in the app is a responsively rich experience. The developers call Nebo the best way to take notes. It’s a claim that is hard to deny.

Category

Rating

Price

Productivity

Free, $2.99


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Index Cards

An app that does what it says on the tin! Index Cards lets you take notes just like real index cards. You can interact with the notes using your hands, pen, mouse, and keyboard. You can draw, write, or type on the front and back of the cards. Or zoom in, place your notes in stacks, and share them.

Index Cards - Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

All said and done; something is mesmerizing about having your notes laid out in front. A quick and handy way to keep everything organized. The free version offers a basic set of tools, while the pro version brings forth a search and tag function, along with the ability to change font size.

Category

Rating

Price

Productivity

Free


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StaffPad

One of the most expensive apps on the Microsoft Store, StaffPad is a music application that Microsoft showed off onstage at one of its events — it’s that good. Designed for pen use, this app makes it incredibly easy to annotate music.

Staffpad - Top Pen Friendly Apps

You handwrite your music, and the app automatically and accurately converts it into an engraved score. Once you are finished writing, StaffPad can play back your creation with its virtual orchestra. If you’re happy with the results, you can print your music or share it as an MP3. Impressive.

Category

Rating

Price

Music

$69.99


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Xodo

Xodo is a PDF reader and editor, one of the best of its kind on the Microsoft Store. It’s free, for starters, with no ads or purchase required. Surprising, considering all that you are getting here. Its interface may be a little clunky, but that’s the only complain you will have.

Xodo - Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

Open up a PDF document in this app, and you can do anything with it. Write all over it with your pen, highlight the significant bits, and save them as a new file. The latest update allows you to open Word and PowerPoint files as PDF, and real-time collaboration is also available with Xodo Connect.

Category

Rating

Price

Productivity

Free


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Zen

If you’re into coloring books for adults, then this is the app to get. Even if you are not, then this app is still worth getting. The free version provides a vast collection of images that you can transform, with a little magic from your accurate small stylus.

Zen - Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

Paying the charge for the full version opens up the veritable floodgate of images that you can color with your pen on your Windows 10 device. The engaging experience will have you relaxed in no time. There are a few other coloring apps on the Microsoft Store, but this one is top of the table.

Category

Rating

Price

Entertainment

Free


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Sketchable

Sketchable is another app designed with the Surface Pen in mind, and this easy to use application works without any problem with any pen worth its salt. You can use this app to take notes, or create illuminating works of art, thanks to the wide variety of tools on offer here.

Sketchable - Top Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

The UI is clean and stays out of the way, while still providing enough options and features to give serious artists real freedom of expression. There are plenty of brushes and drawing aids, along with a layering system, two different blending modes, and support for all screen sizes and resolutions, including 4K.

Category

Rating

Price

Entertainment

Free


Fluid Math

Although a little on the pricey side, Fluid Math is worth it for students that want to take their math education to the next level. The app works great with a pen and can detect the numbers, symbols, operators, and variables that you draw with your hand — with reasonable accuracy.

Fluid Math - Best Pen Friendly Apps for Windows 10

It can then solve expressions, and create graphs instantly. The canvas, though infinite, can be resized as needed. While students also have the option to toggle between modes for annotations or writing math equations. A gift for students and teachers in middle and high schools.

Category

Rating

Price

Education

Free


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The New York Time Crossword

The New York Times Crossword has attained legend status over the years, and this app brings the experience to your Windows 10 device. This pen-enabled application lets you complete the puzzles just as you would with a regular pen and paper.

The New York Times Crossword - Top Pen Friendly Apps

You’ll need a subscription to the Times for full access to the puzzles, or the archive. But you do get a free mini puzzle daily, which is enough to keep things ticking along. The handwriting recognition in the app is entirely accurate, and the overall experience is one of a kind for fans of puzzle solving.

Category

Rating

Price

Entertainment

Free


About the Author Shawn Abraham

Shawn is a WindowsChimp Staff writer, who is a fan of making lists and does the same on this site. He has a Contemporary Writing degree and been in technology niche since last 3 years.

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