Windows Ink has been a part of Windows 10 since late 2016. The Windows Ink Workspace is a set of apps designed for touch-enabled devices. Combined with an active stylus, or pen, you can quickly jot down notes in the Sticky Notes app, sketch ideas in the Sketchpad app, or makes notes on screenshots in the Screen Sketch app.
You don’t need to have a device with a pen, like a Surface Pro 4. You can use Windows Ink Workspace on any Windows 10 PC, with or without a touchscreen. Having a touchscreen allows you to write on the screen with your finger in the Sketchpad or Screen Sketch apps.
Here is our hands-on guide to using Windows Ink Workspace on your Windows 10 PC or device. We didn’t have a pen to test on our Windows 10 touchscreen laptop.
Open the Windows Ink Workspace
If you have a Surface Pro device, press the button on the pen to open the Windows Ink Workspace. If you’re using a Windows 10 PC with or without a touchscreen, but no pen, you may need to add the Windows Ink Workspace button to the Taskbar.
The button looks like script capital “I” and would be on the right side of the Taskbar next to the time and date. If you don’t see the button, right-click on an empty area on the Taskbar and select Show Windows Workspace button from the popup menu.
To open the Windows Ink Workspace, click the button that now appears on your Taskbar.
Jot Down Notes and Create Reminders With Sticky Notes
Sticky Notes has been part of Windows for a while, but the Windows Ink Workspace links your sticky notes to Cortana. When you enter a reference to a day or time, like “tomorrow,” you can let Cortana remind you of the event you write on the note. If you enter a flight number, Cortana will fetch the flight status from Bing. If you’re using multiple Windows devices, your Sticky Notes will be synced across them.
Click the Windows Ink Workspace button on the Taskbar and then click Sticky Notes at the top.
To be able to use the integrations with Bing and Cortana, you must enable insights. When the dialog box pictured below displays, click Enable Insights.
If you have a pen for your device, write a message on the sticky note. Or type the note if you don’t have a pen. You’ll notice that any day or time you put on the note turns red. To create a reminder from your note, click the red text.
Next, click the Add Reminder button that displays at the bottom of the note.
Cortana pops up asking to use your Microsoft account to personalize your experience. Click Personalize.
Select the account you want to use and click Continue. You can use a live.com, outlook.com, or hotmail.com account.
Even though you’re already signed into Cortana, you must re-enter your password again because you’re accessing sensitive information. Then, click Sign in.
Set the time and date and select the frequency and then click Remind.
Cortana says she will remind you and shows you the reminder she set up.
Use the plus icon to add a new note. To change the color of the current note, click the Menu button and select a color. Each note can be a different color. To delete the note, click the trash can icon.
When you delete a note, a confirmation dialog box displays to make sure you want to delete it. If you don’t want to see this dialog box every time, check the Don’t ask me again box before clicking Delete.
Sketch Your Ideas With Sketchpad
Sketchpad is a very simple app that displays a blank one-page sketchpad where you can write or draw anything you want on it. This is handy if you come up with an idea and you need to draw something to get it down. Instead of grabbing a piece of paper, use Sketchpad.
To start sketching, click the Windows Ink Workspace button on the Taskbar and then click Sketchpad.
Microsoft provided a default drawing in Sketchpad to start with. To clear the sketchpad completely and start fresh, click Clear all on the toolbar.
In the left section of the toolbar, you’ll find the Ballpoint Pen, Pencil, Highlighter, Eraser, and Ruler tools. Click on a tool to use it on the sketchpad, then use your pen, finger, or mouse to draw or erase on the sketchpad.
The ballpoint pen and pencil each have thirty colors you can use to draw and the highlighter has six different colors. To change the color for a tool, click the arrow on the button and then click the color you want to use. You can also change the Size of the tool.
Ever tried to draw a straight line on a screen? It’s hard enough on paper without a ruler. The Sketchpad app includes a ruler you can use at any angle, even without a pen.
I've painted digitally for 9 years. I still don't know how to draw a straight line on a computer. pic.twitter.com/QBed3hUapl
— cheryl (@toastytofu) August 11, 2016
Click the Ruler tool on the toolbar. You’ll see a ruler display on the sketchpad at a 45-degree angle. If you have a touchscreen, you can move the ruler around with one finger and change the angle by twisting two fingers around on the ruler.
If you don’t have a touchscreen, use the mouse to click and drag the ruler around. To change the angle without a touchscreen, move the mouse cursor over the ruler and use the scroll wheel.
Once you’ve positioned the ruler, draw along the edge of the ruler with any of the drawing tools. You’ll find even if you stray away from the edge of the ruler, the line you’re drawing will stay straight.
The middle section on the toolbar allows you to turn Touch Writing on or off, undo and redo actions, and crop your sketch.
The buttons in the right section of the toolbar allow you to clear the entire sketchpad, save the sketch as a PNG file, copy the sketch to the clipboard, or share your sketch through Windows 10’s sharing center.
Close the Sketchpad using the red X button on the right side of the toolbar. Your sketch remains in the Sketchpad app until you clear it.
Annotate Screenshots With Screen Sketch
The Screen Sketch app allows you to take a screenshot of whatever’s currently on your screen and then draw on it using the same tools available in the Sketchpad app. It’s like Edge’s Ink feature, but you can draw on the entire screen, not just on a web page.
To use Screen Sketch, make sure what you want to capture is active on the screen. Then, click the Windows Ink Workspace button and click Screen Sketch.
The app captures the screen and presents it for you to write on. Use the drawing tools and the ruler to draw or write what you want using a pen, your finger, or a mouse.
You can save, copy, or share your screenshot just like you can do with sketches in the Sketchpad app.
Open a Pen-Enabled App
Recently used pen-enabled apps are listed towards the bottom of the Windows Ink Workspace, whether or not you have a pen.
For example, you can click the Edge icon.
Then use Edge’s Ink feature to write on a web page. Some of the same tools you’ll recognize from the Sketchpad and Screen Sketch app are also available in Edge’s Ink feature. You can also save and share your annotated web page.
Get More Pen-Enabled Apps
The Get more pen apps link on the Windows Ink Workspace opens the Windows Store and shows you all the apps in which you can use your pen.
Customize the Pen Settings
If you’re using a pen, you can customize it in the Windows 10 Settings app by clicking Pen & Windows Ink settings at the bottom of the Windows Ink Workspace. As we mentioned, we don’t have a pen to test, but you can learn about the Pen settings on Microsoft’s support site.
Organize Your Ideas and Life With Windows Ink
Try out the Windows Ink Workspace to take notes and create reminders for yourself, sketch your ideas, or annotate a screenshot. You can also share your sketches and screenshots with others.
If the Windows Ink Workspace doesn’t quite meet your note-taking needs, give OneNote a try.
Have you used the Windows Ink Workspace? On a Surface device or a Windows 10 PC with a touchscreen? What do you use the Windows Ink apps for? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.