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This iOS 16 trick makes your scribbly photo annotations look great

Effortlessly take your iPhone on-screen annotations to the next level.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Hand-drawing on a screen is always hit-and-miss, and annotations usually end up looking scribbly and a bit, well, terrible.

This iOS 16 trick will make them look amazing and professional.

OK, take this photo of my morning coffee, and let's say I want to annotate it.

Also: iOS 16: How to get the most out of your iPhone's new lock screen

Coffee photo that has been annotated.

My coffee (badly) annotated.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

It looks a bit terrible, doesn't it? (Actually, it took me several attempts to get annotations that looked that good!)

But we can make it a lot better. 

Here's how.

  • Step 1: Go into Photos and find the image you want to edit.
  • Step 2: Tap Edit.
Arrow pointing to Edit button.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Step 3: Tap the pen icon.
Arrow pointing to pen icon.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Step 4: Pick a drawing tool to get going.
Drawing tools circled.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Step 5: Draw the shape you want to make as usual. Don't lift your finger off the screen.
  • Step 6: Once you've finished, keep holding your finger on the display, and iOS 16 will magically transform your arrow or shape (we'll get to what works in a moment) into a smooth, professional one!

Here's what the process looks like:

Annotations on a coffee cup photo.

Super tidy annotations.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Also: iOS 16 has a hidden Photoshop-like feature. Where to find it and how to use it (and why you're going to love it)

As for what shapes seem to work, here's what I've found:

  • Straight line
  • Arrow
  • Circle
  • Ellipse
  • Triangle
  • Square
  • Pentagon

There are probably more waiting to be uncovered, and Apple will likely improve this feature over time. I'd really like it to be able to make handwriting look better!

While there are other ways to annotate photos and diagrams -- I use TechSmith's SnagIt for most of my work -- for people who want a simple, no-cost solution, this is definitely worth trying out. 

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