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This is the easiest way to sign PDFs on a Mac, period.

You don't need an app or online service to sign documents -- there's a tool built into your Mac.


Your Mac already has everything you need to quickly sign a document. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

From managing your kids' screen time to finding time to go shopping for essentials, to learning new methods to get work done without all of the normal tools you had at your disposal in an office, working from home during a pandemic has its fair share of challenges. 

Something as simple as signing a PDF or other document, for example, quickly turns into a tedious process of printing, singing, scanning and then emailing -- and at the end of all that, you have a piece of paper you no longer need. 

But if you own a Mac, you can use the built-in Preview app to sign a document in under a minute, once you've gone through the initial setup process -- this is one of my favorite hidden features on Mac. The first step is to input your signature to 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. 


Add your signature with just a couple of clicks. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to input your digital signature on your Mac

1. Open your document in Preview

2. Click on the Pen icon. 

3. 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: Selecting 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: Select this option to write your signature on your nearby iPhone's screen.

Move and resize your signature while adding it to your document. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to add your signature to a PDF

Now that setup is done, your signature is now in the system and you'll see just how fast Preview is at signing documents. 

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 just 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. New to Mac? Here's what you should do after unboxing it. And, don't forget, iTunes is dead, but that doesn't mean you can't sync your iPhone to your computer. Here's how.

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