Getting set up to use BitPaper

This page is to help our students get up and running with BitPaper. If you think this information looks complicated, don’t worry! All you really need to get started are Steps 1, 2 and 4. Everything else is simply to improve and enhance your BitPaper experience. Remember, it’s our job to teach you things you didn’t know you needed to know, and which make you better off for knowing them. 😊

Please understand that BitPaper is changing rapidly at the moment, so the way it works on one day might be different to how it works the next day. I will try my best to keep these instructions up to date.

  1. You should have already been sent a link to your very own BitPaper.  This link is like your exercise book, so please treat it like your personal property and don’t share it with anyone outside your family, because anyone who has the link can go to your BitPaper at any time and scribble on it!
  2. Open your BitPaper in Chrome, Safari or Firefox.  BitPaper is optimized for Google Chrome, so please use it if you have it.  To improve performance, BitPaper recommends closing any unused browser tabs and keeping your computer plugged in (i.e. not running on battery power).
  3. A User Guide window used to appear when you first opened up your BitPaper. If it doesn’t appear and this is your first time using BitPaper, or you’d simply like to see it again, click on the Menu button (bottom LH corner, or hotkey “m”) and select User Guide.  A small window should appear with three tabs at the top: Video, Useful Tips and Manual.  When you have finished, click Close (bottom RH corner) to reveal your BitPaper underneath.


  4. Your tutor will either initiate a call through BitPaper, OR they may send you a link to a Jitsi Meet video call outside of BitPaper. Currently, Jitsi Meet is our preferred option.
    • To join a Jitsi Meeting, open up the link in a separate tab OR you can download the Jitsi Meet app to your phone.  If you are using Jitsi in your web browser, you will need to tile the video windows (click on button with four squares, bottom RH corner) and resize the meeting window so that you have room to see your BitPaper.  For example:

      [On my screen, I was able to make the Jitsi window narrower than this, but I couldn’t get the tiles to sit on top of each other – let me know if you find a better solution!]

    • To join a call through BitPaper, you will need to log in first. We recommend logging in using a Google/Gmail account if you have one, and then you won’t have to set up a new BitPaper account and remember another password.  Since the start of April 2020, BitPaper has moved to a subscription-based service.  If you are asked to subscribe, you should go onto the free Student plan.


      Next, go to the Communications Panel (click on the handset button, or hotkey “c”) and click on the green “Join Call” button in the top LH corner.  If you get an error message, reload the entire page in your web browser. 


      Optionally, after the call has started, you can drag the video windows onto your BitPaper and close the Communications Panel (if you want to see more of your BitPaper).

      There is also a Chat facility, but be careful what you type as messages cannot be deleted!  Also, it’s difficult to know when someone has sent a message through Chat if the Communications Panel is not open.  Leaving a message on your BitPaper might be safer.

  5. It’s not the end of the world if your camera isn’t working, but it is very difficult to have a good lesson if your audio isn’t working. If you are having microphone trouble, these links might help (even if you are using a different web browser or operating system, because there are bound to be similar settings that you can check):
  6. Hopefully you’re ready to start working on your BitPaper now! The toolbar at the bottom has a range of useful buttons, the most useful ones being the Pen and the Text tools:
    • (Hotkey “2”) Colour (and eraser size) settings for your writing and text. Please choose black or blue, just as you would use a black or blue pen in your exercise book.
    • (Hotkey “1”) Pen and ruler. To use the ruler, click on the tiny ruler on top of the Pen button or hold down the shift key as you draw.
      [Don’t worry, I have already requested that the Colour and Pen buttons should swap positions to match their hotkeys!]
    • (Hotkey “3”) Eraser. Avoid using this tool, especially if there are images on your BitPaper.  To undo something you have just done, type “z”.  However, be careful!  BitPaper is a very “sharey” whiteboard, so you may end up undoing something that your tutor has just written!
    • (Hotkey “4”) Select tool. You can select a single object or a group of objects and move or resize them.  To resize without changing the proportions, hold down the shift key as you drag the corner of the select rectangle.
    • (Hotkey “5”) Panning tool. This allows you to move your (infinitely large) BitPaper around your screen.  Again, be careful!  If your tutor is working with you at the time, both of you need to communicate with each other before moving your BitPaper.
    • (Hotkey “6”) Shapes. Click on the tiny circular arrows on top of the Shapes button to open up the Shape Library.
    • (Hotkey “7”) Text.  If you don’t have a digital pen, text is going to be the fastest way for you to communicate your maths to your tutor.

      For powers, you can use “^” (shift-6 on most keyboards), but there are also little “2” and “3” symbols available for “squared” and “cubed”.

      For fractions, you can type the numerator, then shift- to move to the next line without a space between the lines, then type the denominator underneath the numerator.  To draw the fraction line, leave the text editor by pressing the Esc key and then draw a straight line using the ruler tool (see above).  Alternatively, you can use “/” as your fraction line if you want to type everything on one line, but make sure you put curly brackets around the numerator and the denominator if they are more than just one character.

      To edit your text, use the select tool (hotkey 4) and double click on the text.  (Clicking on the text when you’re in text mode doesn’t work!)
      [Don’t worry, I have already requested that the “Symbols|Font size|Done” menu should sit below the text area!]

  7. BitPaper was really designed to be used with a digital pen. If you have a touch screen, you might be able to get away with using your finger. If you don’t have a touch screen, you could buy a graphics tablet with a digital pen that acts like a mouse. Wacom are the world leaders in this technology, but there are cheaper options that would do the job, e.g. a Huion H420. You might also find some good options on Trade Me.
  8. Video streaming is very demanding on bandwidth, and a device’s wifi connection is a potential bottleneck. If you are using wifi, try to stay close to the modem/router.  (Search on YouTube for wifi advice.)  Better still, switch off your device’s wifi and plug it directly into the modem/router using an ethernet cable.
  9. Remember that whatever you write on your paper is publicly visible. BitPaper also records every event on your paper, even after you’ve deleted it – successive undo’s will bring them back.  We’ve already watched some of you do huge scribbles all over your paper before the start of your lesson.  Best assume that your tutor has your BitPaper open at all times.  😉