6 creative ways to use Apple’s free-form app

6 creative ways to use Apple’s free-form app

Freeform is an official Apple app that is free for macOS, iPadOS, and iOS. It’s a great way to jot down creative ideas with endless blank space that expands as needed.

You can draw, sketch and color your ideas, then share them in real time or chat while you work using the integrated FaceTime function.

Besides being a lot of fun to use, Freeform also has creative potential for those times when inspiration strikes. So here are some ways to use this app.

What is freeform?

Freeform application board showing different things it can be used with

Freeform is an Apple tablet app that comes preinstalled on macOS Ventura 13.1, iOS 16.2, and iPad 16.2. The app lets you create boards with an endless blank canvas that stretches in any direction you want.

With the drawing tools, you can handwrite notes or scribble on the page with your finger or Apple Pencil. It also has features that allow you to add media such as audio, photos or links. This makes it suitable for visual brainstorming of ideas or less structured note-taking.

Finally, Freeform boards are easily shared with other Apple users, and you can add up to 99 people to the same board to work on a project at the same time. The app also lets you collaborate with others using FaceTime, and boards can be synced between other devices signed in to the same iCloud account.

If you need a quick guide to get started, check out our dedicated article on how to use the Freeform app.

6 ways to creatively use the freeform application

Once you’ve learned how to create a board and use some basic tools, you may be wondering where to start. A blank page can be intimidating, but here are a few ways you can use Freeform for your daily tasks.

1. Exchange of ideas

Gathering ideas about different dog breeds for apartments with Freeform

The first way to use Freeform is to brainstorm. Of course, the blank page is a non-linear way to jot down inspiration as it comes. Younger generations in particular may appreciate being paperless while being free to scribble and write.

You don’t have to worry about page layouts, just one big, pull-out canvas. If you find yourself bumping into the edge of the page, simply zoom out to reveal more space or drag the page in any direction to reach an empty space.

Try to connect objects during brainstorming using the arrow in the shape library. You can also drag the arrowhead near an element to automatically connect to the object. This way, the two objects stay connected even if you move them to a new position.

2. Create a Mood Board

A mood board featuring images of Ivy League fashion created using the Freeform app

Another good way to use Freeform is to create mood boards. You can add images to the board by importing them from your hard drive; however, it’s even easier to drag images from the web onto the board.

On iPad, this works best if you use split view to display Freeform on one side and the browser window on the other side. You can drag images into Freeform by holding your finger on the image until a menu appears. Then, without lifting a finger, drag the image into Freeform.

This saves you the trouble of downloading and manually importing each file to your device separately. You can add this trick to your list of iPad tips to increase productivity.

While you can organize your images with a dedicated moodboard app like Pure Ref, average users will find that Freeform does the trick, especially if it’s installed and ready on up-to-date Apple devices.

3. Plan a vacation

Freeform board with header

If you have a whole family of Apple users, you might want to check out the live collaboration features offered by Freeform. If it’s about something like a vacation, it’s a fun way to share your thoughts.

The first feature that makes this possible is the ability to share your board with up to 99 other people. When someone joins the board, they can add things and the rest of the group can see the changes in real time. In other words, any changes made to the table will be updated immediately.

For families living in different states or countries, Freeform is a valuable resource for gathering ideas. If you want to video chat while you’re scribbling down your ideas, that’s also possible thanks to the integrated FaceTime function.

4. Draft

Sketch of a crab with Freeform

Freeform has some basic drawing tools that are great if you’re using an iPad with Apple Pencil. For anyone who prefers to sketch out their ideas rather than write them down, this is a great tool to use on the go.

You can also use drawing tools on iPhone by using your finger as input. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Mac users, and you won’t be able to use the drawing tools at all. Hopefully this will change with future updates, though it could be Apple’s way of getting more people to buy iPads.

Learning Procreate on iPad is still a better option for illustrators or designers who need rich features, but where Freeform works well is getting ideas quickly. The tools are simplified and the board shows only a few visible menu items, the rest are hidden.

The next time you have an idea for a new artwork or design, download the sketch in free format before you forget it.

5. Educational tool

Teaching questions written in the Freeform application

Freeform can be used as an app for classroom teachers, especially since it’s free to use, making it an affordable resource if you’re already using Apple devices.

You can send a link to students to give them access to the board. Anyone with the link can make changes to the board, unless you change the board’s settings to view only.

As a teacher, you may want to lock certain items so that students cannot remove them. In this case, select the item(s) to display the edit menu, then press the button more an icon that looks like a circle with three dots inside. This will show you the extended menu containing the option Lock an item in place.

On Mac, the process is similar; Control-click an item to select it Lock from the menu. Students can then work on the board at the same time without removing the main items. It’s definitely a fun way to get kids working together on a digital project.

6. Just for fun

A duck's doodle with the Freeform app

At the end of the day, an endless blank canvas is just fun for doodling, jotting down colorful notes, or just exercising your creative muscle in general.

It’s a good option for casual users because it’s free to access, quick to open, and keeps things simple with a few basic features. By sharing your boards with others, you can open a page for yourself and a friend and easily draw together.

No matter how you use it, there’s no pressure to be a professional artist or a perfect designer. With a few pen tools and a library full of shapes, you can capture your thoughts in a much brighter and more exciting way than creating a text document.

Get creative with Apple’s Freeform app

Joining Apple’s free apps is Freeform, a tool that can help you exercise your creativity. Use it to brainstorm, create a mood board, or plan your next vacation.

With Freeform, you can quickly share whiteboards with anyone using an Apple device, and the FaceTime integrated into the app makes it much easier to discuss your project.

Because you can sketch, scribble, or write notes by hand, it can be a valuable teaching tool. But if you can’t find any other reason to use Freeform, try simply doodling on the canvas for fun.

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