The Surface Pen is a mighty tool that lets you get more done on your Surface PC. To really maximize the Surface Pen's ability, there are some essential apps you should check out. From note-taking to form-filling to coloring, here are the best apps to grab if you love using your Surface Pen.

Pro drawing tools

Autodesk SketchBook

If you were holding out on Autodesk SketchBook because of the price, you can now get the full version — including the Pro tools — for free. This is one of the best drawing and sketching apps for pretty much anyone, with a wide selection of brushes, surfaces, tools, and features to choose from.

Free at Microsoft


Zen: Coloring book for adults

If you just scoffed at the idea of coloring books for adults, please give this a try before the scoffing continues. The free version of the app has a relatively large selection of images to transform, and if you decide to pony up for the full version, you'll have an almost limitless selection of coloring options.

Free at Microsoft

Take control of PDFs

Drawboard PDF

Drawboard PDF is regarded as one of the best PDF apps available, thanks to an enormous selection of tools, a document builder that lets you merge multiple PDFs, annotations that can be calibrated for scale, and a large number of grid and line templates. If you're often working with PDF files in a professional environment, Drawboard PDF should be near the top of your list.

$10 at Microsoft

Write music with ease


Musicians out there, take notice: StaffPad is an app designed for Surface that makes it incredibly easy to annotate music. As you handwrite your music, it's automatically and precisely converted into an engraved score. Once you finish writing, let StaffPad play back your creation with its full orchestra of instruments.

$70 at Microsoft

True paper feel

Bamboo Paper

The first time you touch your Surface Pen to the screen with Bamboo Paper open, you'll wonder just how they made it seem so much like real paper. Take notes using the six writing tools, add pictures to your pages and write over them, and share your ideas with others using Bamboo Paper on other platforms.

Free at Microsoft

Multipurpose inking


Sketchable is a free (with paid upgrades) drawing, sketching, and painting app that has been designed with the Surface Pen in mind. Not only can you use Sketchable for notes or to work on existing images and artwork, use it to create an entirely new work of art thanks to its wide array of tools. If you have even a bit of creativity in you, this app will be hard to put down.

Free at Microsoft

Get organized

Index Cards

There's just something about a stack of index cards that makes you feel like you've got your life in order. Both sides of cards can be marked up with your pen, and a zoom function lets you jam quite a bit of information onto each card. Cards and stacks of cards can be shared with others, and there's no limit to the number of cards you can create.

Free at Microsoft

Digital whiteboard


For those of you who commonly involved in team projects, CollaBoard is an app that works with your Surface device and the Microsoft Hub. It's best described as a digital whiteboard that multiple users can contribute to, all in real time. With Skype for Business integration and compatibility with PDF, images, videos, and more, the whiteboard can really become the central pivot point of your larger project.

Free at Microsoft

Digital notebook


Microsoft's own free note-taking app syncs across all your devices, but it really shines when you add the Surface Pen. Take notes on blank or grid backgrounds, highlight text or draw pictures using various tools, then easily sync with OneDrive to keep your notes with you wherever you go.

Free at Microsoft

Read and edit PDFs


This amazing PDF reader and editor is completely free, which is frankly surprising considering what you're getting here. Just open a PDF file and you're given free reign over what you can do. Write all over it, highlight the important bits, and save it as a new file. This is especially useful for quickly filling out those annoying forms that you usually have to type information into.

Free at Microsoft

If we're making some suggestions

Thanks to most of the above apps having at least some sort of free version, you can give them a try essentially risk-free to see if they'll come in handy. Wondering exactly where to start? Bamboo Paper is a lot of fun to use as it closely resembles real paper and gives your Surface Pen an interesting feel, while Sketchable provides a robust set of tools that can be used for many purposes.