What Is the Freeform App? Plus, 10 Creative Ways to Use It

December 6, 2023 • Shannon Flynn

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Do the lines in your notebook feel restrictive? Do you wish you could leave the bounds of your 8×11 sketchpad? Now you can. In 2022, Apple released the Freeform app for iPhone, iPad and Mac operating systems. The app allows you to create collaborative whiteboard projects with other people. On an infinite blank canvas, you can add drawings, photos, videos, text, website links, map addresses and more. Here’s how to use the Freeform app.

How to Get the Freeform App

First, to use the Freeform app, you need to have an updated operating system. The app works on any device supporting MacOS 13.1, iPadOS 16.2 and iOS 16.2 or later. Perform a system update, if necessary, so your device is running on the most current operating system. 

Freeform comes on all new iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. However, you may have uninstalled it at some point. Go to the App Store and re-download it from the cloud if it isn’t on your device. 

Navigating Freeform

The way you’ll use the Freeform app depends on which device you’re working with. On an iPhone or iPad, you’ll use your fingers to navigate the app, scrolling with one finger and pinching to zoom in and out. The iPad also lets you use an Apple Pencil for sketching. On a Mac computer, you’ll use the mouse — including the scroll wheel — to move around the app.

Freeform lets you add up to 99 additional people to collaborate with you on your board. You’ll need to enable iCloud to share the board. Of course, you can also use the app alone if you’re working on a personal project. 

There are five or six main icons you’ll be using in Freeform, varying depending on which device you’re using:

Sticky Notes

The first icon, which looks like a square with three horizontal lines, adds sticky notes to the board. You can click or double-tap on these notes to type on them.

Shapes

The second icon, an overlapping square and circle, is the Shapes button. Select it to add different shapes to the board, dragging them by the corner to change their size. Tap or click on a shape to change its color, outline or outline thickness. 

Hit the Duplicate button to copy the shape. Under the More button — three dotted lines — select Break Apart to break the shape into smaller pieces, each of which you can manipulate separately.

Text Boxes

The third icon — a rectangle with the letter A inside — is the text box button. Select it to add a text box to your board. Within each text box, you can change the font and make the text bold, italic or underlined. Use the strikethrough feature to mark items off a list or veto ideas. It’s also easy to change the color of the text, add bulleted lists and more. 

Drawing

If you’re using Freeform on a phone or iPad, the fourth icon is a marker inside a circle. This is the Drawing feature. It allows you to doodle in different colors and with different pens, pencils and markers.

Insert Link

The location of this icon, which looks like a landscape photo, varies depending on which device you use. On an iPhone or iPad, it’s the fifth button. It allows you to insert links, photos or videos. It also lets you scan documents or access your camera to take a photo.

Files

If you’re using Freeform on the computer, the last icon — which looks like a folder — allows you to open your computer files. From there, you can easily add pictures, videos and other files to the board. 

Creative Ways to Use the Freeform App

Now that you have a basic understanding of how to navigate the Freeform app, here are some unique ideas for how to use it:

Organize a Trip

Plan a vacation and add everyone who’s invited to the board. Together, you can share images or write lists to help you decide what to do on your trip. Where do you want to hike? Which can’t-miss restaurants fall along your driving route?

Write a To-Do List

If you’re a creative, non-linear thinker, a traditional to-do list can make you feel overwhelmed or stifled. Create a less constrained list complete with photos, shapes and even videos, then draw a checkmark next to each item you complete. 

Make Art

Use an Apple Pencil to sketch on the iPad or use your finger to doodle on the iPhone. Plan a mural or painting before you create the real thing. Break shapes apart, recolor them and rearrange them into new designs.

Collaborate on a Group Project

School and work projects often require you to work as a team. Use the Freeform app as a collaborative space for brainstorming, drawing and writing with other people. 

Plan a Party

Make a list of potential themes, activities and music ideas for your next party, then invite people to work on the board with you to share their own ideas. Write out a detailed budget with a breakdown of how much everything will cost. When planning a potluck, list who will bring each dish.

Take Notes During Class

If you like the freedom of handwriting but want to back up your notes to the cloud, use Freeform as a note-taking app. Just like on paper, you can easily illustrate the concepts your professor is talking about and draw lines to connect ideas — except you won’t lose your notes if you spill coffee on the desk.

Make a Mood Board

Draft ideas for a stylish wardrobe, beautiful garden or well-decorated home. You can paste in online images or your own drawings for inspiration.

Learn a New Language

Use Freeform as an adjunct to your other language-learning tools. Take notes, connect words to images and add links to useful audio files. 

Make a Virtual Scrapbook

Use Freeform to create a digital scrapbook to remember a fun trip or event.

Use Freeform in the Classroom

Freeform is useful for planning, collaborating and designing lessons. Let students work together to create infographics or dioramas to help solidify the lesson they’re learning. 

Unleashing Your Creative Side

True to its name, the Freeform app allows you to work unrestrained by lines or borders. By letting you draw, type and paste without limits — as well as collaborate on group boards — Freeform is the perfect app for anyone who thinks outside the box.



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