How to Electronically Sign PDF Documents Without Printing and Scanning Them

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to sign a document and send it back ASAP, but didn’t have access to a printer or scanner? Perhaps you’ve been emailed a contract, a permission slip for your kid’s school trip, or a non-disclosure agreement that needs your immediate attention. If you thought your only option was to print out the document, sign it, scan it, and then email it back, think again. There’s a simpler, faster way to get the job done! The key to saving your time is to Electronically Sign the documents and avoid the whole process of running around.

Today, we’ll guide you on how to Electronically Sign on any PDF document swiftly and without the need for printing or scanning. And guess what? This method works across different platforms—Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Chrome OS, and even Linux!

Electronically Sign

To Electronically Sign or to Digitally Sign

Before we begin, let’s clarify a common point of confusion. This guide covers how to add electronic signatures, not digital signatures. While they might sound like they’re the same thing, they’re quite different.

A digital signature is cryptographically secure and verifies that someone with your private signing key—in other words, you—has seen the document and authorized it. It’s very secure but quite complex.

On the other hand, an electronic signature is simply an image of your signature overlaid on top of a PDF document. It’s what most people will require when they send you a document to sign. You can create it with many different apps. Send them a PDF file with a digital signature, and they might not know what to make of it.

Sure, electronic signatures may not be perfectly secure, but they’re no less secure than printing something, signing it with a pen, and then scanning it again. At least this way is faster!

How to Electronically Sign on Different Platforms

Now, let’s dive into how you can create electronic signatures on different platforms:

1. Electronically Sign through Windows: Use Adobe Reader

For Windows users, Adobe Reader is a handy tool. While it’s not the most lightweight PDF viewer, it’s one of the most feature-packed and has excellent support for signing PDF documents.

Once you’ve opened your PDF document in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, click on the “Fill & Sign” button in the right pane. Next, click the “Sign” button on the toolbar and select “Add Signature.” You can either type, draw, or upload an image of your signature. After creating a signature, click “Apply” to apply it to the document. Remember to save the signed PDF!

Electronically Sign

2. Mac: Use Preview

If you’re a Mac user, you’re in luck! The Preview application included with macOS has integrated document-signing features. Simply open a PDF document in Preview, click the toolbox-shaped “Show Markup Toolbar” button, and then click the “Sign” button on the toolbar that appears. You can either create a signature by dragging your finger over the trackpad or by signing a piece of paper and scanning it with your webcam.

3. iPhone and iPad: Use Mail or Adobe Fill & Sign

On an iPhone or iPad, you can sign documents using the markup feature in the Mail app. Alternatively, you can use Adobe’s Adobe Fill & Sign app, which allows you to sign an unlimited number of documents for free. Just open the PDF in the app, tap the signature button to sign them, and then share the signed document with another app.

4. Electronically Sign by Android: Use Adobe Fill & Sign

Similar to iOS, Android doesn’t come with a built-in app for this. You’ll need a third-party app like Adobe Fill & Sign, which allows you to sign an unlimited number of documents a month for free.

signatures on adobe

5. Chromebook: Use HelloSign

For Chromebook users, you can use web signing services like HelloSign. Its good web interface and Chrome app that integrates with Google Drive makes it a convenient tool.

6. Linux: It’s Complicated

Signing PDFs on Linux is a bit trickier, as Adobe Reader for Linux was discontinued. You may want to try a web-based tool like HelloSign. For a desktop app, Xournal is probably the most convenient tool for signing PDFs on Linux. You can annotate PDFs, adding images to them. This method may require scanning an image file once, but you can use it quickly to sign documents in the future.

Electronically Sign

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Wrapping Up

In the digital age, paperless solutions are not just environmentally friendly—they’re faster, easier, and more convenient too. With the tips provided above, you should be able to electronically sign PDFs quickly and easily, no matter what device or operating system you’re using. No printer, scanner, or pen is necessary! Just a few clicks, and you’re good to go. Signing PDFs electronically is another step in the progression of leveraging digital capabilities for efficiency and convenience. By learning these skills, you’re staying updated with modern workflows, reducing paper usage, and thereby contributing to a greener planet.

Finally, before sending a signed PDF document, it’s always a good idea to open it back up and check the signature. Ensure it’s visible, properly placed, and appears exactly how you want it to look. This little step is a great habit to get into as it can save potential misunderstandings or miscommunications down the line.

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