Using Ink with a Tablet (MacBook)

Typing on a keyboard can be a tedious and error-prone experience for even the best typists. To help out, Apple added some useful handwriting features to Mac OS X. Based in part on some of Apple’s handheld software for the Newton (one of the first personal digital assistants [PDAs] and a product released before its time), the handwriting recognition in Mac OS X gives you the ability to write text on a compatible tablet for use in your favorite applications.

The basic process of working with handwriting on Mac OS X goes like this:

1. Attach a tablet to your MacBook.
Most tablets use a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection, so connecting one to your computer is as simple as plugging in the cable from your tablet to a USB port on your MacBook.
2. Write on the tablet with the stylus that accompanies it.
A stylus is the name given the fake “pen” that accompanies most tablets. A stylus doesn’t have any ink in it: It’s just a pen-shaped tool with a plastic tip meant for writing on a tablet.
3. Your MacBook interprets your handwriting.
After your laptop recognizes the handwriting, it sends that text to the foremost application at the cursor location where you would normally type with the keyboard. You’re spared the whole training bit, too.
You aren’t restricted to writing just text on the tablet, naturally. You can use it to control the interface of your MacBook as you would a mouse. A tablet also works great for graphics applications, such as Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. Many artists are frustrated when drawing with a mouse; when you use a tablet, though, you can feel right at home with the natural pen or brush movements that you’ve always used, and you can vary the pressure on the pad to control the density and spread of a stroke.
Although Snow Leopard takes care of handwriting recognition, it does offer you a few settings in the Ink pane within System Preferences. To view the System Preferences, click the System Preferences icon in the Dock. From there, click the Ink icon to adjust settings for your tablet.
If you don’t have a tablet connected to your MacBook, you can’t view the System Preferences pane for Ink. Mac OS X is smart enough to show you only the settings for your current hardware setup.

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