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Electronic Signatures

How to Sign a PDF: 4 Ways Compared

Will Cannon

We know how important signing a PDF is. Many businesses have shifted to electronic signatures to expedite their processes, minimize their expenses, and make it as easy as possible for anyone to sign documents.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll show you how to sign a PDF on virtually any device, comparing all forms and telling you when it’s best to use them. By the end of the article, you’ll know exactly which one to use and when to use it.

Let’s get started.

How to Sign a PDF on Windows 

Windows is the most used OS worldwide. Here’s how to sign a PDF if you have a Windows PC:

Using an Electronic Signature Software

Electronic signature software or electronic signature apps usually refer to digital platforms that let you create and use electronic signatures online. With them, you can not only sign documents but create documents to be signed with all the legality of paper documents.

Here are the best electronic signature platforms:

Signaturely

Signaturely allows you to capture signatures online for free.

Signaturely is a free, easy-to-use e-signature solution, perfect for anyone who wants to get legally binding digital signatures on forms, proposals, and agreements online.

Signing a PDF with Signaturely is easy. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Upload your PDF

Upload your PDF to the platform and add signature fields wherever they’re needed. You can then add your signature and send it to the rest of your signees.

Step 2: Have your PDF signed

Your signees will be notified via email that there’s a document in need of their signature. Signaturely will then guide them step by step through the signing process, from creating their digital signature, if they don’t have one, to teaching them how to sign the document.

Step 3: Keep track of your PDF

You can use the Signaturely platform to stay in the loop. The platform will let you know who has signed the document and who hasn’t, and it will even use gentle notifications to remind users to sign.

You can use Signaturely for free or sign up for a business account with unlimited templates and signature requests right here.

Using Adobe Sign

Made by Adobe, Adobe Sign is a paid e-signature option to get legally binding signatures online.

Developed and backed by Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Adobe Sign is an online signing platform that allows users to sign PDF documents using multiple devices, including PCs.

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Upload your documents

Connect your Google Drive, Microsoft 365, Box, or any other platform your documents are stored on. Upload your documents to the Adobe Sign platform.

Step 2: Prepare your PDFs for signing

Once your documents have been uploaded to the platform, add your signees’ email addresses and a personal message. Then add the PDF that requires their signature. 

Use the drag and drop editor to add signature fields, and once you’re done, you can send the document to the signees to be signed. 

Step 3: Wait for the PDF to get signed

Once your document has been signed, Adobe sends you an instant notification to let you keep track of approvals. You can also use your dashboard to make sure you’re tracking all documents, keeping you informed about their status.

PDFelement

PDFelement is another PDF editor you can use with both Windows and Mac

PDFelement is another PDF editor you can use with both Windows and Mac. It has a friendly interface, making it easy to edit PDF documents in detail. With this platform, you can easily create, edit, and convert PDFs to your liking, making it a good alternative to Adobe software. 

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Open or create your PDF

PDFelement allows you to create new PDFs or open existing PDFs with its “One-Click PDF Creation” feature, which allows you to convert files into PDFs with just one click.

Step 2: Prepare your document

Once you have the PDF ready, you can start preparing it for its signature. You can not only add signature files to your PDFs, but you can also add comments, drawings, stamps, and attachments to your PDF file to help contextualize your document.

Step 3: Sign your document

Once you’ve prepared your document, you can sign it with your Signature ID. You can use the platform to create a new ID or to browse your computer and export an ID into PDFelement. Both you and your signees will have to go through this step separately to sign the PDF. 

Since PDFelement doesn’t guide the people who need to sign your document, you’ll have to let your users know how to use it.

3 Ways of Signing a PDF on Windows Compared

SignaturelyAdobe SignPDFelementWinner
CostLimited free version$9.99 per month$69 per yearSignaturely
Ease of UseVery easySomewhat easyAverageSignaturely
QualityExtremely highHighAverageSignaturely
G2 rating5 stars4.3 stars4.5 starsSignaturely

Signing a PDF on Mac

Signing a PDF on a Mac is much the same as signing a PDF using Windows. Here’s how to do it:

Using an Electronic Signature Software 

As we mentioned before, electronic signature platforms make it very easy for everyone involved to sign PDFs.

Here are the best electronic signature platforms to sign PDFs on a Mac:

Signaturely

Signaturely allows you to capture signatures online for free.

Signaturely is a free, easy-to-use e-signature solution, perfect for anyone who wants to get legally binding online signatures on practically any digital document.

Here’s how to use Signaturely to sign a PDF on a Mac:

Step 1: Upload your PDF

Upload your PDF to the platform and add signature fields wherever they’re needed. You can then add your signature and send it to the rest of your signees.

Step 2: Have your PDF signed

Your signees will be notified by email that there’s a document in need of their signature. Signaturely will then guide them step by step through the signing process, from creating their online signature, if they don’t have one, to teaching them how to sign the document.

Step 3: Keep track of your PDF

You can use the platform to stay in the loop. It will let you know who has signed and who hasn’t. It will even use gentle notifications to remind users to sign your document.

You can use Signaturely for free, or sign up for a business account with unlimited templates and signature requests right here.

Adobe Sign

Made by Adobe, Adobe Sign is a paid e-signature option to get legally binding signatures online.

Adobe Sign can also be used to sign PDFs on a Mac, as well as many other devices. All you need to do is connect to the cloud platform where you have your documents, like Google Drive, Microsoft 365, Box, or many others to export your PDF, set it up, and send it to be signed.

Once your document has been signed, Adobe sends you an instant notification to let you keep track of approvals.

DocuSign

DocuSign is an online signature platform with powerful integrations.

DocuSign is another online signing platform that allows users to sign documents from virtually any device, including a MacBook.

The platform is good for users looking for advanced settings, although it may be overwhelming for a new user. Users can also keep track of the status of their signatures and even write contracts in over 40 languages.

PDFelement

Although its main focus is PDF editing, Wondershare PDF Element also has electronic signature capabilities

PDFelement is a PDF editor available for both Windows and iOS. It features a very simple UI, allowing you to create, edit, and convert PDFs to your liking, making it a good alternative to Adobe software. 

Although its main focus is PDF editing, this software also has electronic signature capabilities, allowing you to add signature fields to your PDFs.

PandaDoc

PandaDoc is another electronic signature platform

PandaDoc is another electronic signature platform that allows users to set up PDFs and include them in interactive proposals with online signature capabilities.

The platform lets you keep up with your proposals, letting you know who has interacted with them and keeping you informed about the process. PandaDoc also has a responsive app for Android and iOS, and the platform works well with Windows and macOS.

Using a Digitally Drawn Signature 

Here’s how to set up and use a digitally drawn signature for signing PDFs and other documents online:

Using your mouse or trackpad

Although iOS doesn’t have a preinstalled drawing app, you can either download an app like Sketch or Patina or use Signaturely’s Online Signature Maker if you don’t want to download anything.

To use Signaturely’s Online Signature Maker, go to the online signature maker and select “Draw your signature.” Then simply draw your signature using your mouse, trackpad, or stylus, and personalize your drawing.

Once you’re done, download the file as a PNG and it will be ready to use.

Using your fingers on a touchscreen

You can also use almost any drawing app to draw a signature. Simply open your drawing app, select the brush and color, and start drawing your signature.

When you’re satisfied with the result, you can select “Save Signature” and send it to your email, or send it to your Mac with Bluetooth.

Using your keyboard and then choosing a font

Lastly, you can avoid drawing entirely, and simply type your signature with Signaturely’s Online Signature Maker. Just select “Type your signature,” use the text box to type your name or initials, and choose a font to personalize it. 

Once you’re happy with it, you can simply download it. Your new signature will be saved on your computer as a PNG file and will be ready to use.

Using Apple Preview 

You can also use Apple Preview to sign your PDFs. Here’s how:

Step 1: Create your virtual signature

To start using Preview to sign your PDF, you’ll first have to open your PDF and then create your virtual signature, either by drawing it with your TrackPad, taking a photo of it with your MacBook’s camera, or drawing it using your iPhone or iPad.

Step 2: Add your signature to your PDF

Now that you have recorded an image of your signature to Preview, you can start using it to sign your documents. Just open your PDF on Preview, and go to the Signature button as you did before. Then click on your signature, and place your signature as you like.

Once your signature is properly placed, you can save the document and share it with the other signees.

Using Apple Mail 

Lastly, you can also sign documents on a Mac through Apple Mail. Here’s how:

Open your Mail app, then go to Mail. Click Preferences, and select Signatures. Once you’re there, you can select the email account you want to link a signature to in the left column. In the middle column, you can name your signature to easily keep track of it. Finally, you can create your signature in the right column.

Once you have your signature, you can start using it to sign PDFs in your Mail app. You can also automatically add your signature to emails as a way to end them.

4 Ways of Signing a PDF on Mac Compared

Electronic Signature SoftwareDigitally Drawn SignatureApple PreviewApple MailWinner
CostFree versionsFreeFreeFreeTie
Ease of UseVery easy for all signeesFairly easyFairly easyEasySignaturely
Document management capabilities?YesNoNoNoSignaturely
Team collaboration?YesNoNoNoSignaturely

As we can see, although there are multiple ways to sign a PDF on a Mac for free, you’ll likely encounter difficulties if you’re going to use any of those options for anything more than just a casual signature.

With no advanced capabilities, other than the addition of a simple digital signature, Signaturely is superior for managing documents, helping signees to sign your PDFs, and keeping track of your contracts once you’ve sent them out for signing.

Signing a PDF on Android

Here is a comparison of a few ways to sign a PDF on Android:

Using Adobe Acrobat Reader  

Adobe Acrobat Reader has an app in Google Play. Here’s how to sign with it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the Google Play Store on your Android device and download the Adobe Reader app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready for signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

Now that your app is ready to go, open your PDF file in the app. You can search for the file in-app or find the file outside of the app and open it with Adobe Reader.

Step 3: Create your signature

If this is your first time using the app to sign a document, you’ll have to create a signature. To do this, look at the bottom right corner of the screen and find the pen icon. Tap on it and select  “Fill & Sign?” then select “Create Signature.” Once you’re there, simply draw a signature and tap on “Done.”

Step 4: Sign PDF

Now that you have your signature ready to go, you can tap anywhere on your PDF to place your signature, adjusting it as needed.

When you’re done signing, simply tap on the checkmark at the top left corner, and the signed document will be saved and ready to share.

Using Adobe Fill & Sign

Another Adobe Android app you can use for signing documents is Adobe Fill & Sign. Since Adobe Fill & Sign is better for forms, you can use the app to complete a form that needs signing and then finish it up with your signature. Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Download the Adobe Fill & Sign app from your device’s Google Play Store. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready to start signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

Once your app is ready to go, you can open your document by opening the app and tapping on the plus sign icon in the middle of the screen to choose the form you want to fill from your device.

When you open the file, you can rearrange it and even edit it with some limited options to make it easy to fill. 

Step 3: Create your signature

If you’ve never used the app before, the app will ask you to create a signature. To do this, look at the bottom right corner of the screen and find the pen icon. Tap on it and select  “Fill & Sign?” then select “Create Signature.” Once you’re there, simply draw the signature you’ll use and tap on “Done.”

If you’ve created the signature already, tapping the pen icon will make your signature accessible instead.

Step 4: Sign your document

Now that you have your signature ready to go, you can tap anywhere on your PDF file to place your signature, adjusting it and resizing it to make it fit where it needs to be.

When you’re done signing, simply tap on the checkmark at the top left corner, and the signed document will be saved and ready to share.

Using Adobe Sign Mobile

The last Adobe app you can use to sign PDFs on Android is Adobe Sign Mobile. This app is great for sending PDFs to sign. 

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the Google Play Store on your Android device, and download Adobe Sign Mobile. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready to start signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

On the main menu, tap on “Send for Signature.” Then tap on “Documents.” Here, you can add a document by either browsing your phone or by using the camera app to scan your document.

Step 3: Set up your signees

Now that you’ve selected or scanned your document, you can select your recipients, and you can even choose to have it signed in the order you add them.

You can also add a message for your signees to see right before signing, personalizing it with your signees’ names.

Step 4: Send your document

Now that your document is ready, you can send the document to your recipients to be signed. As your recipients sign the document, you’ll be notified by email. The platform will send the document in the correct order.

Once everyone has signed the document, all signees will receive a fully signed version of the document.

Using a non-Adobe Signature App

You can also use a non-Adobe Signature App like SignMyPad. Here’s how to sign a PDF with it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the SignMyPad website, and download the APK from there. You may need to tweak your admin permissions to start using an app downloaded outside the Google Play Store. 

Step 2: Open the PDF

Open the app and follow its instructions to open a PDF. You can also open a PDF from your phone by choosing SignMyPad to open it.

Step 3: Sign the PDF

Once you’ve opened your PDF, tap on the “Add” button in the top right corner and tap on “Signature.” Then sign your name in the box, and drag your signature to the area of the PDF that requires it.

Step 4: Finish and share it

Once you’ve signed your PDF document fully, you can simply tap on the green checkmark to complete the process and save your signed PDF. You can now share it by attaching it to an email or by using Dropbox.

4 Ways of Signing a PDF on Android Compared

Adobe Acrobat ReaderAdobe Fill & SignAdobe Sign MobileSignMyPadWinner
CostFreeFreeFree$3.99Adobe Platforms
Ease of UseEasy to useVery easy to useEasy to useEasy to useAdobe Fill & Sign
QualityHighHighHighHigh`Tie
Sharing capabilitiesGoodGoodExcellentAverageAdobe Sign Mobile

Signing a PDF on iOS / iPhone and iPad 

There are multiple ways to sign a PDF document on iPhone and iPad. Here are a few:

Using Native iOS Apps that Support Markup

Your iOS devices likely have a built-in Markup feature that will make it easy to sign your documents with a native app. Here’s how:

Step 1: Open your PDF

Open your PDF file on your device, and look for the Markup icon. The icon looks like a small pen-tip icon, and it usually appears in the top righthand corner. Tap on it, and select “Signature”.

Step 2: Create your signature

If you’ve never used the feature before, you’ll have to draw a signature using your finger or Apple Pencil. You can also use your pre-set signature, or create a new signature for your PDF.

Step 3: Place your signature

Now that your signature is ready to go, you can place your signature on the document, resizing it to fit the right area.

Step 4: Save your signed PDF document

Once your document is signed, you can tap “Done” to save the signature. Your document is now ready to be shared or saved.

Using Adobe Acrobat Reader  

Adobe Acrobat Reader has an app in the App Store. Here’s how to sign a PDF with it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the App Store on your iOS device, and download the Adobe Reader. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready to start signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

Now that your app is ready to go, open your PDF file in the app. You can search for the file in-app or find the file outside of the app and open it with Adobe Reader.

Step 3: Create your signature

Once you’ve opened the file, look at the bottom right corner of the screen, and find the pen icon. Tap on it and select  “Fill & Sign?” then select “Create Signature.” Once you’re there, simply draw your signature and tap on “Done.”

Step 4: Sign your document

Now that you have your signature ready to go, you can tap anywhere on your PDF to place your signature, adjusting it to where it needs to be.

When you’re done signing, simply tap on the checkmark at the top left corner, and the signed document will be saved and ready to share.

Using Adobe Fill & Sign

Another Adobe Android app you can use for signing documents is Adobe Fill & Sign. Since Adobe Fill & Sign is better for forms, you can use the app to complete a form that needs signing, and then finish it up with your signature. 

Here’s how to sign a PDF with it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the App Store on your iOS device, and download the Adobe Fill & Sign app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready to start signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

Once your app is ready to go, you can open your document by opening the app and tapping on the plus sign icon in the middle of the screen to choose the form on your device that you want to fill.

When you open the file, you can rearrange it and even edit it with some limited options to make it easy to fill.

Step 3: Create your signature

If you’ve never used the app before, it will ask you to create a signature. To do this, look at the bottom right corner of the screen, and find the pen icon. Tap on it and select  “Fill & Sign?” then select “Create Signature.” Once you’re there, simply draw your signature, and tap on “Done.”

If you’ve created the signature already, tapping the pen icon will make your signature accessible instead.

Step 4: Sign PDF

Now that you have your signature ready to go, you can tap anywhere on your PDF to place your signature, adjusting it and resizing it to make it fit where it needs to be.

When you’re done signing, simply tap on the checkmark at the top left corner, and the signed document will be saved and ready to share.

Using Adobe Sign Mobile

Finally, the last Adobe app you can use to sign PDFs on your iOS device is Adobe Sign Mobile. This app is a great way to send PDFs to sign. 

Here’s how to use it:

Step 1: Get and set up the app

Go to the App Store on your iOS device, and download the Adobe Sign Mobile app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, go through the first few steps to finish setting it up and make sure it’s ready to start signing PDFs.

Step 2: Open the PDF

On the main menu, tap on “Send for Signature.” Then tap on “Documents”. Here, you can add a document by either browsing your phone or by using the camera app to scan your document.

Step 3: Set up your signees

Now that you’ve selected or scanned your document, you can select your recipients, and you can even choose it to be signed in the order you add them.

You can also add a message for your signees to see right before signing, personalizing it with your signees’ names.

Step 4: Send your document

Now that your document is ready, you can send the document to your recipients to get signed. As your recipients start signing the document, you’ll be notified by email. The platform will send the document in the correct order.

Once everyone has signed the document, all signees will receive a fully signed copy of the document.

Using a non-Adobe Signature App

You can also sign a PDF outside of the Adobe sphere with apps like PDF Expert 7. Here’s how to sign a PDF document with this app:

Step 1: Download the app

Go to the App Store and download PDF Expert. Install it, and go through the first steps until you can reach the dashboard.

Step 2:  Open your PDF

Tap on the plus sign, and select the PDF you want to open. You’ll have to provide access to your gallery to start browsing your documents.

Step 3: Create your signature

Now that you have your PDF open, tap on “Signature,” and create a new signature that you can use to sign your document. If another person besides you will be signing the document, tap on “Customer Signature” instead.

Step 4: Sign and save your PDF document

Now that you have your signature, you can place it into the PDF, dragging it and resizing it to fit wherever you want.

4 Ways of Signing a PDF on iPhone / iOS and iPad Compared

Markup ToolAdobe Acrobat ReaderAdobe Fill & SignAdobe Sign MobilePDF Expert 7Winner
CostFreeFreeFreeFreeFreeTie
Ease of UseVery easy to useEasy to useEasy to useEasy to useEasy to useMarkup Tool
QualityHigh qualityVery high qualityHigh qualityHigh qualityHigh qualityAdobe Acrobat Reader
Sharing capabilitiesAverageGoodGoodExcellentGoodAdobe Sign Mobile

Conclusion

There are multiple ways to sign your PDFs on all devices, but there’s hardly a better way to get them signed than Signaturely.

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