Does anyone here write on an iPad at all? The iPad 2G is due this summer and I have waited since March 2010 already, so I am planning to purchase one. However, I don't really need an iPad at all; Media consumption can be done using a phone, iPod, or a computer, and I do not usually watch movies while on the move, so that aspect would be essentially useless.

One of the things that I have narrowed down on the use of an iPad would be note-taking, as well as writing. Having a device that you can pull out of your messenger bag and write immediately when inspiration strikes would be amazing. However, there are some people who say that writing on iPad is not really feasible, and that it would be better off working on a computer.

Does anyone have any experience on this?

  • 2
    Are you thinking about writing with a stylus or using a wireless keyboard? I'm assuming that you aren't referring to the on-screen keyboard--that's no way to generate content.
    – RobotNerd
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 15:00
  • I particularly like the idea of writing on an iPad. I've tried it out in stores and it seems like a rather non-distracting and "realistic" way of writing in the digital age. Your writing is the only thing on the screen and you're not using a computer or laptop with hundreds of other potential distractions (even though the iPad does have these, it's not as prevalent). And best of all, it's very easy to do it in a place of comfort, such as the couch or during a train ride. Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 23:19
  • @RobotNerd A bit late, but wireless keyboard would be the most optimal tool to write on the iPad, would it not?
    – JFW
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 8:49
  • I absolutely love the Writer iPad app! I use it to write <a href="ipadngravy.com">iPad app reviews</a> on my website. Every review I do is written with Writer and posted via the wordpress ipad app. Writing on the iPad is soo user friendly I don't see why more writers aren't adopting it as a must-have tool.
    – user2174
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 3:54
  • Like several answer-ers, I wrote most of a novel on an iPad. The question is, can you effectively & comfortably touch-type on an iPad? Some people can, certainly. I'd say try to borrow someone's or mess around with one in the store and see if you're one of those people before you buy. Plenty of perfectly adequate, free iPad text editors exist.
    – RSid
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 20:54

14 Answers 14


I don't use my iPad for my manuscript, but I know several authors who do. They tend to belong to the large camp of writers who prefer using plain text editors for their writing in order to avoid distraction.

However, I do use it for note-taking. I use a combination of two apps for this: Springpad and Elements. Springpad is nice because it doubles as a web based, cross-platform bookmarking tool and note organizing system. I use it to capture ideas for later use. I use Elements to actually author blog posts or chapter fragments while I'm on the road.

If you plan to do any writing on an iPad I highly recommend the Kensington KeyFolio bluetooth keyboard. It's not quite as comfortable as a laptop keyboard but it's better than trying to type on the iPad itself - mostly because you win back the screen real estate that the keyboard steals.

  • 3
    If you're going to use a keyboard, why not just buy a laptop? Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 16:12
  • 5
    Because you can turn an iPad into a laptop but you can't turn a laptop into an iPad. I only use the keyboard when I'm typing large amounts of text - something I probably do less than 5% of the time. Otherwise, I'm using it as God - I mean Steve - intended. Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 19:06
  • Agree. laptops tend to be small and underpowered, with similar battery life, or larger and no batter. Laptops are also not always convenient on the go. I use the iPad in places where I'd never pull out a laptop.
    – way0utwest
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 17:51

I did a blog post on this last year: Can You Get Real Writing Work Done on an iPad?

My answer was yes, by the way.

An edited excerpt (considerably more at the link):

For casual writing (emails, mainly), the iPad’s on-screen keyboard is sufficient. When I had to work on a chapter of the latest book, I turned to one app and an Apple Wireless Keyboard.


The app I used for writing was Dataviz’s Documents to Go Premium, which creates and edits Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). The great thing about the Premium version (and justifies the extra $5 over the basic version) is that it connects with the Dropbox online storage service, which automatically syncs any document between your different devices. So I wrote the chapter in Documents to Go, saved it in the iPad and also to Dropbox (you need an Internet connection, of course), and the chapter was immediately replicated on the Mac at home. When I got home, I opened the document in Word from the Dropbox folder on my Mac Pro, did some touchups, and sent it off to my editor.

  • 2
    Lovely blog. Thanks for the link. :)
    – JFW
    Commented Mar 6, 2011 at 8:51
  • I second this suggestion. I use the same setup with the same apps and find it very effective. Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 4:18

I now write on my iPad. The thing that did it for me is the ZaggNote case and Bluetooth keyboard. Before that, I couldn't write anything on the iPad. zagg.com

  • I'll second the endorsement for the Zaggmate keyboard/case. The keyboard is a little small, but you can get used to it and be fantastically productive. Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 18:04

I find that Pages works pretty well (Pages is Apples word process for the iPad). There are a couple extra steps to get documents out of the application, but nothing huge. Though for long term typing I would use a Bluetooth keyboard.

Also, a book stand works well to hold up the iPad so it's comfortable to read as you type.


Absolutely. I wrote about 60% of my NaNoWriMo content on an iPad, both on the bus and at the local library, using PlainText. Several times, I wrote for over two hours on the device. My typing rate, while lower, was not substantially lower than with a full keyboard.

That said, it's not as easy or comfortable as a laptop or desktop (or a Bluetooth keyboard, with is effectively a laptop with a disconnected screen). So, like anything, you have to weigh the pros and cons of the tool for the situation. For the scenario you describe, taking notes on the go, or having a portable device handy when inspiration strikes, the iPad exactly fits. If you're spending all day typing, you'd be better served by having a physical keyboard.


For me, writing on the iPad (without a wireless keyboard) is somewhere between writing using the pen and typing on the keyboard.

The reason I say this: it is harder to make edits on the iPad than on the computer. That makes you want to carefully choose your words and plan ahead a bit.

I use Pages and Dropbox. The dictionary built into Pages is actually good.


As a Game Master for a bi-weekly role-playing group, I write a lot of notes on my iPad. I use Pages, and sync it to a Box.net account using WebDav.

I'm also in the process of writing my first novel, also using Pages. So far it meets all my needs.

I believe that publishing a book written with Pages (digital or paper) won't be too difficult if you just focus on writing and not page making. Just write, and leave all the page makeing to the end, since every publisher has its own rules and guidelines.


I do, quite regularly.

Initially, I used it to write for classes mostly. Now, I've begun to work on more creative projects using Pages and an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard.

Though the Apple keyboard costs a little more than a non-name brand device, it fits perfectly alongside the keyboard in my bag.

At present, I use a small iPad wedge stand, but I'm considering a Compass stand from TwelveSouth. They're quite nice.


As usual, the answer is "depends." For idea generation, capturing bits of dialog you overhear, writing copy - an iPad with an Apple Wireless Keyboard is hard to beat for portability.

But, if you need to do a great deal of editing, nearly any desktop app will have it beat.

I think as a tool for observing life it's excellent (and the iPad2 will be even better).

Related to this is the whole plain text vs. rich text debate. Bottom line is if you are still going though a publisher, you will use what they tell you to use (Word). But if you are an authorprenur, you end product is going to be several formats: pdf, ePub, etc. Keep life simple and go plain text.


I write on my ipad using a bluetooth wireless keyboard. It's great if you're travelling by train or in a hotel room, but I generally email whatever I've written to my desk top computer and do the editing there.


I would say an iPad is good if you're writing a note, but not a chapter - the touchscreen lacks the tactile feedback I need to go to full touchtyping (for one, it's really easy for your fingers to wander.)

Adding a physical keyboard solves that problem (and as others have mentioned, reclaims a lot of physical space on screen). I haven't tried one of the bluetooth solutions yet, but the USB adapter on the Camera kit will let you plug any USB keyboard in. The popup says it's not supported, but it works just fine.


I carry my iPad at times when I'll be without power for a long time. My laptop will only last 2-3 hours, and sometimes I want to write or make notes for a longer time than that.

I don't have an external keyboard, but I have considered getting one. If I type in landscape, I can type almost as fast as on a traditional keyboard, but the corrections take longer. The interface doesn't lend itself well to corrections (from my perspective), so I tend to leave those to later.

I have used the Wordpress app and Blogpress to write blog posts or observations at different times. I also use Evernote extensively to make notes or write pieces (short articles) at times and have them sync up with my other machines.


I've used my iPad to write a lot of blog posts and a few articles. I haven't done any writing on it like for a book project. Mostly that's because the publishers want their funky templates to be used that only work in Microsoft Word.

I can type about as quickly on the ipad virtual keyboard as I can on a normal keyboard (about 70 WPM or so). It requires keeping a bit of a watch on the auto correct on the iPad so you don't get totally screwed up, but like anything all it takes is some practice.


Charlie Stross is an SF writer and tech maven. He's written quite a bit about writing on an iPad. He doesn't use it as his primary writing machine, but finds it a convenient travel device. Stross thinks the iPad can be a good writing tool -- but you must have an external keyboard. There's a lot of detail at the links.

  • This doesn't answer the question at all. Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 2:55
  • Sure it does the main problem with writing on the iPad is the onscreen keyboard: It provides no tactile feedback and takes up half the screen. Stross evaluated most of the the options for serious text input.
    – sjl
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 8:11
  • The question was asking is anyone has experience writing on the iPad and whether or not it's a good tool to use. It doesn't ask anything about what a good keyboard for the iPad is. Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 13:54
  • I'm sorry I was unclear. I meant that Stross said the iPad was a good tool if (and only if) you have an external keyboard. I've recast my answer to make that clearer, and added more about his other iPad experiences.
    – sjl
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 18:55

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