“One by Wacom” Tablet and macOS native apps

Hello everyone. I’m seeking some advice.

I keep not buying an iPad because the only functionality I am seeking is to be able to mark-up documents – usually PDFs – using a stylus instead of a mouse. (I had an older iPad for another purpose and it just wasn’t my cup o’tea – and I just sold it on Mercari to a very happy mom!)

I’m happy to use the tools already built into the apps, such as the Markup tools in Preview – I don’t do creative tasks that require fancy pressure-sensitivity drawing and other features not already in the usual feature sets of Preview (for example). Really, truly – I just want to use a stylus instead of a mouse on my MacBook Pro now and then.

Today I stumbled across the One by Wacom simple tablet, and it seems to be exactly what I need – just a simple tablet. However, a bit of poking around revealed that lots of folks can’t seem to be able to use Wacom tablets in native macOS apps, such as in Preview to do basic mark-ups or in Keynote or Pages to do, well, to do much of anything.

Two questions for you all:

  • Have any of you had success with Wacom tablets to do what I seek to do?
  • Do you have any suggestions about how I might do what I want to do without buying an iPad?

Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.


I have a One by Wacom tablet. It’s a decent basic, starter tablet.

It runs as a USB input device, configured via a System Preferences plug in, the same way a Kensington or Logitech mouse might. I’ve never encountered an app that it wasn’t compatible with on that level. It comes with a USB-A cable; I’ve connected it to USB-C via both direct adapters and a hub with no issues.

Unlike most Wacom devices, the One by Wacom doesn’t need any special routines to use in Mac apps, just its System Preferences plug-in. Higher-end Wacom tablets frequently have lots of additional special capabilities that require more cooperation from the apps to work properly.

The only actual special feature in the One by Wacom is pressure-sensitivity, which works as expected in common apps such as the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. I’ve never had an issue with an app that should recognize pressure-sensitivity not doing so, but 95% of my usage of that is in Photoshop and Illustrator, which work predictably (at least, in Catalina on my 2019 16" MBP).

Here’s the tricky thing about the One by Wacom, the likely cause of a lot of the complaints about it:

Wacom makes three completely different tablets called “One”, and they require different drivers (at least, they did a year ago when I bought mine). This is not easy to determine from Wacom’s included documentation or web site.

In addition to this basic “One by Wacom”, they also make the “Wacom One” and the “Bamboo One”. These latter two are fairly high-end tablets for professional artists.

If you search Wacom drivers for just “One”, you will get listings for all three of these all jumbled together. Make sure you download and install the driver package for the “One by Wacom”.

If you install the correct driver, you shouldn’t have much difficulty with the tablet. If you’re not used to using a non-screen tablet, it will take practice, but it behaves pretty much the same way as other non-screen tablets.

Thank you very, very much, Mark, for the helpful, thoughtful and detailed reply. Wow – fantastic. What a great community we have here.

If you have a moment when you are next at your computer, would you mind taking a minute to open a PDF in Preview and seeing if you can (using the built-in Markup tools) add text boxes and shapes, and change their colors and attributes a bit, using your One by Wacom tablet? That’s my expected usage. I know it sounds dull but I do it all the time!

Thanks again… very cool of you to reply so quickly and helpfully.


Quick follow-up: After using the One by Wacom tablet for a couple of hours, I returned it to Amazon for a refund. It not only did not do what I needed to do (even accounting for the mouse/trackpad-to-pen tablet learning curve), it started to mess up other things that had been working fine on my computer, interfering with other tasks surprisingly. It was an afternoon of increasing stress and frustration, lots of time watching “how to” YouTube videos (the video on the Wacom page did not work) and reading “how to” blog posts and articles by well-meaning netizens.

My MacBook Pro is my work computer and has been doing its job well for 3½+ years, and I can’t risk damaging my workflow for what would have been a “nice to have” improvement (also the reason I’m still on macOS Catalina, once considered a “dog’s breakfast” of a macOS release yet now wonderful stable, familiar, usable and reliable).

@Quantumpanda, thanks again for the great answer and support.

FWIW and if you still feel like pursuing a tablet option, I’ve been using the Wacom Intuos for years with no problems et all. I’ve used it in almost every app from TextEdit to Photoshop, Illustrator, Modo, etc and it simply works, so I’m sure it will do everything you are looking for. It even has pressure sensitivity and some buttons on the tablet you can program. Mine is the Intuos BT-S model, but I believe it’s discontinued or they’ve changed/upgraded it with another name. Also, very inexpensive…less than 80 dollars.


Thanks very much, Javier. I’ll keep that all in mind. Maybe the big problem for me is that it had no screen and I’m not used to using a pen versus a mouse.