How to digitally sign a PDF when you don't have access to a printer and scanner

  • You can digitally sign a PDF in several different ways.
  • The most popular software for digitally signing PDFs is Adobe Acrobat Reader, but other options exist on PCs, Macs, the internet, and mobile apps.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

These days, many people don’t own a printer or scanner, and with so many people working from home, something as simple as signing a document can quickly become tedious and frustrating. Fortunately, technology has come a long way, and it’s now possible to sign a PDF document digitally — no more printing or scanning required. Here’s our guide on how to digitally sign a PDF so you don’t have to buy printer ink again.

How to sign a PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader, the most popular PDF viewing software, has an electronic signature method that works for both PCs and Macs.

  1. Right-click (or Ctrl-click) on the PDF file you need to sign. Hover your cursor over “Open with” and click on “Adobe Acrobat Reader.”
  2. Click on the Fill & Sign icon, which is represented by a calligraphy pen.
    The Fill & Sign icon resembles a calligraphy pen.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  3. Click “Sign,” then click “Add Signature.” If you want to add your initials instead, click “Add Initials.”
     
    You can add your signature to the document or just your initials.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  4. In the field that appears, you are given the option to type your signature, draw it in using the mouse, or upload an image of it. Click on the option you prefer and fill in your signature. When you’re finished, click “Apply.”
     
    Adobe Acrobat Reader lets you sign documents via typing, drawing, or uploading an image of your signature.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  5. Click on the spot where you want your signature to appear. It will be recorded as its own field on the PDF. You can then resize and reposition the signature as needed.
     
    After placing your signature, you can resize it and move it around on the page.Chrissy Montelli/Insider

When you’re finished, make sure you save the PDF so that you don’t lose your work. You might want to save the PDF under a new name to differentiate your signed version from the unsigned version.

How to sign a PDF on a Mac using Preview

Mac computers include a program called Preview that lets you digitally sign PDFs.

  1. Open the PDF in Preview.
  2. Click on the “Sign” button, which resembles a signature. If you don’t see this button right away, click the “Show Markup Toolbar” icon. The Sign button should be visible once the Markup Toolbar is shown.
    Select “Show Markup Toolbar” from the top toolbar (if unselected) and then select “Sign” from the dropdown toolbar.Insider
  3. From there, you can create a signature in three different ways: by using your finger on the trackpad, by taking a picture of your signature using your Mac’s camera, or by using your finger or Apple Pencil on your iPhone or iPad and syncing it with your Mac. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process in the method you prefer.
  4. Click on the “Sign” button once more, and then click on the signature you just created. From there, you can place the signature in the appropriate spot on the PDF and resize it as needed.

How to sign a PDF on an iPhone or Android using Adobe Fill & Sign

If you’re using an iPhone or Android mobile device to digitally sign a PDF, you’ll want to download an app called Adobe Fill & Sign. Adobe Fill & Sign is available on most app stores and contains a brief tutorial on how to use its services.

  1. Install Adobe Fill & Sign on your mobile device. Once it’s installed, launch the application by tapping on it.
     
    You can download Adobe Fill & Sign for free on most app stores.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  2. Sign in to your Adobe account, or sign up for one if you don’t have one already.
  3. Tap on the PDF document you want to sign.
     
    Tap on the PDF you want to sign.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  4. On the toolbar toward the top of the screen, tap on the icon resembling a calligraphy pen. When a menu appears, tap “Create Signature.”
     
    Tap the calligraphy pen icon, then tap “Create Signature.”Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  5. Using your finger or a stylus, sign the screen within the appropriate field. When you’re done, tap “Done.”
     
    You can sign the PDF using your finger or a stylus.Chrissy Montelli/Insider
  6. Tap on the area where you’d like to place your signature, then tap on your signature in the upper-right corner of the screen. Afterward, you can resize and move your signature around on the document.
     
    You can resize and move your signature around once you’ve placed it on the page.Chrissy Montelli/Insider

How to sign a PDF online for free

If you only sign PDFs digitally occasionally, or you use a Chromebook, Adobe or Preview may not work for you. In this case, many websites and applications also exist online that allow you to digitally sign a PDF for free. Services like HelloSign and DocuSign are easy to use and allow you to digitally sign a certain number of PDFs per month before requiring any subscription fee. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to upload the PDF into the chosen site before you can sign it.

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