How to sign a PDF document on your Mac

By , Dec 15, 2016

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Every once in a while, you might come across a PDF document that requires your signature, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste printer ink and effort by printing it out, signing it, and scanning it back into your computer.

The Markup feature in macOS makes things like this a breeze by letting you sign PDF documents digitally, and in this tutorial, we’ll show you how you can use it to quickly sign a document as easily as possible.

Some instances where you’re going to find this feature helpful include when a company emails you a document, which is common with insurance companies, or when you download a tax form from the IRS’ web page to fill out for your taxes each year.

How to sign a PDF file

To start, you’re going to need a PDF document to sign. At this point, you should already have a document from a company or individual that you’re working with, and are just looking for a way to easily sign it and send it where it needs to go.

Once you have a document you need signed on your Mac, you can follow either of the methods below to sign it digitally:

Method one: if your Mac has a trackpad

If you have a trackpad on your Mac, the easiest method will be the following:

1) Find the document you want to sign in Finder.

2) Right click on the file and choose Open With → Preview.

Contract Open With Preview Mac

3) Click on the Markup button in the toolbar.

Preview Markup Button

4) Click on the Signature tool in the Markup toolbar.

Sign PDF Document 1

5) Click on the Click Here to Begin button in the interface that appears.

PDF Signing Click Here to Begin

6) Carefully drag your finger in a signature motion from left to right on your trackpad to sign your name:

PDF Signature Dragged

7) Press any key on your keyboard when you’re done dragging, then click on the Done button.

PDF Signed Done

8) Now you can click on your saved signature to add it to the PDF file:

Add Signature to PDF

9) Next, just drag your signature to the signature line in the PDF file:

Drag Signature

10) Once satisfied, go to File → Export as PDF… in the Menu Bar.

Preview Export as PDF

11) Give your signed document a name and choose a location to save it to, then click on the blue Save button.

Signed Contract Save

Method two: if your Mac doesn’t have a trackpad

This method works if you have a trackpad or not, but it requires you to have a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Some might prefer this method whether they have a trackpad or not simply because it will allow you to comfortably sign your name on a piece of paper just like you’re probably used to already. This method is also the only way to get create and save your signature if you don’t have a trackpad.

1) Get a blank white sheet of paper and sign your name on it.

2) Open a Finder window and find the PDF file you want to sign.

3) Right click on the file and select Open With → Preview.

Contract Open With Preview Mac

4) Click on the Markup button in the Preview toolbar.

Preview Markup Button

5) Click on the Signature tool in the Markup toolbar.

Sign PDF Document 1

6) Click on the Camera button from the signature interface and then hold the piece of paper with your signature on it up to your Mac’s front-facing camera:

Preview App Camera Signature Done

Note: Your Mac will auto-detect the signature and flip it into a mirror image for correct orientation. You can re-try the signature several times until you’re satisfied with it by clicking on the Cancel button to restart.

7) If the detection looks good, click on the Done button to save it to your Preview app.

8) You can now click on your saved signature to add it to the PDF file:

Add Signature to PDF

9) Drag your signature to the signature line in your PDF file:

Drag Signature

10) To save the signed PDF file, go to File → Export as PDF… in the Menu Bar.

Preview Export as PDF

11) Name the file and choose where you want to save it, then click on the blue Save button.

Signed Contract Save

Now your signed document can be found right where you saved it, no matter which method you used to sign your document:

Signed PDF File

As you can always count on Apple‘s peculiar attention to detail, your signature even appears in the file’s icon, as shown above.

No matter which methodology you followed above, you’ve just digitally signed a document with macOS‘s Markup feature. More importantly, your signature is saved in the Preview app so you can easily sign more documents in the future without having to repeat any of these steps.

Now that you have a signed document on your Mac, you can easily upload it to a web page that requires it or email it back to the person who sent it to you in the first place, and then you’re done!

What to do if the file isn’t a PDF

If the file you’re trying to sign isn’t a PDF file already, you can easily transform it into one so you can sign it with the Markup feature in Preview.

One of the most common alternatives to a PDF file that you might encounter is a Microsoft Word file (.doc or .docx). To convert almost any text file to a PDF file with Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

1) Open the text file in Microsoft Word.

2) Go to File → Print… from the Menu Bar.

Microsoft Word File Print to PDF 1

3) Click on the PDF button at the bottom of the Print window.

4) Choose the Save as PDF… option.

Microsoft Word Save as PDF button

5) Give your new PDF file a name and choose where it will be saved to, then click on the blue Save button.

Microsoft Word Save Word File as PDF

Your newly-made PDF file should now appear where you chose to save it:

Word File Saved as PDF

Other types of software might have different PDF exporting menus, so your results may vary, but you might want to try setting up a keyboard shortcut for the Export to PDF command to help speed things up in the future.

Now that you have a PDF version of the non-PDF file from earlier, you can follow the other set of steps above for using Markup to sign it. Easy enough, right?

Also read:

Will you be taking advantage of the Markup feature on your Mac in the future? Share how you’ll use it in the comments below!

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