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Use OS X Preview to Sign Your Documents

by: E. Werner Reschke | Jun 11, 2014

Let OS X Preview Sign Your DocumentsPreview has come a long ways since its introduction to OS X. Preview used to be just another tool to read PDF documents. But today you can open and edit most any graphics file — from Photoshop to Illustrator to PNGs — and of course PDFs. One of the newest and most productive features found in Preview is the ability to electronically sign documents with your signature. This saves an incredible amount of time and eliminates the hassle of having to print a document, sign it, scan it, then email it — or worse, fax it. Once you start using this single feature it will be like going from the 19th Century where running water meant going to the nearby stream for your day’s supply of water, to the 21st where water is just a twist away — and at various temperatures.

The E-SIGN Act, passed by Congress in June, 2000, is the premier federal law ensuring the legality of documents executed with e-signatures in the United States. The E-SIGN Act states that contracts with electronic signatures may not be denied legal effect or ruled unenforceable because they were created digitally.1  Here’s how the Signature feature works in Preview.

First, Create and Capture a Signature in OS X Preview

Capture Signature in OS X Preview

  1. Open Preview
  2. Select Preview :: Preferences
  3. Click the Signatures tab
  4. Click the “Create Signature” button
  5. Your Mac’s camera turns on and you are asked to place a version of your signature in front of the camera on the blue line seen on the screen. Use a pen with black ink. For  those with delicate strokes, it is a good idea to use a thicker pen, rather than just a ball point. When you like what you see on the screen, press the Accept button.
  6. Your signature is now ready for use in PDF documents.

What is nice is you can have more than one signature at the ready. So you can create an official one, maybe a friendly one with your first name and so forth.

How to Use Preview Signature

  1. Open a document with Preview.
  2. Find in the document where you want to insert your signature.
  3. From the Tools menu, select Annotate, then Signature (at the bottom) and find your signature.
  4. Then click in the document where you want your signature to be placed and adjust the size and position as desired.

OS X Preview Signature

One you see how powerful Preview’s Signature feature is, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Moreover, you’ll have yet another reason to laugh at those who still work like cavemen by printing, signing, scanning and emailing/faxing documents back and forth (if you don’t already).

Signature in OS X Yosemite Mail

At this year’s Keynote presentation at WWDC 14, Apple announced a very similar signature feature in OS X Yosemite Mail. Odds are that Signature in Yosemite Mail will work very similar to how it works today in OS X Preview. What’s more, it would only make sense for the two apps to share the same signature library. But to confirm those suspicions we’ll need to wait for the public beta in July. Until then, enjoy Signatures in OS X Preview.


1 - Information according to E-Signature.com

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