Apple’s new Freeform app offers an easy way to organize your thoughts, visualize projects, and communicate your ideas. It’s a blank canvas that’s easy to fill with images, shapes, notes, links, and more.
Here are three cool things I tried to get started with Freeform: easy sharing, organized efforts, and tons of styling options.
Easy sharing with Mac, iPhone and iPad
First is Freeform’s easy sharing and collaboration, which allows me to use multiple devices to enhance the board. Starting on an M1 MacBook Air, I created a new dashboard, added a header, and added some links from Safari. Switching to my iPhone 13 Pro Max, I hit the Freeform app Hand-Off to proceed to this board and took a photo. On my third generation iPad Pro 12.9 inch, I drew on the board using the Apple Pencil 2 to easily highlight some of the details. Each device added value in ways that would be more difficult to achieve with just a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
The idea was to update our garden area with benches, plants, trees and other touches to make it an inviting place to relax. Of course, the work won’t get done in the winter, but planning ahead and remembering the details is easy with the Freeform app. Now we’ll have a record of what we want to do as the weather warms. Along the way, the board can be updated if inspiration strikes or new garden accessories prove to be interesting.
When I was satisfied with the first draft of this Freeform board, I sent an invitation to my wife, Tracy, to join her ideas. Note that you must allow the Freeform app to use iCloud. This setting is found in the Settings app under Apple ID/iCloud parameters. Tracy uses a first-generation 11-inch iPad, but it didn’t run on iPadOS 16.2, which is the minimum requirement for Freeform.
After the update he was able to open my invitation and see what I did. Adding your own notes, links, and photos makes this a great collaboration for working on a long-term project like this.
Keeping project boards organized and easy to understand can be a difficult challenge, especially when using real paper, chalkboard, or cork board. The effort of physically rearranging things becomes a barrier to creating a beautiful layout. There are tons of note-taking and organization apps available, but sometimes they’re complicated and require a subscription to use.
With Apple’s new Freeform app, you can drag and drop elements wherever you want. Moreover, you can also adjust the edges by selecting two or more elements and selecting the group tool. It looks like three rectangles and offers several options. In addition to grouping, aligning edges and centering, the Mac version of the application also allows the distribution of selected objects with equal distances. As usual, Apple provides more precise control over the Mac, while the iPhone and iPad are portable, with better cameras and touchscreens, each with something special to offer.
Add some style
The Freeform app helps you gather resources, organize ideas, and collaborate with others, which sounds like a great tool for the job. That’s true, but it’s also pretty fun to play around with colors, fonts, and various pre-made objects. My wife and I thought it was nice to spend a little more time and add some style to the board.
The default sans-serif font is fine, and center-aligned text is usually nice. On the other hand, taking a few minutes to make things look nicer might inspire you to visit the board more often and add refinements.
Since the Freeform app has an infinite canvas, I can add more notes like cost estimates, alternate links, color themes, and more. The most daunting thing about using Apple’s Freeform app is getting started. It’s like a blank canvas for an artist or a blank page for a writer. Putting something on the board is the first step and then I just add more and more, dragging links and photos, typing notes or drawing a picture.
At any moment I can switch from creative thinking to organizing or analyzing to bring a concept closer to reality.
What do you need
The Freeform app does not run in the browser, and there is no Windows or Android version available. An Apple device is a strict requirement. To try the Freeform app on your Mac or MacBook, you need macOS Ventura 13.1. iPhone requires iOS 16.2 and iPad requires iPadOS 16.2. All this is available in the latest update.
After installing the latest operating system, you need to enable the Freeform app to access iCloud. It seems like it should be the default, but since it uses storage, Apple makes it optional. The Garden Board uses about 13MB, while Apple includes 5GB of cloud storage for free. I could fit 384 similar Freeform boards in that much space if I wasn’t using iCloud for anything else. However, this can add up quickly and result in a higher monthly subscription cost.
Apple already had Apple, but the Freeform app is more inspiring, breaking away from Note’s overly structured look and giving plenty of places to start. For your next project, it’s worth checking out Freeform and seeing how quickly and easily they can get ideas moving.