New 'writing canvas' feature comes to Windows 10's Mail app

Writing inside Mail

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Pen users can now write directly inside the compose window in Mail.
  • There's a drawing canvas that let's you draw inside emails too.

A new feature, first spotted by ALumia that allows pen users to write emails directly inside the Mail app on Windows 10 has started rolling out on PCs with inking capabilites. If you're a pen user, you can enable the feature while composing an email, with options for either a writing canvas or drawing canvas.

This new feature falls perfectly in line with Microsoft's focus on digital ink on Windows 10, and feels great to use on pen-orientated devices like a Microsoft Surface Pro. Just like in other ink-enabled areas, writing inside the Mail app uses the same gestures and auto-correct systems found elsewhere, meaning you can do things such as draw a line through a word to remove it, replace letters on the fly, and more.

It's likely that this feature will shine primarily on devices like the Surface Neo and Windows 10X when that launches later this year, however existing PCs with pen support can also use the feature. It appears to be rolling out slowly, so if you don't see it inside the compose window in the Mail app yet, you'll likely see it soon.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • This screams Windows 10X/Neo. Great to stsrt seeing features like this popping up already.
  • You mean Edge OS? ;-)
  • I'm pretty sure this has been there for months. I'm getting the feeling that nobody really uses a pen with Windows. I find that it is actually harder to use than the standard input panel if you have to correct something. It is far from natural. :(
    I cringe inside with the comments about a focus on digital ink as the new Edge chromium browser still doesn't recognize Pen taps on text boxes or the address bar to present an input panel (and I have been reporting it as an issue for months (again).
  • I think what has been there already is the drawing canvas, not the writing canvas.
  • I use inking in Windows daily, mostly for OneNote and marking up pdfs. I see many people on my college campus doing the same. But the problems with pen input not being universally recognized even in Microsoft's own apps has been a bit annoying, I admit. And yes there was a drawing canvas but I only saw the writing input system today after an update.
  • I just gave it a quick try...and it's wonderful!!! Good work, Microsoft!
  • I think this is great. I don't think I'll use it all that much though - I'd rather type emails. But I think this is part of a recognition that keyboards aren't always available or are less convenient in some contexts, the latter something I come across often with a Surface Pro.
  • Great gif BTW. It shows the feature perfectly.
  • I received a new version today but don't use Inking. However, I no longer have the option for Focused vs Other inbox.
  • That has disappeared for me as well.
  • "However, I no longer have the option for Focused vs Other inbox." That is a bug and is already fixed. Coming in the next update, from what I have read elsewhere.
  • Is someone still able to swipe to the sides on the trackpad to delete or do whatever to the emails? I used to be able to, but I can't since A LONG TIME and they've never fixed it.
  • So I tried it out and it works surprisingly well. One thing that is really missing is support for the eraser on the back of the Surface Pen. With the software keyboard's pen input, you can erase words with it. That's more natural than crossing things out - and more reliable.
  • You could always ink to text from the handwriting pane on the onscreen keyboard. This just seems to take up more room.
  • I think this is about not breaking your flow. You could just do a few taps and have the keyboard do all the inking, but it's a lot easier and faster to just take out your pen and start inking.
  • Love it! Windows 10 is the only thing (including people) that actually understands my so-called handwriting! So this is awesome!
  • Perfect for Surface Duo.
  • Why does Microsoft always ruin everything with a stupid name? Other than the name, you’re right. This would be perfect for Surface Duo.
  • I hope this also comes to Outlook. As Microsoft's premium mail application for Exchange users, Outlook should always be everything in mail, plus more. Never less.
  • Been trying to get used to the Windows 10 mail app instead of thunderbird, but I just don't like the way it works, having to click on the account and then the folders to see what is in them, in thunderbird I can see the folers for all the accounts I have. I think I will go back to Thunderbird, I do not use inking for anything, I have a graphics pad connected to my computer, but I do not use it for that.
  • This feature is 10-15 years old. Even in 2005 with Windows 2005 tablet edition it existed as a addon for outlook and outlook calendar. In excel there was a plugin to fill in cells. This project has come and gone over the years. The last time I saw this feature demoed for the outlook windows 10 uwp mail app was on a channel 9 demo video. It look quite polished then already. It look like it could come to windows 10 already back then, but never surfaced, even on the Surface devices or Insiders. To see it 5 years later, feels like a lackluster reveal. This feature is already very useful on windows 10 today, and not merely something for duo or neo devices. This feature is great for any windows 10 tablet pc device to date or in the last 10 years. 2 years ago they already announced support for inline inking anywhere. I've seen little progress over time with that feature. This is the first demo in a while that shows this. Delay is probably due to management decisions, would be my guess.
    I think the biggest hurdle to make this an awsome experience is to be better able to recognize chicken scratch handwriting to text. Currently it works best for the end user to conform to a level of handwriting that the software can recognize. If advanced recognition software could be enhanced to better recognize based on end user samples, I think more users would find it more intuitive to use digital handwriting more, as we all have started from our first day at school with paper and pencil/pen.