Freehand Preview Pen Missing


Essentially preview has two pens - the shape pen, if you will, one which has automatic shape detection and will smooth out your shapes and lines after you draw them, and the freehandpen, one which is freehand, and can vary in thickness depending on the pressure applied to a (force) trackpad.

Why do we use the freehand pen? Well, put simply, personally I find that often the shape detection on the shape pen can get in the way of drawing what you intended, and at some point the frustration of having to switch back to the original drawing in the tab that appears on the top right can be annoying and makes you use the freehand.


A few hours ago the freehand tool disappeared. Yesterday I was using it fine, now it is gone.

I've also noticed (though I'm not sure if its always been there) that there is now an ability to make a note on the doc. You can see the disappearance of the pen below (on a PDF doc):

What I see

Is this indicative of some preview update which has removed the freehand pen?

How can I get the freehand pen back?

1 Answer 1


I was a fan of the freehand draw tool as well, because on Stack Exchange we always use freehand circles*, so I was displeased when the sketch tool started to 'autocorrect' my freehand shapes; it was always possible to use the original but that required an extra click. For me, this behaviour started long ago (3 or 4 years). I had never seen the option you mentioned, two different pens.

But as of a few weeks, the 'Draw' tool is back (the blue circle), and it provides freehand drawing once more (the red circle):

enter image description here

I have an M1 MacBook Pro (2020) running on macOS Big Sur 11.5.2. Interestingly, on my Intel MacBook Pro from 2013, running the same OS version, Preview doesn't have the Draw tool. It might be related to the old one not having a Force Touch Trackpad.

*: actually, they're often more like ellipses or rounded rectangles...

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