Your MacBook makes it relatively easy to keep in touch with the office and perform critical computing tasks while on the road. Nevertheless, there are times when you may need to create handwritten notes or sketches to remember things and capture ideas. By connecting a digital pen to your MacBook, you can jot down notes or create drawings and then save them for later or share them online.
Just as with those made for Windows laptops, there are a couple of ways to connect digital pens to your MacBook. The first, and least expensive, option is a digital pen that uses a standard USB cable to connect to your laptop. With a USB digital pen, connecting the device is as simple as plugging it in, inserting the installation disc and running the setup routine.
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Connecting a Bluetooth digital pen is relatively simple as well. It requires little more than clicking the "System Preferences" icon on the desktop, selecting the "Bluetooth" icon and then clicking the "On" check box to turn on the protocol. Once you power on the Bluetooth digital pen, a "+" icon will appear on the desktop that you can click and follow the prompts to link the devices. Even if you use the Bluetooth option, you still need to install the scanning software for the digital pen from the installation disc.
Some digital pens use regular ink so you can write on paper with them. With these types of digital pens, you attach or place a small detection scanner on the paper or notebook on which you are writing. The scanner then detects movement of the pen and sends the data to the MacBook. The accuracy of the signals depends heavily upon the placement of the scanner unit. Consequently, you must place or clip the scanner as close as possible to the surface on the paper or notebook on which you will be writing. The scanner detects motion from the pen in a downward "triangle" or "cone" shaped area and generally has a range of about 10 to 12 inches. After placing the scanner unit, it should detect the pen movements accurately and send them to the writing or drawing application for the pen on the MacBook.
Pens with Pads/Tablets
While some higher-end digital pens use regular ink, most still require pads or tablets as a writing surface. These types of pens and tablets connect to the computer the same way as those with ink – via USB or Bluetooth. However, instead of connecting the pen to the MacBook, you must connect the pad or tablet. The pen used with the pad or tablet is more of a stylus than an actual writing instrument. Consequently, you may be able to use a stylus designed for a phone or mobile device with the pad just as easily. With some Bluetooth pens/pads, though, this is not the case, and you may have to install rechargeable batteries in both the pad and pen before using the device with your MacBook.
How useful you find your digital pen will depend a lot on the software you use with it. Some digital pen applications only support the importing of writings or drawings as image files that are hard to edit. Conversely, better digital pen applications support the importing of handwriting as editable text using OCR, or optical character recognition, technology. For drawings created with a digital pen, most applications that ship with the devices support saving imported sketches as TIFF or PDF files. A few higher-end digital pen applications offer more options for saving files in smaller space-saving formats, such as GIF or JPEG. Besides the driver for the pen and pad itself, though, using the included pen application is not required. If you don't like the software included with the pen, you can always download and install third-party image editing applications that support tablets/digital pens, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Draw.