Why is my Apple Pencil not working? Here's how to fix it

why is my apple pencil not working feature
(Image credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

The Apple Pencil is the best stylus you can use with your iPad but alas, nothing is perfect – not even the Apple Pencil. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in the middle of sketching or taking notes when all of a sudden, your pen strokes aren’t appearing on-screen. You lament: “Why is my Apple Pencil not working?” 

We’ve put together a list of four reasons why your Apple Pencil may have stopped working along with the steps you can take to fix the issue. Some of these reasons may seem painfully obvious, but others less so. Fortunately, most Apple Pencil issues can be resolved without having to make a trip to the Genius Bar.

We believe the iPad Pro is one of the best drawing tablets you can buy. The sublime experience of drawing with an Apple Pencil is one of the myriad reasons why we think so. Thus, getting your Apple Pencil to work once again is crucial, and we're here to help with that.

Is your major problem with the Apple Pencil the fact that you keep misplacing it? Learn how to avoid losing your Apple Pencil and avoid shelling out money for a replacement. Meanwhile, if you want to use the Apple Pencil to its fullest potential, have a look at the best iPad Pro apps that work beautifully with the Apple Pencil. 

Why is my Apple Pencil not working: Charging problems

Your Apple Pencil may have stopped working because it ran out of juice. Fortunately, this is very easy to deduce – check the Today View on your iPad to see how much of a charge your Apple Pencil has left. 

How you charge your Apple Pencil varies between models. If you have a first-generation Apple Pencil, plug it into your iPad’s Lightning connector or via USB with the Apple Pencil Charging Adapter. A second-generation Apple Pencil, meanwhile, can charge when you attach it to the magnetic connector on your iPad.

Why is my Apple Pencil not working: Pairing problems

why is my apple pencil not working pairing problems

Make sure your iPad is paired with your Apple Pencil. (Image credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

There’s a chance your Apple Pencil unpaired from your iPad. Check your iPad's Bluetooth settings to confirm this. If your iPad’s Bluetooth is enabled, go ahead and re-pair your Apple Pencil.

To pair a first-generation Apple Pencil (see our Apple Pencil 1 review), simply plug it into your iPad via the Lightning connector, which will then generate a prompt asking if you’d like to pair. If you have a second-generation Apple Pencil, just attach it to the magnetic connector on your iPad to pair it.

Why is my Apple Pencil not working: Nib problems

The quality of the tip of your Apple Pencil (also known as the nib) can hinder your ability to draw properly on your iPad. The Apple Pencil’s nib is loose – which means you’ll just have to tighten it. However, if the Apple Pencil nib feels rough to the touch, or it doesn’t glide smoothly on your iPad screen, it’s time to replace it with a new one. (Another way to tell: your Apple Pencil tip has exposed metal.)

The first-generation Apple Pencil comes with one replacement tip, but the second-generation Apple Pencil doesn’t include any spare nibs at all. Fortunately, you can purchase a replacement pack of Apple Pencil tips so you’ll always be ready to replace the nib when needed. (You'll find some deals for those below.)

Why is my Apple Pencil not working: Compatibility problems

Your Apple Pencil is properly paired, fully charged, and has a fresh nib, but it’s still not working. In this case, it could be a compatibility issue with the app you’re using. Double-check that the drawing or note-taking app you plan to use can support the Apple Pencil – especially if it’s an app you have to pay for. 

Beyond that, your Apple Pencil may not work with your hardware. Check to see if your iPad is compatible.

Why is my Apple Pencil not working: Ask a Genius

why is my apple pencil not working genius bar

If all else fails with your Apple Pencil, ask a Genius. (Image credit: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

If you’ve gone through every point on this list and your Apple Pencil still isn’t working, it’s time to call upon an Apple Genius. Contact Apple tech support – or visit an Apple Store if you’re in proximity – to figure out if your Apple Pencil can be salvaged. 

Both generations of Apple Pencil come with a limited one-year warranty. If you purchased AppleCare+ for iPad, that coverage extends to your Apple Pencil and includes up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months. 

Hopefully, an Apple Genius will be able to diagnose your Apple Pencil problem so you can get back to sketching or drawing. However, if Apple is unable to repair or replace your Apple Pencil for whatever reason, all is not lost. Check out today’s best cheap Apple Pencil deals so you can save some cash on a replacement.

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Alison Barretta

Alison is a freelance writer and editor from Philadelphia, USA. She's been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't hunting for deals, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking. She has written for a number of publications including TechRadar, Forbes and Business Insider.