12/15/229:00 am How To Use Apple's New Freeform App With the latest version of macOS, iOS and iPadOS we get a new tool from Apple to combine text, images, shapes and more. You can use this as a collaboration tool, but it is hard to say where this fits in with other existing tool like Note and Pages. Video Transcript: Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. Let's look at Apple's new Freeform App. MacMost is brought to you thanks to a great group of more than 1000 supporters. Go to MacMost.com/patreon. There you can read more about the Patreon Campaign. Join us and get exclusive content and course discounts. So Freeform is a new app from Apple that you can find in macOS Ventura 13.1, iOS and iPadOS 16.2. We're going to look at it on all 3 of those platforms starting with the Mac. Let's launch Freeform here and when you first do you'll probably get a Welcome screen. After that you'll see a blank canvas that is your first board. Documents in Freeform are called Boards. They are basically a blank canvas with no edges and you can add various elements to them. If you go up a level, by clicking the left arrow next to the name of the Board, you go to a screen that will show you all of your Boards in a Grid or List View. You'll also see a left sidebar here that allows you to view all your Boards, just the Recents, Shared Boards or Favorites. You can also Search your Boards for text that is found in them. Just double click on any Board to go into it. By default you get this Grid View with these grid dots. But you can go to View and you can Hide the Grid if you'd rather not have those. Let's look at some of the elements you can add. From left to right you start with Sticky Notes. These look like little post it notes that you can place wherever you want on the Board and you can drag the corners to change the size. You can double click inside and you write something there. Then you'll see Controls underneath while you have text selected so you can, you know, make the text Bold or Italic. You could center it or left justify it. You can create bullet lists. You can change the size. For more you can go to Format and then you've got a full set of Font controls and Text controls. You even go to Show Fonts here and bring up the regular Font Controls for the Mac so you could do things like, for instance, change the color of the text. Without text selected I could just click to select the actual note itself and then select from a variety of Sticky Note colors. You can't set any color you want, only these. You can also drag this around and position it where you want. Resize of course and you can rotate. If you hold the pointer over a corner and hold down the Command Key you could grab it and rotate. You'll be able to do similar things with all the elements here. Next you've got Shapes. You have a lot more than just the basic shapes here. In fact you have all the shapes available in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. So you can select from a whole variety of different things. You could add a shape just by clicking on it. Drag it around, resize it. Any shape can have text inside it. So you can double click it and there will be a blinking text cursor in there. You could also select it just by itself and you can click here to change the color. You can choose from some basic colors or No Fill but you could also click here and choose any color from the Color Picker. This next button here allows you to set a border. So you can set a border for the entire shape. You can set the thickness for the border and you could set a color for the border as well. Then, like with Stickies, you can grab a corner and resize. You could hold Command and Rotate. You also have the ability to Copy and Paste styles. So I can create another shape here, let's do this, and let's say I want to Copy this style right here. I can go to Format, Copy Style, select this one and go to Format and Paste Style. You can also select a shape or other element and go to Format, Save As Insert Style. When you do this style will be used the next time you create a new shape. Note that under Shapes here you also have some lines and arrows that you can add. So I can select this arrow here and I can change the end. I can change the thickness and then drag the ends to wherever I want. On the Mac there is no way to simply draw shapes but you can click here and then use the Pen tool and then you can draw a shape using straight lines or drag to curve a line. This is the same tool that is available in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Next we have Text. You can select text right there and it's just a text box and you could put something in the text here. You have text controls here. You can select just some of the text and change just that text right there. You can change colors as well. You have the full Font controls if you want for text. You could also select the text. Drag it around. Drag a corner to enlarge it and hold Command down to Rotate it as well. Next we have Media. You can insert photos and videos. Photos from your library. Select a photo. Click Add. You have the photo in here. Notice it has little rounded corners. You can turn that Off under Format, Rounded Corners. Shadow as well. You can turn that Off. You can change the size. Underneath you can click here to Crop and you have the same kind of cropping tools that you do in, say, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote as well. You can also grab a corner here to resize. Command and Drag will allow you to change the rotation. You can place it where you want. You can also mask an image in a shape by going to Format, and then Image Mask With Shape. So I can Mask this inside of an oval for instance. You also have other options in here. Like the ability to take a photo, scan documents, or add a sketch from your iPhone or iPad if they are nearby or connected. You can also add Links. So here you can just type a link to a website and insert and you get a link that looks like this. You can resize it and it will try to adjust. When you select it you should get some controls at the bottom. So you should be able to change the link if you want. You can click here to actually go to that page. Note you can also go to Arrange, Constrain, Proportions and turn that Off. This works for images and shapes as well. Now you can resize it as you want. You could also add a link to a file here. Click there. Select say a regular file like this and it will add it there just like a regular link to a webpage. But this will actually go to that document. You can also select multiple items by dragging like that and change multiple items at the same time. So I can add a border around all of these at the same time. You also have a lot of arrangement tools. I can select all of those and go to Arrange and I could align objects, say, to the center or distribute them vertically like that and then horizontally as well. So on the iPad it looks very similar except that you have one additional tool and that is the Drawing Tool. Tap on the Pen at the top and now you have all the Drawing Tools here. Now if you have an Apple Pencil, of course, then it is ideal. You can draw with the Apple pencil as long as you choose one of these drawing tools here and you can just draw whatever you want. It won't do the thing where like a nose where you can draw a circle and then wait and it will make a perfect circle. It doesn't have that feature unfortunately. But you can use a variety of different tools like Highlighting Tool, an Erasing Tool, a Selection Tool, and it will select these objects. You could also go to the Writing Mode with the Apple pencil and then write. If you'd rather draw with your finger you've got the Option right here to turn On or Off Draw With Finger. You've got, you know, keyboard font tools, dictation tools, and the like here at the bottom as well. The rest works pretty much the same. For instance I can create a sticky note like this and I can drag the corner to resize it. I can use two-fingers on the screen and rotate like that. I've got the same Shape Tools here. I have the same tools for adding Text Boxes and for Inserting Pictures or taking a picture with my camera or scanning from the camera or adding a link or a link to a file. Of course whatever device you're using all of your Boards here at the top level, and Freeform should sync with iCloud. Although note by default Freeform seems to be off an iCloud settings. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe just for the first version here. So go into your iCloud settings on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone to turn On iCloud syncing.Then you'll see all of your Boards across all your devices is just like you see all your notes in the Notes App across all devices. So on the iPhone, of course, you've got the smallest screen that you're going to be able to use this on. So there are a lot of compromises to be made here. For instance, when you add an element, like a sticky note, and you select it notice that your menu items here appear at the bottom of the screen and not underneath it. You, of course, have all the drawing tools but you're drawing with your finger, there's no Apple pencil of course. But in general it is more or less very similar to the iPad version. So Freeform is not meant to be a document creation app. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote will do all of that better. You have more precision, more control over the elements and be able to create pdf's, printed documents, images, all sorts of things in a much better way. Freeform is meant to be simple with easy to use tools. It lacks a lot of advanced options. So use it maybe to gather ideas and to share ideas rather than create a finished product of some sort. For instance say you were going to go on a trip soon and wanted to get some ideas for places to visit where you're going. So you could easily put some images and text into a document. Say let's go to a webpage here and could drag images into the document very easily like that. Once they are in there you can easily arrange these. You can see how they snap to a nice grid like that. You could add some text to it. Place that where you want. Add a shape. Add some sticky notes. A big part of this is collaboration. So the idea is that instead of working on this document by yourself you would use the Share button right here and you would invite somebody else to work with you on this. So now two people are working on the same document. If I were to add some more text here then the other person would see that change. If I were to change something in this document then I would see that change reflected over here as well. You can add multiple other people. When you go into the Settings here you can go to Manage Shared Board and you can actually change the permissions to Anybody with a Link. You could also set it to View Only if you like. So you can make changes but they can just view. There's also some Export options. You can go to File, and then Export as PDF and that's the only direct option right there to create a pdf. Which is nice because it will keep all the nice curves, all the shapes and lines and things that you add. Also you can go to Print if you want and in addition to regular printing you can use the pdf option here to Open in Preview. From Preview you can actually export as an image, say. Now where Freeform falls on the spectrum of Apple Apps is really hard to say because it overlaps quite a bit with Notes. You can do most of this with Notes. You can Share a note. You can add just about the same elements in Notes and Notes, of course, has this background body text that you can use. So Notes is better for things like taking notes in meetings and in classes. You can still sketch on your iPhone and iPad and you can still add images and all sorts of things. On the other hand Pages, Numbers and Keynote are better for creating documents. You have more control over what you're adding and what elements look like and where they are placed. Of course, you can collaborate with all of those. So Freeform really is all about making it simple. After you tryout Freeform I'm interested to hear in the comments how you like it and what things you may use it for. Hope you found this useful. Thanks for watching. Related Subjects: Freeform (9 videos) Related Video Tutorials: No related posts. Comments: 17 Responses to “How To Use Apple's New Freeform App” Mark Luffman 1 year ago Gee Whiz Gary, Looks like Google Docs or Google Drawing! ;-) Mark Luffman 1 year ago That said... Thank you for sharing about Apple's Freeform App! Nice that it works across the three device types. Can you only share with other Apple iCloud users? Thanks so much! Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Mark: As I show you can set it to "anyone with a link" but I think they'd still need to be using iCloud or there's no way for them to use the iCloud feature of Freeform to begin with. I don't see a case where they wouldn't be iCloud users since this app is only on the iPhone, iPad and Mac anyway. If you want to show someone else a board, probably exporting to a PDF and then sending them that is what you would do. Janis 1 year ago Great! Thanks for explaining this new feature. I could see it being used as a personal Apple “Pinterest” board. Juris Ozols 1 year ago Gary - This is super useful as always. Appreciate it. Question - I'm struggling a bit with the "Take Photo" feature. I have my iPhone sharing a board nicely with my iMac. When I do the "Take Photo" action with the iPhone the picture is taken but doesn't show up on the board. Should it? Or does that require a manual "Drag and Drop"? Or do I need to do something else? Thank you for all this! Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago Juris: It should show up in the board. Just tried it on a Mac and it worked for me as expected. Juris Ozols 1 year ago Okay, got it. Have to hit the “Use Photo” button. Thank you again. RJ 1 year ago Gary, can you add a Category of Group so as to put together Boards of the same type or subject. Can't see where you can do mid. Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago RJ: Nope. Best you can do is to use clever naming, like "Trip: Restaurants" and "Trip: Sights" and such then sort by name. George (Germany) 1 year ago Hallo Gary: Freeform ist a useful App for Coaches. I am a Soccer Coachand after loading this APP i quickly created a complete Soccer Training. I needed 10 min for it. Great to hear and watch your Videos. Best Regards from Germany Tom Craig 1 year ago Thank you, Gary, for this "tour de force" of Apple's new Freeform app. You've saved me lots of time in learning its features. I plan to use it to create large boards on my 5K LG monitor from which I make screen grabs (shift-command-4) for posting high resolution jpgs on Facebook or emails. Ira Abramowitz 1 year ago One problem with my M1 mac mini is that borders around shapes are not fully formed. This seems also to happen on my iPad mini 5 Otherwise this is a great app. I plan to use it for producing Holiday Cards in 2023 Louise Kienast 1 year ago I made this silly Keynote silent movie from a pdf to Preview file with all the silly things I played with today in Freeform. Just pure nonsense but fun to do. Is it a good idea to share a link to my 3 minute movie? Not sure if that is allowed here. While it is a bit tricky at first, once I began to play around, it was not a bad outcome. You are a good teacher Gary! Thanks for your ideas. John 1 year ago We used this just before Christmas. My sister (in Boston) and I (in California) planned out a trip to visit relatives in Michigan. We planned out the days, set tasks, etc. My sister was a little undisciplined and kept trying to play hangman while I was tidying things up. Question. There is a button to use Audio. Does that setup up a direct audio connection between devices? We called each other on our iPhones to talk while using this. John 1 year ago I should clarify. When sharing a board, if you click on the icon of the person you are sharing with it gives options for audio and video. I haven’t been able to try these. Do they just call up your phone or Keynote or do something different? Gary Rosenzweig 1 year ago John: When you are collaborating with someone, you can use the video, audio or message buttons to use FaceTime or Messages to communicate. So they are just quick ways to establish those communications. CMS 1 year ago My first impression was very enthusiastic and I can see how people will enjoy "playing" with it but after doing some experiments with it I decided it is only good for fun and not much for work because for example if I need to add images or new stickies inside existing text I create a mess of the layout and have to move everything down, and similar problems with adding new text to an existing piece. I doubt I will use it much because Notes seems a lot more friendly. But it's fun. Comments Closed.