How to use Photoshop with Air Stylus


(this image inspired by Kylli Sparre’s beautiful work on the Photoshop CC 2014 splash screen)

There are a few tricks to getting Air Stylus to work correctly with Photoshop CS 5.x, 6.x, and CC.

Thing 1 – Check your Preferences: 

In the Photoshop “Performance” preferences, set the Advanced “Use Graphics Processor” settings to Basic.

  1. First click to open the Photoshop menu, hover over Preferences and choose PerformancePS-prefs-performance
  2. Toward the bottom right, look for the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox. If it isn’t checked, your computer might not have a dedicated graphics processor so you’re done. Air Stylus works fine in this scenario.
  3. Press the “Advanced Settings” button and choose either Basic or Normal (text descriptions of each setting pop up to offer the benefits and tradeoffs of each as you hover over them)PS-prefs-performance-advanced

Thing 2 – Applying Pressure:

Photoshop has four brush options for how it handles pressure – opacity, flow, “airbrush style, and brush size. Brush size must be enabled to see effects of using a pressure sensitive stylus, but the other ones are worth experimenting with to find your ideal setting.


Thing 3 – Getting a “Preview” screen like in our Air Stylus video:

This is a somewhat hidden but very cool Photoshop feature called Navigator that’s somehow been in there since about 2001.

  1. In Photoshop, click on the “Window” menu and then select Navigator to open its thumbnail preview tabPS-window-navigator
  2. Drag the Navigator palette free of the main Photoshop window and resize it by clicking and dragging out the lower right corner of its windowPS-window-navigator-resize
4 replies
  1. Kerim Fahara
    Kerim Fahara says:

    Hello, I want to know how to use my ipad air as a drawing tablet in photoshop, I have followed each step but I can’t draw using this.

  2. Bart
    Bart says:

    Hi, I just purchased air display 3 last night and already love it! I think I am correct that air stylus is a part of air display, correct? I have a Wacom stylus that came with the small tablet (stylus 2 I think though it differs from your photo in that it does not have the silver ring near the tip but a black one.) When I touch the pen pad only iPad I get the selection window. I choose wacom but I have a status saying no devices found. Ensure that pairing is enabled on you stylus. My finger works in the test area but the stylus does noting. I can not find any way to put the stylus into pairing mode. Do I need a different stylus? other software? What do I need to do to get this very cool feature to work? Thanks.

  3. sex
    sex says:

    Heya just wanted to giv you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet brwsers andd both shhow the same outcome.

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