How to Sign PDF Documents Easily in macOS Without Installing Third-Party Software

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Looking for an easy way to sign PDF documents on macOS? The feature is right in front of you, hidden in plain sight. Jack Wallen shows you how it’s done.

How many times have you received a PDF document and had to sign it, but either the sender didn’t make the PDF interactive/editable, or you don’t know where to find a tool to add that scratch of chicken from an autograph?

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I don’t know about you, but even as a freelance writer, it happens to me regularly. Whether it’s contracts, agreements or any number of documents, I always have to add my signature. When I have one of my Macbooks handy, the process of adding a signature isn’t just built in, it’s pretty easy to do (once you know where to look).

Let me show you how it’s done.

What you will need

This feature has been around, hidden in the background, for quite some time (since macOS Lion). So, as long as your macOS-powered device is up to date, you should be good to go. You’ll also need a PDF document to sign (which you probably have plenty of).

Now that everything is ready, let’s sign some documents.

How to sign a PDF on macOS

The tool you will use is Preview. Locate the PDF you need to connect to in Finder, then double-click it to open the document in Preview. In the toolbar, locate the Markup icon (pen tip pointing up–Figure A).

Figure A

The markup icon opens a new toolbar that includes many features to help you mark up your documents with notes, highlights, shapes, and your signature.

When the Annotation toolbar opens, you will notice a small drop-down list of signature icons (Figure B).

Figure B

The signature drop-down list is where the tool is to add a signature to your documents.
The signature drop-down list is where the tool is to add a signature to your documents.

Once the signature tool is open (Figure C), you have two options:

  • Use the trackpad to sign your document.
  • Use the camera to take a picture of your signature.

Figure C

The signature tool is open and ready to be signed.
The signature tool is open and ready to be signed.

As anyone reading this probably knows, creating a signature on a trackpad can be a challenge. Although you’ll find it much easier if you have a stylus, you might be so inclined to sign a piece of paper, hold the paper up to the camera, and take a picture to use as your signature.

Whatever route you take, select it in the tab (trackpad or camera), then create your signature. If you mess up the signature, hit the delete key on your keyboard to start over. Once you’ve successfully captured your signature, press any key on your keyboard, select a description from the drop-down menu, and click Done.

In the signature drop-down list, your newly generated autograph should appear. Click on this signature and it will appear in the document. You can then drag the signature to where you need it (Figure D).

Figure D

My fuzzy signature was added to a PDF document in macOS Preview.
My fuzzy signature was added to a PDF document in macOS Preview.

The signature object can be moved and enlarged to adapt perfectly to the needs of the document.

And that’s all there is to adding a signature to a PDF document in macOS Preview. Keep this handy feature in mind the next time you receive a PDF document for signature, as it will save you from having to print the document, scan it, then copy the scanned file to your desktop/laptop computer and to send it. back.

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