In this article, we’ll show you how to sign a PDF on a Mac, step by step. We’ll go through multiple options to get that PDF signed, like:
- Using an electronic signature software
- Using a digitally drawn signature
- Using Apple Preview
- Using Apple Mail
- Uploading an image of your signature
We’ll go through the signing process and the pros and cons of each one, 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 them.
Let’s get started.
Using an Electronic Signature Software
Electronic signature software usually refers to online platforms that let you create and use electronic signatures online. They eliminate the need for physical documents to record signatures.
When signing electronically, you don’t need to physically transport your contracts to your stakeholders; you don’t even need to print your contracts in the first place.
By using electronic signatures, you can go directly from the completion of your contract draft to getting it signed.
Here are the best electronic signature platforms:
Signaturely is a free, easy-to-use e-signature solution, perfect for anyone who wants to get legally-binding online signatures for forms, proposals, and agreements.
With a very simple UI, Signaturely allows you to add your online signatures by uploading your PDF or Word document to the platform and adding signature fields. You then send your document to the relevant parties to have it signed.
Your signees will first receive an email letting you know that there’s a document in need of their signature. Signaturely will guide them step by step through the signing process, starting by creating their online signature, if they don’t have one, and showing them how to proceed with signing the document.
The platform keeps you in the loop, letting you know who has signed and who hasn’t and even letting you remind users to sign your document through gentle notifications and reminders.
You can use Signaturely for free, or sign up for a business account with unlimited templates and signature requests right here.
Developed by Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, Adobe Sign is an online signing platform that allows users to send and collect electronic signatures.
With Adobe Sign, you can create and edit PDFs to add signatures and manage your proposals. You can work with Google Docs, Microsoft 365, and Box, to name a few.
Once your document has been signed, Adobe sends you an instant notification to let you keep track of your approvals.
DocuSign is another online signing platform that allows users to sign documents from virtually any device, like iOS, Windows, and Android, and it even works offline.
The platform has a decent amount of advanced settings, which may be overwhelming for a new user, but would be useful for advanced users. With this platform, you can add any legally-binding information to your contracts, keep track of the status of your signatures, and write contracts in over forty languages.
DocuSign also integrates with over 350 apps and platforms, letting you work with the tools you already use.
PDFelement is a PDF editor available for both Windows and Mac. Its interface is easy to use, allowing you to edit PDFs in detail. With it, you can easily create, edit, and convert PDFs to your liking, making it a good alternative to Adobe software.
Although its main focus is PDF editing, it also includes electronic signature capabilities, allowing you to add signature fields to your PDFs.
PandaDoc is another electronic signature platform that allows the user to create 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.
Pros and cons of using an e-signature platform to sign PDFs on a Mac
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using electronic signature software to edit and sign your PDFs on your Mac:
- Allows you to modify and send documents in bulk in very little time
- Can store all your forms and templates in one place
- Can be very user-friendly, especially for people who have never used an e-signature
- Lets you know what point in the signing process your document is at and gently remind users that their signature is needed
- Can help you create professional-looking emails and documents in-app
- Allows you to back up all your signed documents so they can’t be deleted by mistake
- Free options limit the amount of usage you get for a certain period
- Some platforms aren’t too affordable
Using a Digitally Drawn Signature
If you want to sign a document with your Mac, you may create your signature and add it to your PDF.
Using your mouse or trackpad
Since iOS doesn’t come with an app for drawing, you’ll have to either download an app like Sketch or Patina or use Signaturely’s Online Signature Maker if you don’t want to download anything.
To get started, go to the online signature maker and select “Draw your signature”.
Then, simply use your mouse, trackpad, or stylus to draw it. You can also change the angle, thickness, and color of your signature to make it unique.
Once you’ve completed that step, download the signature as a PNG and it will be ready to use.
Using your fingers on a touchscreen
If you have a tablet or a smartphone with a drawing app, you can draw a signature with it. Simply open your drawing app, select the brush and color, and start drawing your signature.
When you’re satisfied with the result, you can save it and send it to your email, or send it to your Mac via Bluetooth to start using it.
Using your keyboard and choosing a font
You can also “draw” your signature by typing it and saving it as an image. To start, go to Signaturely’s Online Signature Maker and select “Type your signature.”
Then type your name or initials and choose a font to personalize it. With Signaturely, you can choose from handwriting fonts or regular fonts. You can also change the color of your signature.
Once you’re happy with your completed signature, you can simply download it. Your new signature will be saved on your computer as a PNG and will be ready to use.
Using Apple Preview
If you want to sign your PDF on your Mac, you can also use Preview. Preview is the pre-installed app on your Mac that lets you see images when you open them.
Here’s how to sign with it:
Step 1: Create your virtual signature
To start using Preview to sign a PDF, you’ll first have to open the PDF, then create your virtual signature. You can do it one of three ways:
Create your virtual signature using TrackPad
Open your PDF with Preview, click on the Markup icon, then click on the Signature icon. Click on Create Signature, and go to Click Here to Begin.
After you’ve done this, select the TrackPad option. This will open a small window where you can start drawing your signature with your finger or a stylus. The TrackPad will behave like a signature-capturing device, all you need to do is “sign” the TrackPad with your finger or stylus and your signature will be recorded.
Create your virtual signature using your computer’s Camera
Open your PDF with Preview, click on the Markup icon, and then on the Signature icon. Click on Create Signature, and go to Click Here to Begin.
Once you’re there, select the Camera option. This will open a small window that displays your webcam’s point of view. Once you’re there, you can sign a blank piece of paper or get a pre-written document to scan with the camera.
Your camera will recognize and digitize your handwriting, allowing you to use it as an image to sign your PDF.
Create a virtual signature using your iPhone or iPad
Open your PDF with Preview, click on the Markup icon, and then on the Signature icon. Next, click Create Signature and go to Click Here to Begin.
Once you’re there, select the iPhone or Device option. This will only work if you have an iPhone or an iPad nearby that was previously connected to your Mac. You can use your finger or Apple Pencil to sign your name on your device. Once you’re happy with the results, click “Done,” and your signature will be saved to Preview.
Step 2: Add your signature to your PDF
Now that Preview has your signature recorded, you can start using it to sign your documents with it.
To get started, open your PDF in Preview and go to the Signature button, as you did before. Click on your signature. A small box will appear in the document, which includes your previously recorded signature. You can drag it and resize it to fit the document to your liking.
Once your signature is properly placed, you can save the document and share it with the other signees.
Deleting a saved signature on Preview
Once your signature is saved on the PDF and you close and reopen it, you will no longer be able to revert the PDF to its blank state. That’s why it’s always a good idea to first copy the PDF in case you want to sign it again.
If you haven’t saved an unsigned copy of the PDF on your Mac, you can edit the PDF by adding a blank square on top of your signature to “erase” it so you can sign it again.
Pros and Cons of using Preview to sign documents:
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using Preview to sign your documents on your Mac:
- Easy to use
- A fast option once it is set up
- No extra app needed to record your signature
- Only works for people who already own a Mac
- Since it’s fairly obscure, you may need to guide other signees on how to use it
Using Apple Mail
You can also create and use an online signature in your Mail app.
To do this, open your Mail app, go to Mail, click Preferences, and select Signatures. Then, 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.
Pros and Cons of using Mail to sign documents:
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using Mail to sign your documents on your Mac:
- Very easy way to sign documents
- Great for signing emails with PDFs
- Allows you to use your signature in all emails
- Will only work with the Mail app
- Only good for emails
- You need to be using the Mail app regularly for it to be a good solution
Uploading an Image of your Signature
Finally, you can simply upload an image of your signature to use as an online signature.
To start, draw your signature on a blank piece of paper. This will let you easily adjust it later. Then you can either scan it or take a photo of it and send it to your Mac. You’ll want to edit the image to look more like a signature and less like a photo, so try boosting your contrast to bring out the signature and unify the whiteness of the paper.
Once you’re done, save it as a JPEG to use as a signature on your Mac. Next, open the PDF you want to sign, and start editing it.
To insert your signature, you’ll have to use your PDF editor to add an image onto the PDF.
Pros and Cons of using an image to sign documents:
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using an image to sign your documents on your Mac:
- It can add a personal touch
- It looks as close to your signature as possible
- The digitized signature can be later edited to perfect it
- Fairly bothersome process
- Can be quite slow
- Needs to rely on your PDF editor to add the signature
Common Questions and Answers Around Signing a PDF on Mac
Here are the answers to the most common questions about signing a PDF on a Mac:
What is the best way to sign a PDF on Mac?
The best way to sign a PDF on a Mac will depend on multiple factors, like who else is signing, how many documents need signing, and so on. However, using a professional platform like Signaturely can significantly simplify the process for everyone involved.
What is the easiest way?
The easiest way to sign a document online is by using electronic software like Signaturely, which can easily adapt documents and guide the signees step by step.
Which way is the cheapest?
There are multiple cheap and free options for signing a PDF on a Mac, such as scanning your signature or using Preview. If you want to use an online signature platform, Signaturely gives you up to three sign requests per month for free, with no credit card required.
Which way is more reliable?
The most reliable way to sign a PDF on a Mac is by using an online signing platform that can keep a record of your signed files, keep you informed of the process, and lets your other signees know how to sign the document.
As you can see, there are multiple ways of signing PDFs on a Mac. If you’re only responsible for your signature, you can use Preview or Mail to get it done quickly.
However, if you’re responsible for creating and sending the document to get signed, you can’t go wrong with an online signing platform like Signaturely.