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Surfaces: Drawing, Diagramming, & Ideating

Surface pages are a flexible medium for brainstorming, note-taking, wireframing, mind-mapping, planning, and so much more. They allow you to write, sketch, and embed media on an infinite canvas. They're powerful, but also incredibly easy to use.
Use Surfaces to visualize ideas and organize spatially.

Learn the Tools

Surfaces feature a number of tools for creating and editing content. Most of them can be accessed via the Toolbar or with a keyboard shortcut.

Surface Quick Add /

  • Press / while not editing text to pull up the menu or click the + button in the Toolbar.
  • Use the arrow keys or start typing to search through various blocks (including types that do not have their own tool in the Toolbar). Use this to insert sticky notes, shapes, frames, swatches, equations, and more.
  • Search results will also include hundreds of icons to insert.

Selection V

  • Hold to select multiple elements.
  • Hold Alt and drag to duplicate selected elements.
  • Click and drag to draw a selection net that will select all elements within the area.
  • Double-click an open area of the Surface to create a new text element.
  • Click a selected text layer to start editing the text.

Text T

  • Click anywhere on the Surface to create a new text element with an automatic width.
  • Click and drag to draw a text element with a set width and word wrapping.

Sticky Note N

  • Press N to create a new Sticky and quickly brainstorm ideas.
  • Use the quick add buttons to place new Stickies to the right or below the current one.
  • You can also color-code your Stickies and use inline formatting.
    Sticky Notes are great for brainstorming ideas.

Pencil P

  • Use the Pencil palette to change color and stroke width.
  • Click and drag to draw paths.
  • Hold while drawing a path to convert it to a straight line and constrain it to 45° angles.
    Use the Pencil Toolbar to set width and color

Eraser E

  • Click and drag across the Surface to delete any paths your eraser passes over.

Line L

  • Click and drag to draw a line.
  • Drag one of the ends of a line on top of an element to connect the line to the element. If the element moves, the line will automatically update to continue pointing to it.
  • Connect a line to the middle of an element to have it connect to the nearest side. Connect to an edge of an element to fix it to that side.
  • Lines can be set to straight or curved.
  • Disconnect a line from an element by selecting it and dragging its handle to an empty area of the Surface.

Shape R

  • Click the Shape Tool button to open the Shape Toolbar to change shapes.
  • Click and drag to draw a new shape.
  • Hold while drawing to constrain proportions.


  • Will open a dialog to import one or many images. Currently supports popular formats like .jpg, .gif, and .png.

Frame F

  • Click the Frame Tool button to open the Frame Toolbar to create a predefined frame size.
  • Click and drag to draw a custom Frame around content.
  • Hold while drawing to constrain proportions.


  • Click and drag to move the Surface.
  • Hold Spacebar with any other tool selected to temporarily activate the Pan Tool.

Zoom Hold Z

  • Hold-Z and Click to Zoom In.
  • Hold-AltZ and Click to Zoom Out.
  • + to Zoom In.
  • - to Zoom Out.
  • 0 to set Zoom to 100%.
  • 1 to Zoom to Fit all contents.
  • 2 to Zoom to Fit current selection.

Diagram with Shapes and Smart Lines

  1. Select the Rectangle Tool R and click and drag on the canvas to draw.
  2. With the shape still selected, click it to start typing inside the shape.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create another shape with text.
  4. Select the Line Tool L. Click and drag from one of the shapes to the other. This will draw a line between the two shapes. If you move one of the shapes, the line will update to keep it connected.
  5. You can disconnect the line by selecting it and dragging one of its points away from the shape. You can also connect it to a different side or the center of a shape.
    Smart Lines are great for diagrams and mind-maps.
  1. Copy a URL from your browser or elsewhere.
  2. Open a Surface doc.
  3. Press CtrlV to paste. Clover will analyze the link and determine if the content can be unfurled into an interactive media component or fallback to a link card. Supported interactive blocks include YouTube, Figma, SoundCloud, and more.
    Paste in links and Clover will either make a card or an interactive widget.

Make a presentation with Frames

  1. Open or create a Surface with different areas of interest.
  2. Select the Frame Tool F.
  3. Click and drag on the canvas to draw a frame around a particular area.
  4. Click the "Untitled Frame" input in the Edit Bar and rename the frame.
  5. Create other frames on your surface around important areas.
  6. Click the Frame List icon in the upper-right corner.
  7. Click and drag the frames in the list to reorder them.
  8. Click the Play button in the header. This will jump you to Presentation Mode where you can cycle forward and back through the list of frames you created. Use the arrow keys for quick navigation or use the Frame List to jump directly to a frame.
    Easily turn your work into a presentation using Frames.

Stay organized with Drag & Drop

  1. Create a couple of text blocks.
  2. Double-click to edit one of the text blocks.
  3. Use the drag handles to move a block from one element to another.
    Stay organized with intuitive drag & drop features.