What to do when your iPad Pro’s Apple Pencil stops working

The Pencil is mightier than the sword, if subject to pairing problems

Apple, iOS, iPad, iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, tablet, Bluetooth, tips
Felix Beinlich/Flickr

At its best, Apple Pencil and an iPad Pro can be best sketchbook for creative expression you’ve ever used, though some artists I’ve spoken with would like the Pencil to respond slightly differently to reflect the way different media behaved in the real world, eg. Oil paints act differently to charcoal. However, discussions like these are a moot point if your Pencil isn’t working, and unfortunately you do get problems keeping both devices in sync.

Here is what to do:

Is my Pencil working?


When it works, it’s great, but for some reason the Bluetooth pairing between your iPad Pro and your Apple Pencil isn’t quite as robust as you might like. If your iPad Pro restarts you may need to re-pair the Pencil, for example. Apple Pencil doesn’t hold onto power very long – in my experience I’ve usually had to charge it up after not using it for a few days.

Battery check

If you’ve previously paired your Pencil with your iPad and find the device is no longer working you should check the Battery section in the iPad’s Notifications view. If your Pencil is not visible there then it means the stylus is either out of power or needs to be paired once again.

Also read: 8 essential tips every iPad user needs

Power up

If the Pencil is not showing in Notifications Battery view you should connect your Pencil to your iPad Pro or use the included Apple Pencil Thunderbolt Adapter to charge the pencil up for ten minutes. Once you’ve done this check Notifications once again, if the Pencil now shows up you know it just needed recharging, if not you should move on to the next step.

Reboot iPad Pro

In order to reboot the Apple Pencil you should reboot the iPad Pro by turning it on and off. If this doesn’t work then you should do a hard reset of your iPad by depressing both the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons simultaneously for at least ten seconds, until the Apple logo appears.

Check the tip

The tip of the Apple Pencil wears out over time, and may fail to work once it needs replacing. This means the tip has been designed to be easy to remove because it may need to be replaced. To replace it you must gently unscrew it anticlockwise, but this could come lose in use. You must check, does the tip need to be tightened up? Does it need to be replaced, in which case Apple will sell you four replacement tips for an astonishing $19. Be careful not to damage the metal nib hidden beneath the tip.

Something in the Pair

Apple Pencil pairs with your iPad using Bluetooth. You can check if the device is connected to your iPad in Settings>Bluetooth>My Devices. If the Pencil does not appear in the DEVICES list, plug it into the Lightning port on your iPad Pro, leave it a few moments and check again. Is it now visible in the list? If so the device should now be working with your iPad Pro, if it is not, in Settings>Bluetooth>My Devices look for the Apple Pencil entry and tap the ‘I’ button beside its name in the Devices list. A dialog box will appear that asks if you want to ‘Forget This Device’. Tap this, confirm it, and then plug, or remove and re-plug the Pencil into your iPad Pro Lightning port.

Pair way to heaven

At this point you’ve rebooted your iPad and checked your Pencil tip. You can be relatively confident you’ve recharged your Pencil because you’ve had it plugged into a power source for at least ten minutes and Apple claims you’ll get 30 minutes of use on a single 15-second charge. What should happen once you connect the Apple Pencil to your iPad is that the standard pairing dialog should appear, though this won’t happen if your Pencil is short of charge. Leave your Pencil connected and eventually a dialog box should appear asking if you want to Pair Pencil with your iPad Pro. Tap agree and your Pencil should start working.

Still not working? Contact Apple Support.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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