How to quickly and easily sign PDF documents on your Mac

Signing a PDF directly from your Mac can be a convenient and efficient way to authenticate and authorize important documents. Whether you need to sign a contract, fill out a form, or add your signature to a letter, there are a few simple methods you can use to sign PDF documents digitally on your Mac.

In this article, we’ll explore different ways to add your signature to a PDF document on your Mac without having to download third-party software.

Signing PDF on Mac

How to sign a PDF on Mac

1) Double-click a PDF to open it in the built-in Preview app.

2) Click the markup icon from the top.

3) Now, click the signature icon.

4) If you have ever created a signature on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, that signature would be listed here. You can pick one and use it. If no signature is available, click Create Signature.

Create Signature for PDF in Mac Preview

You now have three options to create a new signature:

Option 1: Using your iPhone or iPad

1) Click iPhone or iPad from the top.

2) If you have just one iOS device, it should open a blank signature creation box there. If you have multiple iPhones and iPads added to your Apple ID, click Select Device and pick your iPhone or iPad. I would recommend using the iPad over iPhone, as you can use your Apple Pencil for a perfect signature, and even if you don’t have an Apple Pencil, your finger can sign comfortably on the big iPad display.

Select your iPhone or iPad to create signature on Mac

3) Now, sign using your Apple Pencil or finger on your iPad or iPhone. It will appear in real-time on your Mac. If you need to start over, tap Clear, and it will clean the signature slate.

4) Once you have the perfect signature, tap or click Done on either your Mac or your iPhone/iPad.

Creating signature for Mac on iPad using Apple Pencil
Creating a signature for Mac on my iPad using Apple Pencil.

Option 2: Using your MacBook trackpad

You can use your finger to sign if you’re on a MacBook or have a trackpad connected to your Mac.

1) Start by selecting TrackpadClick Here to Begin.

Sign on Mac using your Trackpad

2) Now, do your best to sign using one finger on the trackpad. After that, press any key on the keyboard and then click Done.

Finish signing using trackpad on Mac

Option 3: Using your Mac’s Camera

It requires you to have a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. 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 like you’re already used to.

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

2) Click the signature button and select Camera from the top.

3) Now hold the piece of paper with your signature on it up to your Mac’s front-facing camera and click Done. 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.

Preview App Camera Signature Done

Add the signature to your PDF

After creating your signature using any of the three methods above, follow these quick steps to add it to the PDF and export it.

1) Scroll to the PDF page where the signature needs to go. Most likely, it will be the last page of the PDF.

2) Click the signature button from the top, select your signature, and it will immediately appear on the PDF page.

Select your signature to use in PDF on Mac

3) Drag your signature to the appropriate signature line in your PDF file. Use the arrow keys for finer controls. If you have difficulty moving the signature from one PDF page to another, simply select it on the first page, press Command + X to cut it, and paste it on any other PDF page using Command + V.

Drag signature to the right page of PDF on Mac

4) To save the signed PDF file, click File > Export from the top menu bar. You can also click Export as PDF if visible.

Export PDF with signature on Mac

5) Make sure it says PDF next to the Format box and hit the Save button.

Save PDF with added signature on Mac

Nice detail: You can always count on Apple’s peculiar attention to detail; your signature even appears in the file’s icon, as shown above.

Signed PDF File

Related: How to sign PDF documents on iPhone and iPad

Another method

Though not as easy as the above method, you can use the Draw button in Preview and then use your finger and trackpad to sketch your signature.

Sign PDF using Draw tool in Mac Preview

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.

iPhone or iPad not appearing as an option to create signature on Mac?

  • Make sure your iPhone or iPad is switched on and unlocked.
  • Your Mac and iPhone/iPad should have the same Apple ID.
  • Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Also, make sure all devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi.
  • If the problem continues, restart your iPhone/iPad and Mac.

Recipients can’t see the signature on your PDF?

If recipients of your document cannot see the signature, it is because you didn’t export the file as a PDF, as explained above. Simply saving your document after inserting the signature isn’t enough. You have to export the file as a PDF.

Other useful tips for PDFs: