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What is an active pen/stylus?

An active pen (available only for compatible devices) is a special stylus that allows for more natural handwriting. Usually an active pen supports:

  • pressure sensitive input
  • differentiating between pen and finger touch
  • one or more side buttons
  • detecting the pen hovering above the display
  • eraser tip on some active pens

Using an active pen with Squid allows for:

  • pressure sensitive (natural) handwriting
  • write with the pen, erase with your finger ¹
  • palm rejection by ignoring finger/hand touch when the pen is in range
  • hold the pen side button and flick left/right to undo/redo ²
  • hold the pen side button and flick up/down to access the tool picker/color picker  ²
  • use an alternate tool while holding the pen side button ¹ ²
  • erase using the opposite end of the pen ¹ ³
¹ Configurable in the Squid settings. 
² Unfortunately, the side button functionality does not work on Chromebooks.
³ Available on active pens with an eraser tip.

Active Pen Enabled Devices

Device manufacturers often have a branded active pen that is compatible with their devices. Some active pens can be used across devices from different manufacturers. This is because they use the same underlying active pen technology. There are currently two major active pen technologies for Android and Chromebooks: Wacom EMR and Wacom AES.

Wacom EMR

A Wacom EMR pen/stylus is powered wirelessly when near the screen and does not require a battery. Popular Wacom EMR pens include:
Popular Wacom EMR capable devices include:

Wacom AES

A Wacom AES pen/stylus must be self-powered either via a replaceable battery or non-replaceable power source (such as a rechargeable battery or capacitor). Popular Wacom AES pens include:
  • Pixelbook Pen
  • HP Chromebook x2 Pen
  • Lenovo Active Pen 2
Popular Wacom AES capable devices include:
  • Pixelbook
  • Pixel Slate
  • HP Chromebook x2


The NVIDIA DirectStylus is a passive stylus that has some functionality similar to an active pen.

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