A feature that has become common among messaging apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp is the ability to edit photos with drawings and text overlays before sending them. In fact, this ability has also been added to the Messages app on iOS. But unbeknown to many, the ability to annotate images is also built into other stock iOS apps, thereby doing away with the need for a third-party app to mark up photos for most intents and purposes.
Let this AppAdvice article guide you on how to access and use the built-in Markup image editor on iOS.
How to find the Markup editor
The thing with Markup on iOS is it’s not obvious, that is, it’s not an immediately apparent feature. For one thing, it’s not readily accessible as a dedicated app that you can simply open if you want to annotate an image. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to bring up — you just have to know where to look.
The Markup editor can be accessed within four of Apple’s built-in apps on iOS: Photos, Messages, Mail, and Notes. Refer to the steps listed below to find out how to bring it up in each supported app.
How to access Markup in Photos
Open the Photos app.
Find the image you want to mark up and tap it.
In the full image view, tap the edit icon (the one with the adjustment sliders).
In the edit screen, tap the more icon (the one with the ellipsis enclosed in a circle).
In the pop-up menu, tap the Markup button (the one with the toolbox icon).
How to access Markup in Messages
Open the Messages app.
Tap the New Message icon and enter a recipient.
Or: Tap an existing conversation.
Tap the Camera icon to the left of the message field, above the keyboard.
Swipe left to scroll through your most recent images and tap the image you want to mark up.
Or: Swipe right, tap the Camera button, tap the shutter button to take a new photo, and tap Done.
Or: Swipe right, tap the Photo Library button, browse for and tap the image you want to mark up, and tap Choose.
The image will then be placed in the message field. Tap it.
In the full image view, tap Markup.
How to access Markup in Mail
Open the Mail app.
Tap the New Message icon.
Or: Tap an existing message or conversation, tap the arrow icon at the bottom, and tap Reply or Forward in the pop-up menu.
On the message field, tap where you want to attach the image you want to mark up.
On the pop-up contextual menu, tap “Insert Photo or Video.”
Browse for and tap the image you want to mark up, and tap Choose.
The image will then be placed in the message field. Tap and hold on the image.
On the pop-up contextual menu, tap Markup.
How to access Markup in Notes
Open the Notes app.
Tap the New Note icon.
Or: Browse for and select an existing note.
On the note field, tap where you want to embed the image you want to mark up.
Tap the “+” button and tap the camera icon.
On the popup menu, tap “Photo Library,” browse for and tap the image you want to mark up, and tap Choose.
Or: On the popup menu, tap “Take Photo or Video,” tap the shutter button to take a new photo, and tap “Use Photo.”
The image will then be placed in the note. Tap the image.
On the full image view, tap the share icon and then find and tap the Markup button in the bottom row of the share sheet.
Markup is ideal for use in Messages and Mail for spontaneous and ephemeral edits, like a jokey scrawl on a selfie or a typographical correction on a screenshot.
But when used in Photos, Markup lets you save the edits in your photo library (until you revert to the original and discard the edits, that is), make subsequent edits, and share the marked-up image anytime via email, text, or any other means available through the iOS share sheet.
And in Notes, Markup also lets you save your edits and make subsequent edits to the marked-up embedded images.
How to Mark Up Photos
Now that you know how to invoke Markup should the need arise in Photos, Messages, Mail, or Notes, you must know how to make the most out of it by learning how to use all of the different tools it provides. Across the Photos, Messages, Mail and Notes apps, Markup offers three main utilities: drawing, magnification, and text.
To start drawing on an image, tap the “draw” icon at the bottom of the Markup screen. You’re then free to use the drawing tools as you please, in any way and order you want.
Basically, you just have to slide your finger on the screen to draw whatever you want on the image, and drag your drawing to move it around or change its orientation.
You can leave your sketches and doodles as they are, of course. But you can also take advantage of Markup’s shape recognition feature. You see, when you draw something that looks like a common shape, such as an oval, a circle, a square, or even a star, you can choose to have Markup automatically adjust your drawing into a more accurate rendering of the shape. You can then drag any of the blue dots to adjust the size or orientation of the shape.
You can tap a drawing to bring up a contextual menu that lets you delete or duplicate the drawing.
You can tap any of the eight color dots to change the line color of the selected drawing.
You can also tap the thickness icon to select from three line thickness options. Alternatively, you can press harder or softer while drawing on a device that supports 3D Touch to adjust the line thickness on the fly.
Tap the “magnify” icon at the bottom of the Markup screen to put a virtual magnifying glass or loupe on the image and zoom into a particular portion of the image.
Here are the things you can do with the magnification tool in Markup:
- Drag the loupe to the spot you want to magnify.
- Drag the blue dot inward or outward to make the loupe smaller or bigger.
- Drag the green dot along the top-right quarter arc of the loupe to adjust the zooming level.
- Tap the loupe to bring up a contextual menu that lets you delete or duplicate the loupe.
- Tap any of the eight color dots to change the color of the loupe’s circumference.
- Tap the thickness icon to select from three thickness options for the loupe’s circumference.
Tap the “text” icon at the bottom of the Markup screen to put a text box on the image.
Here are the things you can do with the text tool in Markup:
- Drag either of the blue dots to resize the text box.
- Drag the text box to move it around.
- Use two fingers to rotate the text box.
- Tap the text box to bring up a contextual menu that lets you delete, edit, or duplicate the text box.
- Double-tap the text box to edit the text it contains.
- Tap any of the eight color dots to change the color of the text.
- Tap the “aA” icon to select from three font options (Helvetica, Georgia, Noteworthy), adjust the text by dragging the slider, and choosing from four types of text alignment (flush left, centered, justified, flush right).
Refer to this article for detailed information on how to use Markup’s special signature tool
Whichever tool or whatever combination of tools you’ve used when marking up an image, you can undo your last action by tapping the reversed arrow icon.
And that’s how you can access and use the built-in Markup image editor on iOS.
As you may have noticed, it’s pretty basic, with only three main annotation tools and limited customization options. But in cases which don’t require advanced mark-up capabilities such as pixelation and stamps, it’s more than up to task.
If you have comments and suggestions regarding Markup for images on iOS, please leave them below.