How to Sign a PDF Using Preview in OS X Yosemite

Khamosh Pathak

Sign Preview

When you’re going paperless, a big part of the transition is dealing with features that are still stuck in the analog era. Signatures, for instance. Yes, you’ll find fingerprint authentication on the newer iPhones but when it comes to signing a contract, no matter how obscure, you still need to do it by hand.

Or do you? We’ve already told you about apps for iOS and Android that let you sign any digital document using your finger or stylus when you’re on the go. But those apps did their processing on their own servers, which meant they had access to your precious data.

If you have a MacBook running OS X 10.10 Yosemite, you can securely sign the document, without the need to install any extra software or worrying about the privacy.

Using Preview For Mac

Preview is an app that comes with every Mac. It’s an under-appreciated tool that lets you do a lot of awesome stuff. It opens images, PDFs, lets you batch edit images, and a lot more.

Today we’ll focus on the Sign utility in Preview.

How To Sign Using The Trackpad On Mac

Open the PDF or image file you need in the Preview app. Click on the Show Markup Toolbar button, which looks more like a briefcase than a toolbox. This will bring up an extra bar of markup utilities.

PDF Preview

We are concerned with the Sign utility. It’s located 6th from the left and the icon looks like a pen drawing a signature.

Clicking the icon will bring up a dropdown menu with the Trackpad section highlighted. Here you’ll see a representation of your MacBook’s trackpad.

PDF Preview

Tap the Click here to begin button and start sliding your finder across the trackpad to draw your signature.

I admit this is not an easy task, especially if you’re not used to drawing on the trackpad. You also need to remember that unlike a real signature, the Preview app for some reason doesn’t allow you to break the line. Your signature will need to be in one continuous motion, without picking up your finger.

Scanning A Signature Drawn With Pen And Paper

It took me a lot of time to get a hang of using the touchpad to draw out my signature. And even then it was nowhere near as good as the real thing. If that’s the case for you as well, Preview has a solution: a camera scanning tool.

Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Take a clean white piece of paper and draw out your signature with legible black ink. Don’t make the signature tiny either.

PDF Preview

Step 2: From the same Sign utility, select the Camera option and hold the piece of paper in front of your MacBook’s camera. It will scan your signature from the piece of paper.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 3.31.12 pm

Save signatures for later use: When you create a signature, either via the touchpad or the camera, Preview saves it to the app automatically. The next time you click on the Sign button you’ll see a list of all the saved signatures that you can insert into any document with just a click.

Did This Signature Solution Work For You?

Was your first experience signing your name with a touchpad as comical as mine? Did you get used to it or did you resort to scanning your signature via the camera? Let us know in the comments below.

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