- "He can read the thoughts of anyone in close proximity to him, with the exception of Bella Cullen."
- ―Entry on Edward's gift[src]
Edward's gift allows him to hear the thoughts of others in close proximity with him and see the images in their minds. Like hearing and vision, this gift behaves pretty much like a sense, and Edward can't exert much conscious control over it.
A strong bond between Edward and other individuals allows him to read their minds from a greater distance when he concentrates on them, though it only works within a few miles' range. Like Alice and some other gifted vampires, Edward's ability seems to work best with other vampires. He has also commented that picking up a shape-shifter's mind is easier when the shape-shifter is in human form.
He can use it to keep tabs of what other people are experiencing at the moment, and has therefore an advantage in a fight, as he can anticipate his opponent's moves, as shown in the practice fight with Jasper. Thanks to this power, he is on par with Jasper, who is known as the best fighter in the family. He can also use it to experience Alice's visions when she is in close proximity with him.
Edward's telepathic ability is limited to hearing or seeing only the current thoughts of the people around him, except for Bella Swan and anyone she shields, whose thoughts he does not perceive. Also, his power is raw, which makes it impossible for him to stop hearing the thoughts of those around him, although he states he can drown out extra voices by concentrating on environmental details or one specific mind. Edward found most of the kids in Forks High School unimaginative, and, in some cases, vulgar. He also had the displeasure of reading Jacob's mind, due to his thoughts and "little fantasies" about Bella.
As a human, Edward was capable of reading people, which is why he manifests this power as a vampire.
After becoming a vampire, he quickly realized his power to read minds. In between 1926 and 1931, he lived apart from Carlisle and Esme and fed on human blood: he used his telepathic skill to locate the worst humans in society, thinking that as long as he was serving justice, the cause would be justifiable. His first victim being Esme's first, abusive, husband: Charles Evenson.
In 1933, after rejoining Carlisle and Esme, and Rosalie joined their family, Edward found Rosalie's shallow mind repulsive and showed no attraction toward her beauty like other men had.
- "Let's say, hypothetically of course, that... someone... could know what people are thinking, read minds, you know - with a few exceptions... How does it work? What are the limitations? How would... that someone... find someone else at exactly the right time? How would he know she was in trouble?"
- ―Bella's theory on Edward's telepathic power.[src]
At the beginning of Twilight, Edward encounters Bella Swan, whose thoughts he could not read for reasons he didn't know at that time. As he continues to attempt read her mind, he finds himself attracted to her and eventually falls in love with her.
While in Port Angeles, Edward uses his telepathy to watch a group of drunken evildoers approach Bella while tracking down their location to save her. Using this ability, he also discovers that James was a tracker - a vampire with a strong sense of locating his prey.
Edward's experience with his telepathy is much more described in Midnight Sun, which shows his connection to those around him, his experiences with Alice Cullen's visions, and his frustration of his inability to read Bella's mind. While using this ability, he can both hear people's thoughts and see the images in them. He also uses those thoughts to indirectly watch over Bella.
After leaving Bella in Forks, Edward spends some time hunting a vampire named Victoria by using his mind-reading to track her down. However, her ability of evasion warned her prematurely, and allows her to escape and lose his trail in the southern parts of America.
While attempting to persuade the Volturi to kill him, Aro finds his power useful and offers to let him join their cause. Their refusal to destroy him prompts Edward to reveal his vampiric nature to the locals of Volterra.
While intercepting the minds that Edward has read, Aro learns everything in his surrounding.
Edward translates the Uley pack's thoughts to Carlisle and the rest of his family while picking up their combined minds. During the battle against the newborn army, Edward is absent from the battle, but participates the whole occasion through the mind of pack member, Seth, and offers advice and battle strategy to the wolves, who can also hear him.
He later attempts to persuade Riley Biers to realize that Victoria is feeding him with lies about her devotion, but his attempt fails.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner
At the end of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Edward reads Bree Tanner's mind and learns everything she had experienced, even her awareness of Jane's agreement with Victoria. He also intercepts her dying wish to be nice to her friend Fred if they were ever to cross paths.
- "I heard you. How? How did you do that?"
- ―Edward to Bella[src]
Edward hears inappropriate thoughts from Mike Newton about Bella and discovers Jacob's appearance using telepathy to pick up his mind. Near the end of Bella's pregnancy, he picks up Renesmee's mind for the first time and discovers her intelligence and the love that she has for her family. He also tells Jacob that his pack member Seth has one of the purest, sincerest and kindest minds he had ever read.
Edward had hoped that Bella's conversion into a vampire would grant him access to her mind. However, even after her transformation, her brain is completely closed off from his telepathy. Their daughter, however, shows immunity to her blockage when she 'communicates' with Bella through her psychic power.
During their confrontation with the Volturi, Edward is forced to give Aro every information he had gathered from the people he had been around since their last encounter. He also provides security watch for his family during the entire trial. He is also the only to participate their thoughts for strategy, but is unable to thwart them. In Breaking Dawn - Part 2, Edward uses his telepathy to watch the potential battle predicted by Alice and then a vision of his daughter living happily with Jacob and their family in the future.
At the end of Breaking Dawn, Bella temporarily removes her psychic shield and allows Edward access to her thoughts for the first time; he sees memories of everything that had happened between them since they met and learns how she felt back then. Though he is happy to finally be able to read her mind, he is rather unsatisfied by it; he wishes to be able to hear her mind forever.
- Aro's ability is the same general class of Edward's, though much more powerful. With physical contact, he can read every thought, emotion and memory stored in the possessor's mind.
- Renesmee Cullen's ability is opposite to Edward's. By touching someone, she can project her thoughts into his or her head to communicate with them. Like her mother's, Renesmee's talent is very powerful; not even Bella can block her.
- In the Black and Uley packs, all members' minds are connected to each other when they are in wolf forms, allowing them to read each other's thoughts. This enables a degree of teamwork unimaginable otherwise and essential in collaborative activities requiring high coordination, like hunting or battle, or when the pack is spread over vast areas. No privacy exists in the team. When a pack member shifts his allegiance to another Alpha, his mental connection with the previous pack breaks, to reform with the new one. It is interesting to note that Alphas in telepathic connections can control the thoughts they share.