How to electronically sign a PDF file document without the assistance of a printing machine or scanning them have you been emailed a document that you have to sign and send it back? You have the option to print out the document, sign it, then scan it back in and email it. However, there’s a better, faster way.
This article will show you how to quickly add your signature to any PDF document, also how to save it as a standard PDF file that can be read anywhere. This can be done on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Chrome OS, Linux on whatever platform you prefer.
Electronic Signatures, Not Digital Signatures
First, let’s straighten the terminology used. The article you’re reading deals with electronic signatures, and not digital signatures, those are something else entirely. A digital signature is cryptographically secure, it verifies that someone with your private signing key (in other words, you) has seen the document as well as has authorized it. That is very secure, however, it is also complicated.
An electronic signature, on the contrary, is merely an image of your signature overlaid on top of a PDF document. This can be done with all kinds of apps; this is what most people need when they send you a document to sign. Send them a PDF file with a digital signature, they will not understand what to make of it. For a large chunk of businesses, just accepting signed documents by email rather than going through the whole process of having to fax them is a huge technological leap.
Sure, the below methods aren’t exactly foolproof, however, printing something, scribbling over it with a pen, then scanning it again, couldn’t exactly be considered safe and easy either. At least this is faster!
Electronically sign Windows: You can use Adobe Reader
While Adobe Reader isn’t the only pdf viewer, this is one of the most feature-packed, it has excellent support for signing PDF documents. Even though other third-party PDF readers may offer this feature, they generally need you to purchase a paid version before you can use the signature features.
To sign a document using Adobe Reader follow the given steps.
First, open the PDF document in the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC app. Click on “Fill & Sign”.
Click on “Sign” on the toolbar, then click on “Add Signature.” This will add your signature to Adobe Acrobat Reader DC.
If you want to add other information to the document, you can use other buttons on the toolbar. For example, if you want to type text or add checkmarks to fill in forms you can do so using buttons on the Fill & Sign toolbar.
You can create a signature using three ways. Adobe Reader chooses “Type” so you can type your name, by default. then have it converted to a signature. This process won’t make it look like your real signature, so it probably can’t be considered ideal.
Instead, you can select “Draw,” then draw your signature using your mouse or a touch screen, assuming you have one. You also have the ability to select “Image” if you are okay with signing a piece of paper, scanning it with a scanner, then adding the written signature to Adobe Reader. Yes, this step does require scanning, however, this has to be done only once. After that, you can use that signature on any documents you electronically sign all documents in the future.
After you have successfully created a signature, click on “Apply” to apply it to the document. Leave “Save Signature” checked, doing so you can quickly add this signature in the future.
Position your signature where you want it using your mouse, then click to apply it. If you wish to save the signature, you will be able to find it easily in the “Sign” menu for future uses.
To save your signed PDF document, click on File > Save, then choose a location for the file.
For a Mac: Use Preview
In this instance, Mac users are luckier than Windows users. The Preview application included with macOS has document-signing features incorporated. Due to the excellent trackpad built-in MacBook; its users have the ability to draw their signature on the trackpad using their fingers to enter it into Preview. The new MacBook has a “Force Touch” trackpad, this is even pressured sensitive, thus, allowing even more accurate signatures.
You could also just sign a piece of paper, then “scan” it using your webcam, if you want to create your signature the old-fashioned way, or in the case of your iMac having no trackpad.
To sign a document, first, you need to open a PDF document in Preview. This would be the default app that opens when you double-click on a PDF file, that is if you haven’t changed it. Click on the toolbox-shaped “Show Markup Toolbar,” then click on “Sign” on the toolbar that appears.
You will be prompted to create a signature by using the trackpad. Or, to create one by signing a piece of paper, then scanning it with your webcam. You just need to capture your signature once, then Preview will remember it for the future.
After you capture a signature; you can select it in the menu that appears after you click on “Sign.” Your signature will be applied as an image that can be dragged around as well as can be resized to fit the document.
The other options on the toolbar allow you to type the text as well as draw shapes on the document, thus, allowing you to fill in forms, if required.
When you’re done, click on File > Save to save the PDF. You can also click on File > Duplicate instead if you want to create a copy of the PDF, then save your changes into a new copy of the file without having to modify the original.
If you don’t like to use Preview for whatever reason, you can always use Adobe Reader DC on a Mac. This will work just like signing a document on Windows, so see the instructions given above for the Windows section for information to use Adobe Reader DC.
For iPhone/iPad: Use Mail or Adobe Fill & Sign
On an iPhone or an iPad, you can sign documents using the markup feature in the iPhone/iPad Mail app. If you happen to own a Mac and use Preview to sign documents, your signature will synchronize from the Mac to your iPhone/iPad so you don’t need to create it again.
This feature is convenient; however, it will only work if you have to sign documents in the Mail app. For example, you may be emailed a PDF document and you might need to sign it, then email it right back.
To do so, you have to receive an email with a PDF file attached. Tap on the PDF attachment, then click on the toolbox-shaped “Markup and Reply” icon at the bottom right of the screen while viewing the PDF.
You will then be able to add a signature by tapping the signature button at the bottom right. You can also type text or even draw on the document if you wish.
After you tap on “Done,” the Mail app will automatically create a reply to the email with the signed document attached. You can type an email message, then send the signed document.
While this is convenient, it only works in the Mail app, so its functionality is very limited. If you want to perform this from any other app, you will have to have a third-party signing app.
There are quite a few options here, however, Adobe’s Adobe Fill & Sign app takes the cake, as it allows you to sign an unlimited number of documents for free. It also lets you capture pictures of paper documents using your camera, to create digital copies of paper forms. You can sign a document by writing on your touch screen using either a finger or a stylus, they also allow you to type text into PDF documents to fill the PDFs.
To get a PDF document from another app into Adobe Fill & Sign, locate the PDF file in another app, tap on “Share,” then select the Adobe Fill & Sign app. You can then tap on the signature button to sign the document. After you’re done, tap on “Share” within Adobe Fill & Sign to send the signed document to another app.
If you’re looking for a more full-featured tool, or if you simply don’t want to use Adobe Sign & Fill, you can consider using SignNow. It works very well; it also allows you to sign documents using your finger. You can sign up to five documents a month for free, however, after that, it requires a monthly subscription fee. It’s a good alternative, nevertheless.
For Android: Use Adobe Fill & Sign
Android doesn’t come with a built-in app to perform this task. Instead, you have to use a third-party app. Adobe Fill & Sign is a great option as it allows you to sign an unlimited number of documents a month for free. It also provides the feature to capture pictures of paper documents with your camera.
After you install the app, open PDF documents in the app. Then tap on the signature button to sign them. You can then share the signed document with another app, you can do so by tapping on “Share”.
If you don’t want to use Adobe, just like on iPhone/iPad, it is recommended you try SignNow if you want something a bit more feature-filled and if you are willing to pay. As it only offers up to five signatures a month for free.
For Chromebook: Use HelloSign
On a Chromebook, you will be able to find a variety of web signing services. HelloSign is a great option as it offers a good web interface as well as a Chrome app that integrates with Google Drive. This app allows you to sign up to three documents a month for free.
HelloSign’s basic web interface allows its users to easily upload PDF documents, then sign them by either drawing the signature or by uploading an image. You can later email the signed document directly. Or, you can download the document, then do whatever you want with it.
If you don’t want to use HelloSign, DocuSign works well on a Chromebook as well, it offers an app that integrates with Google Drive for signing along with a browser extension, this extension allows you to sign documents from Gmail. However, DocuSign does not offer any free signatures.
For Linux: It is Complicated
This process is a bit tougher on Linux, as the official version of Adobe Reader for Linux is discontinued. Not even the old, out-of-date versions available for Linux have this functionality. Nor do popular integrated PDF viewers like Evince or Okular.
You might want to try a web-based tool like HelloSign, discussed above, for the easiest experience.
If you are determined on using a desktop app, Xournal is probably the most convenient tool on Linux. First, you will have to create an image of your signature, i.e., sign a piece of paper, scan it into your Linux system, then clean it. You could just capture a photo of it using your webcam or a smartphone, as well. You should probably tweak it in GIMP so it has a transparent background. Or, you can just make sure you sign a white piece of paper, make sure that the background is completely white.
You have to install Xournal from the Linux distribution’s software installation tool. Open the PDF, then click on the Tools > Image menu option. This will allow you to insert the image of the signature, then you can reposition as well as resize it as necessary.
Having to scan and create an image file might feel annoying, however, you can use this method to quickly sign documents in the future after you have taken a good image of the signature. If you liked this article (or if it helped at all), leave a comment below or share it with friends, so they can also know How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents Without Printing and Scanning Them?