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7 Ways to Write and Draw on a Non Touch Screen Laptop | 2023

7 Ways to Write and Draw on a Non Touch Screen Laptop | 2023

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If you want to write & draw on a non touch screen laptop, there are several solutions. For example, you can use a drawing app, a passive stylus & trackpad, or connect a drawing tablet or pad.

You can also use an iPad to draw and mirror the screen to the non-touchscreen laptop.

Alternatively, there are also free ways to write on a non touch screen laptop that I will cover in this post (this depends on what your needs are).

Also see: The 11 Best Laptops for Drawing & Digital Art

In addition, you can use a digital notebook, or a web app and your mouse to write (or draw) on a non-touchscreen laptop (whiteboard app, pdf editor, etc.).

Related: Best Wacom Tablets for Photo Editing & Photographers

1. Use a SmartPad to write on a non touch screen laptop

Use a SmartPad to write on a non touch screen laptop

If you are a fan of traditional note-taking or drawing, using a smart pad is the best solution when your on a laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen.

The methodology of connecting a digital notebook to your laptop without a touch screen is very simple: All you need to do is connect a device like the Wacom Bamboo Folio to your laptop, tablet or phone via Bluetooth.

Related: 10 Best Touch Screen Laptops for Drawing

Then you can just start writing or drawing on a clean piece of paper with a traditional pen, and the digital notebook will automatically digitize it and transfer it to your device.

Related: Touch Screen Cleaning: How to safely clean a laptop screen

Wacom Bamboo Folio

Wacom is the most popular brand for digitizers, drawing pads and high-end graphics tablets. In fact, you can draw and write on a non touch screen laptop by connecting this version of Wacom or by using the graphics tablet model: Wacom Intuos (very popular to write on non touch screen laptops).

I personally have tested using a graphics tablet with a stylus. Two brands I have used and found work well with a laptop is the wacom one or XP-Pen 12 Pro. These will turn your laptop into a device that you can draw on.

There is simply no better digital notebook on the market than Wacom’s latest Bamboo Folio. Using a user-friendly app called Inkspace, the Folio exports your notes to a variety of formats (JPG, PNG, PDF, WILL).

See our post: iPad vs Wacom: Which is better for Digital Art? (Full Review)

The device is highly accurate, and you will be able to digitize your notes or drawings in no time by simply touching a button.

2. Use a Stylus Pen for Non touch screen laptops

Use a Stylus Pen for Non touch screen laptops

Another smart thing to do is to use a combination of a passive stylus and your laptop’s trackpad. This is by far the cheapest solution as you only have to pay for an inexpensive stylus pen.

On the other hand, this solution is not the most accurate. The trackpads on most laptops are not very large, which is the main reason why drawing on them is not recommended.

Related: 7 Best Stylus Pens for Touch Screen Laptops

Still, any passive stylus is more accurate than your finger. Therefore, this combination is a great choice for taking occasional notes in apps like Microsoft One Note or Evernote.

There are basic stylus pens and then there are models that have Bluetooth technology and are considered active stylus. Active stylus pens typically require a secondary device that allows you to draw on your laptop with a pen because they allow you to use pressure sensitivity on apps like photoshop.

if you were using a MacBook, then you can either use a capacitive stylus pen such as the Mixoo, or use a drawing tablet for Mac. Optionally you can also use an iPad to draw on your MacBook through mirroring your screen with an app like duet display.

Mixoo: Best Stylus for Non Touch Screen Laptops

As mentioned earlier, using a passive stylus pen and your trackpad isn’t the most accurate or sensitive solution, but… it works. However, modern styluses like the one from Mixoo see it differently. In fact, at less than $10, this stylus is an amazing, affordable note-taking tool.

If you’re new to digital art or graphic design and how it works on a laptop, see our guide: How to draw on a laptop

The latest Mixoo stylus is fully compatible with all tablets and phones and does a fantastic job when it comes to writing on a trackpad. With three different tips, high-quality looks, and universal compatibility, it doesn’t get any better than this.

See our post: Do I Need an iPad if I Have an iPhone? (Is it Necessary)

3. Use a Graphics tablet attachment to draw on a non touch screen laptop

Use a Graphics tablet attachment to draw on a non touch screen laptop

You can draw directly on the screen of a drawing tablet, rather than a blank slate like a graphics tablet. this works well and provides the most intuitive writing and drawing benefits on a non-touchscreen laptop. The downside is that its the least cost effective option.

These types of drawing tablets come with a stylus and have their own software that can be installed on the computer or laptop you connect it to.

Related: 9 Best Non Touch Screen Laptops [Buyers guide]

As with smart digitizers like Bamboo Folio, graphics tablets are external devices that allow you to draw on a non touch screen laptop. In fact, this is the most popular solution preferred by both beginners and professionals. There are different graphics tablets for every budget and expertise.

See our post: 7 Best Drawing Tablets with Screen Built-in

With a drawing tablet like the XP Pen and Wacom Intuos (see below), you can easily draw and write digitally on a writing pad on any laptop or desktop. The methodology is quite simple as all you need to do is connect the tablet via Bluetooth or USB. This is one of the most advanced solutions when it comes to precision and overall performance.


XP-Pen is among the best-selling brands of digital graphics tablets and is commonly used to draw on non-touch screen laptops for note taking, drawing, and graphic art purposes.

The 2020 Star G640 is one of the most popular graphics tablets for beginners. It has a sufficient canvas size (4 x 3 inches) and a great stylus for drawing with 8192 pressure sensitivity levels. For all those reasons, this is a brilliant choice for writing notes or drawing on apps like Photoshop, Procreate, etc.

Related: How to Write on a Computer Screen with a Pen

Wacom Intuos

As with the XP-Pen reviewed above, Wacom Intuos has more than 11k positive reviews on Amazon. Wacom doesn’t need any introduction. As with all the brand’s products, the latest Intuos is a top-tier selection for beginners to professionals. The Wacom’s active area is somehow larger than the XP-Pen’s (6 x 3,7 inch), but the pen has half levels of pressure sensitivity (4096).

Related: 7 Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design

4. Use a Web App or an online whiteboard

Use a Web App or a online whiteboard

If you don’t want to purchase any type of external device or pen, there is a way around it. You can use your mouse or even your fingers (if not a passive stylus) on a trackpad. This is a reliable solution for digital whiteboard apps like Limnu or Google Keep. Therefore, this is a smart solution for those who don’t need anything more than casual note-taking. 

Related: 13 Best Online Whiteboards for Teaching, Remote work and Zoom

Limnu Whiteboard app

Limnu is one of the first and most popular whiteboard apps on the market. Due to its super simple user interface and experience, Limnu is one of the best ways to write and draw on a non-touchscreen laptop. With Limnu, all you have to do is use your mouse or fingers on the trackpad. The whiteboard has numerous correction tools that will help you write and sketch without a stylus. 

Related: 11 Best Digital Whiteboards for Classrooms & Business

Google Keep

Google Keep is a note keeping and organizing service offered by Google since 2013. This app is fantastic for creating, sorting, and jotting down your notes instantly. For this reason, it is one of the best ways to write and draw on your non-touchscreen laptop. Google Keep is a smart solution for those who want a quick way to keep notes using your mouse, trackpad, or keyboard.

Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft One note is another super popular online whiteboard. This app is extremely useful for creating personalized notes, drawings, and diagrams in no time. The app also allows you to collaborate with your team instantly, share your notes, or host video conferences. For this reason, this is an all-rounder app for writing and drawing on a non touch screen pad. 

Notes app (Apple)

For those of you who own a MacBook without a touchscreen, the Notes app is the best way to go. Notes app is already pre-installed on all Apple desktops and laptops.

Thus, you don’t have to worry about downloading or purchasing it. The user experience is ultimately easy, and there is no learning curve.

However, if you wanted to draw on Macbook specifically, then there are very good drawing tablets for mac that we’ve tested and were reliable as well as had the proper precision and pressure levels.

Related: Can an iPad Replace a Laptop for a College Student?

5. Scan Written Notes into Text to Write on a Laptop Screen

Scan Written Notes into Text to Write on a Laptop Screen

Another way to transfer your notes and drawings to your non-touchscreen laptops is by using scanner apps like CamScanner. This type of app allows you to use your mobile phone as a PDF scanner. Likewise, the methodology is pretty simple. All you have to do is:

  1. Download a scanner app to your phone
  2. Scan and save your notes or drawings as PDF files
  3. Transfer them to your laptop via Bluetooth, Google Drive, iCloud, etc.


From all the scanner apps, we could find CamScanner to prove to be the most reliable choice. The app is pretty easy to use and learn, and the scan quality is one of the best in the market. This is a fantastic way to transfer your notes and drawings to your laptop quickly and efficiently. Once you have the PDF or JPG file on your laptop, you can even use an optical character recognition app (OCR) like Office Lens and manipulate it accordingly.

Adobe Scan 

This is an amazing alternative to CamScanner. In fact, Adobe Scan does more than one job. This app doesn’t only scan your notes or drawings. With its integrated OCR technology, Adobe Scan allows you to also extract your notes into doc files (like Microsoft Word). Thus, this is a perfect all-rounder for scanning written notes into text.  

Related: 9 Best Laptops for Architecture Students

6. Drawing tablet with screen: Draw directly on a display with a non touch screen laptop

Drawing tablet with screen_ Draw directly on a display with a non touch screen laptop

With this type of tablet, you can draw directly on the screen, rather than a blank slate like a standard graphic tablet. this works well and provides the most natural writing/drawing movements on a touchscreen laptop. It’s more expensive than other options available.

These types of drawing tablets come with a stylus and have their own software that can be installed on the computer or laptop you connect it to

Related: 9 Best Non Touch Screen laptops [Buyers guide]

From all the solutions examined in this article, this is definitely the most advanced one. Purchasing a drawing tablet with a screen is an amazing solution for writing and drawing on a non-touchscreen laptop. The methodology is similar to drawing tablets without a screen. Like the Wacom Intuos reviewed above.

See our post: 6 Best Apps to Convert Handwriting to Text on iPad and iPhone

The main difference is that drawing tablets like Gaomon have an integrated display. That means that after you connect the tablet with your laptop, you can draw and write straight on the display of your drawing tablet. Although this type of device offers a top-tier experience, this is also the most expensive solution.


Gaomon is one of the most popular drawing tablets with a display, offered at a reasonable price. This model has an 11,6-inch tilt support display and an amazing pen with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. Thus, the Gaomon PD1161 is the most advanced way to draw on a non-touchscreen laptop. 


We already mentioned that XP-Pen is one of the most reliable brands for drawing tablets. The same situation also applies to advanced drawing monitors. With its brand new Artist12, the brand has created an affordable drawing tablet with a display without compromising quality. The full HD 11,6-inch display feels fantastic, and the pen is great.

See our post: 7 Best Laptops for Animation Students

We’ve also tested Xencelabs, which worked well for those who are artists, rather than those who are just looking to draw on a non-touch screen laptop. It still works as an alternative, but is not for those on a budget.

7. Document Camera: draw & write on a non touch screen laptop for teaching

Document Camera_ draw and write on a non touch screen laptop for teaching

Last but not least, using a document camera is a brilliant way to transfer your drawings and notes on a non-touchscreen laptop. Contrary to what many people believe, learning how to use a document camera is very easy. All you need to do is purchase a document camera, use an app like IPEVO, and transfer any physical writing onto your laptop screen. 

If you’re using iPad, then you’ll also want an adjustable document camera stand to make it easier to get the above, helicopter style observation for the class.

See the Top 7 Benefits of a Touchscreen laptop: Pros and cons

Once you have the document camera and its app, the steps are straightforward:

  1. Plug in your camera via USB or Bluetooth (input device)
  2. Open the visualizer software on your laptop
  3. Select the document camera as the source
  4. Place your notes or drawings under the camera
  5. Take a picture. You are good to go!

Related: How to Use an old Tablet as a Digital Picture Frame


Okiocam S is one of the most popular document cameras on the market. The camera is specially created for remote learning and video conferencing. Still, due to its super high definition quality (1440p), this is an amazing way to transfer your written notes into your non-touchscreen laptop.

How can I write on my laptop with a pen

There are different ways for you to use a pen and write on a non touch screen laptop. You can either: 

  1. Use a passive pen and write on your laptop’s trackpad (no connection needed)
  2. Connect your laptop to a drawing pad like XP-Pen or Wacom Intuos via Bluetooth or USB. Those devices will operate as active canvas and automatically transfer the pen’s movements onto your screen
  3. Connect your laptop to a drawing tablet with a screen via Bluetooth or USB. This is very similar to the previous solution, with the difference that these advanced tablets have integrated displays for you to write or draw on.

Related: 9 Best Stylus for Drawing on Android Devices

How to make a non touch screen laptop touchscreen

For you to make your laptop touchscreen, there are two different ways. You can either use a graphic tablet or a drawing tablet. Both solutions work similarly.

Thus, a graphic tablet or drawing tablet operates as a touchscreen surface that you can use for replacing your non-touchscreen display. The gestures and movements from the surface will be automatically transferred onto your laptop screen. 

Which one is better for drawing on a touchscreen: A laptop stylus or drawing on a Wacom tablet?

As with most debates of this kind, the answer depends on your personal needs. Thus, if you need to casually keep some notes, then using a passive stylus and your trackpad is the best solution. On the flip side, Wacom tablets are generally better for advanced drawings and more complex projects. Of course, all drawing tablets are a few times more expensive than a simple laptop stylus.

How to Write & Draw on a Non-touch screen laptop

The most common method of writing or drawing on a laptop without a screen is by utilizing a graphics tablet or a camera app and mouse.

Here’s how you can write on a non-touch screen laptop:

  1. First, take your Graphics tablet and connect it to your laptop
  2. Install any drivers necessary as per the graphics tablet provided
  3. Next, locate the stylus and adjust the settings using its software.
  4. Finally, begin drawing and writing using your favorite drawing or note taking app.

This will work both non touch screen and also touch screen devices.

There are also reMarkable and Alternative devices to help you write and draw, and then transfer to your laptop.

Can you write on a screen of a laptop? (non touch screen)

Can you write on a screen of a laptop non touch screen

Yes, there’s three ways: Drawing apps like Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Digital whiteboard apps, and using a drawing tablet and a stylus. Alternatively you can also mirror an iPad’s contents to your non-touchscreen laptop.

Can you use a stylus on a non-touch screen laptop

Can you use a stylus on a non touch screen laptop

I also get the question “Can I use a stylus pen on a non-touchscreen laptop?” and the answer is yes and you’ll need a specific type if you’re going to use the trackpad with a budget stylus. There’s also other ways I’ll explain below.

  • For example, you can use an active or capactive stylus, but you’ll need to attach a drawing tablet or graphics tablet.
  • You can also use a regular tablet like an iPad with an apple pencil stylus that is mirrored to your tablet. 
  • Using a cheap stylus on the trackpad also works, but the non touch screen laptop’s trackpad must be able to sense the stylus and not all stylus promise this.

Bottom Line

Writing on a laptop that is non-touch screen can be done through various methods. Which you choose will depend on what you need… if you’re a teacher or student, then you may want to consider using a stylus on a the trackpad since its more portable.

If you’re utilizing it for work or for art to draw, then you’ll likely want to go with a graphics tablet or a pen tablet to enable handwritten notes and writing.

About the author:

Photo of Paul Michael, Founder of MediaPeanut

Paul Michael

Paul Michael is a media and technology expert whose research reveals how technology and media are being used in the world today. He has expertise on computers, the internet, streaming, Roku, electronics, and education. He also enjoys graphic design & digital art. Paul has his Bachelors of Arts and Science(s) from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, NJ