How to Sign a PDF Document Electronically Without Printing and Scanning Them

Almost always, the answer to the question “How to sign a pdf document?” has been “Just print it, sign it, scan it and send it.” Yet, there’s always an easier way, a way to do it electronically. It can be done on every platform out there, and it can be rather simple. Read on to find out how.

Terminology – Electronic Vs. Digital Signatures

A digital signature is not the same as an electronic one. Digital signatures have cryptographic security. In other words, it proves that you’ve seen a document and approved of it by signing it digitally. An electronic signature is a picture of what your signature looks like. You can scan it from anywhere, even a blank piece of paper with nothing BUT your signature on it. When people want your signature on a PDF document, they want an electronic one.

So now you know the difference. It’s time you learned how to actually use it.

How to Sign a PDF in Windows

The best program to use here is Adobe Acrobat Reader. It costs a lot of money and takes up space, but it has lots of useful features, especially for signatures.

First, you need to open the document you have to sign in the Acrobat reader, then select the button “Fill & Sign.”

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

Picking the “Sign” button gives you the option “Add Signature.” There are more options, but let’s focus on signing for now. One of the ways you can make a signature is to type your name and generate one. However, this will not look like your actual signature, so it’s best not to try this option. “Draw” will give you the ability to actually “write” your signature with a touchscreen or a mouse. The third option is “Image.” You essentially sign a piece of paper, scan it, and then use the image of your signature as a default for Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Clicking on “Apply” will add the signature to your document, and clicking on “Save Signature” will do just that – save it for later use. Saving the PDF document is the same as saving anything else.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

How to Sign a PDF in Mac

Mac has an application called the Preview, and it comes with features that allow you to sign integrated documents. You can even do this using the Mac trackpad and your finger. Moreover, new trackpad versions have pressure sensitivity. You can have a clear-looking electronic signature in no time. Mac users with no trackpads can always scan physical signatures using the webcam.

First, you need to open the PDF document in Preview, and then click “Show Markup Toolbar.” You should be able to see the “Sign” button there. Once you click it, the program will ask you to either sign via the trackpad or scan a signature on paper. Whichever option you choose, Preview will remember the signature for future uses.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

An image of your signature will be made, and you can literally drag it anywhere to use it. Finally, you can save your PDF, or even create a copy by clicking “duplicate”. This will save only a copy of the document with the changes you’ve made, i.e. with the signature.

How to Sign a PDF on Your iPhone or iPad

Apple products are usually synced, so you can simply use the signature you made on your Mac via Preview. However, you can also use the markup feature that exists in the Mail app of the iOS. The feature only works with signing documents in this app. The first thing you need to do is receive a PDF file in an email. Once you tap the PDF file, click on “Markup and Reply” and get ready to add your signature.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

Merely tap the signature button which is at the bottom of the screen, in the right corner. Next, tap “Done” and an automatic response email is created with the attached PDF file.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

As stated, this option can only work if you get an email. For anything else, using Adobe’s Fill & Sign can work. In fact, it works even better on these platforms as you can literally use your finger to sign a document.

The first step for these apps is to locate the PDF and click “Share,” choosing Fill & Sign. Once you’re done, choose “Share” within Fill & Sign and begin sharing the new document.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

There are other apps that can do this too, such as SignNow, but Fill & Sign might be enough.

How to Sign a PDF in Android

The process is literally the same as is with iPhones and iPads. Simply download Adobe Fill & Sign and follow the steps above. The same goes with SignNow.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

How to Sign a PDF in Chromebook

Chromebook allows for lots of different signing features, with HelloSign being one of the best. It can also work with Google Drive, and you can sign as much as three documents for free during the course of a month.

This program lets you upload the PDF document and either use an image or a mouse to enter your signature. You will then be able to send the document via email to anyone directly. On top of that, you can download the document and use it to whatever purpose you choose.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

DocuSign is also a good app, but it’s one you have to pay for before you can sign anything. The steps for signing documents are also largely similar to those of HelloSign.

How to Sign a PDF in Linux

Linux comes last because most of the apps you could use in Windows or Mac aren’t available for this OS. This includes Adobe Reader, Okular, and Evince. HelloSign might work, but there are other services that work better.

Xournal, for example, can help you sign documents electronically in Linux. First, you have to make a physical signature on a piece of paper and scan it. Once you install Xournal, open the PDF document you want signed and then click on “Tools,” followed by “Image.” You can now take the image of your signature and insert it into the PDF. Moreover, you can resize and reposition it wherever you want to.

How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents

It’s true that signing documents by hand is not the most convenient way of doing things. However, all you really need is a good image of your signature. Once you have that, you will be able to add it to future documents more easily. Just make sure the background of your signature is either transparent or completely white. That way it will look better once you paste it into the document.


Most of these options listed on how to sign a PDF document offer other features as well. For instance, you can fill in specific fields, such as address details, numbers, etc. Therefore, it’s probably a good thing to get one of these programs as soon as possible and enjoy all of the things they have to offer, signature-wise.


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