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Articles: How-To: Sign PDFs Using Preview

How-To Sign PDFs Using Preview

While the promise of a paperless society hasn’t quite materialized, there are probably more things we can do paperless than we realize.

One of those is putting your signature on a piece of paper and faxing it to someone or dropping it into the mail. Why not just take that PDF you were emailed and handle it right on your computer and send it back via email?

This ability is built-in to every version of OS X since 10.7 Lion. And you can do it right in Preview, an app you’ve probably opened a million times on your computer just to view things. All you have to do is create an image of your signature using either your Mac’s camera or its trackpad. Then you can drop that signature image into any PDF with just a couple of clicks, save the file, and email it back.

To do all that, follow these steps in Preview in OS X 10.11 El Capitan; earlier versions of OS X are similar:

1. Open the PDF you need to sign in Preview.

2. Click the toolbox icon in the toolbar to reveal Preview’s markup tools.



3. Click the signature icon.



To use the trackpad to make your signature, click Click Here to Begin, and start signing. Press any key when you’re done. Honestly, this is hard to do with a finger—click Clear to try again—so if you have a rubber-tipped iPad stylus, use that to make the writing easier. Click Done once you have a signature you like.








For an easier method, sign your name using a thick black marker on a white piece of paper that’s blank on the back. Then click Camera and hold your paper up to the camera. You can keep moving it around until the entire signature fits in the window and isn’t angled oddly. Once Preview captures it, click Done.






To sign the current PDF and any others in the future, click the signature icon again and click your signature to insert it as a graphic that you can move around in the document and resize to fit into the appropriate space.

That’s it—you now have your own digital signature stamp!

One final tip: You can create and insert multiple signatures, and while the authorities frown on forgery, Preview makes it easy for an assistant to affix the boss’s signature to documents that don’t need the real thing.


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