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The quickest way to sign your important documents on a Mac

You don't need a third-party app or online service to sign your important documents -- there's a built-in MacOS tool for that.

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Your Mac already has everything you need to quickly sign a document. 
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The easiest way to sign your documents is on your computer. All you have to do is download the right document, sign with your finger and then send the document via email or print it out. It's a streamlined process, but if you're a Mac owner, you may be signing your documents the wrong way.

You might be using third-party software like Adobe Acrobat Reader to sign your important documents like lease papers or taxes, but there's another, easier way to do it. Using the Preview application, which comes built-in to MacOS, you can sign pretty much any document in seconds.

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The first step is to input your signature on your Mac (more below). Then every time after that you'll simply select the signature you saved, and your Mac will apply it to the document that needs to be signed. Easy peasy. 

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Add your signature with just a couple of clicks. 

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

How to input your digital signature on your Mac

The first thing you'll need to do is add your signature to your Mac, which you can do within Preview. To start:

  1. Open the document you want to sign in Preview.
  2. Now, click on the Markup icon. 
  3. Next, click the Signature button. 
  4. Select Create Signature

Apple will sync your signature with your iCloud account, making it available in Preview on any Mac you've signed in to with your Apple ID. 

You have three options to create a digital version of your signature: 

  • Trackpad: Select this option if you want to write your signature on your Mac's trackpad using your finger.
  • Camera: Sign a piece of paper and then hold it up to your Mac's camera. Preview will recognize your writing, then digitize it.
  • iPhone/iPad: Select this option to write your signature on a connected device.
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Move and resize your signature while adding it to your document. 

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

How to add your signature to a PDF

Now that setup is done, your signature is in the system and you'll see just how fast it is to sign documents in Preview. 

With your document open in Preview, follow the same process we just outlined, except that after clicking on the signature button, click on your signature. 

A small box that includes your signature will show up in the document, which you can then drag around and resize. After you've lined up your signature, you can save the document and then share it. 

I timed how long it takes me to open a document and click the appropriate buttons to add a signature, and I was able to get it done in under a minute, and that includes adding the date by clicking on the add text button in Preview. 

Now that you've mastered signing documents at record speed, make sure to check out even more hidden Mac tips and this hidden MacOS feature that lets you use your voice to quickly type on your Mac.