Sunday, June 26, 2022

How to Create a Signature for PDF Documents on a PC

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Shreya Christina
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Nowadays, more and more official papers are converted into PDF documents. (PDF stands for Portable Document Format; it’s a standard created by Adobe in the early 1990s that converts paper documents into exact digital copies.) In fact, paperwork is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule . But digital documents must also be signed. You can go far — print those documents, sign them, and then scan them back into your computer — or you can create a digital signature and place it directly in the PDF.

Windows does not provide a built-in PDF signing feature like a Mac does. However, you can use Windows’ built-in browser, Microsoft Edge, to sign a PDF document. There are also third-party apps that you can download that give you the same opportunity.

In this article, I’ll first discuss how to use Edge to add a signature, and then I’ll do the same with Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Adobe’s free PDF reader.

Using Microsoft Edge to create a signature

  • Locate your PDF file in the file manager. Right click on the file and open it with Microsoft Edge.
  • The file opens in Edge’s PDF reader. Click the Draw icon (it looks like a pencil pointing down).
  • If you have a touchscreen, the Draw with touch option is automatically enabled (the icon looks like a hand)
  • Use your cursor (or, if you have a touchscreen, your finger) to sign the PDF, then save the document.

You can sign a PDF in Edge, but you can’t save your signature.

While this is a good, quick way to sign a PDF document, it means going through the same process every time. It would be a lot easier if you could just put your signature in the document.

One way to do this is to write a signature, photograph it and download it as a PDF or graphic file.

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader DC to create a signature

  • Download Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. Adobe has an unfortunate tendency to encourage people to download redundant apps, so be sure to disable any extra installations that appear on the page: in my case, it was two McAfee apps and Acrobat’s Chrome extension. (You can install the latter later if you think it might be helpful.)

  • After clicking “Download Adobe Reader”, you can start the installation by clicking on the downloaded .EXE file.

It's a good idea to uncheck Adobe's offers before downloading Acrobat Reader

It’s a good idea to disable Adobe’s offers before downloading Acrobat Reader.

Once installed, Acrobat Reader will open. There will be a list of all the PDFs you have opened recently. If the file you want to use is listed, highlight the file. On the right side there should now be a column with a thumbnail of the document along with several functions, one of which will be: Fill in & sign† Select that and your document will open in the Fill & Sign feature.

Click on “Fill & Sign

Click “Fill & Sign” and then “Select a File” to choose a PDF file to work on.

  • If the file is not there, go to the left menu and click My computer to find the PDF file you want to sign and double-click it to move it to the Acrobat editing window.
  • Look for a small “Ab” next to your cursor. If not, find the Fill in & sign icon at the bottom right (it looks like a pencil) and make sure it’s highlighted.
  • Once activated, click where you want the signature to appear; you will see a small box that allows you to sign by typing your name into your form. (If there is a signature line anywhere in the document and you click near it, the box will automatically align with the line.
  • To sign by actually signing your signature or save a typed or drawn signature, tap Draw yourself just above the main screen.

Select 'Add signature'.  After you save your signature, it will appear in this drop-down menu.

Select ‘Add signature’. After you save your signature, it will appear in this drop-down menu.

  • You have the option to: Add signature or Add initials† For now click Add signature
  • A pop-up window gives you three ways to sign your document: type your name (Adobe supplies you with several handwritten fonts), sign your signature (using your touchpad or directly on a touchscreen), or upload an image of your signature. Make sure that Save signature is checked if you don’t want to rewrite it.

There are several ways you can create a signature

There are several ways you can create a signature.

  • Once you hit To apply, your PDF document will come back. Place your new signature where you want it on the document and left click. You can then change the size or placement of the signature if desired.

Now place your signature where you want it.

Now place your signature where you want it.

And you’re done! Now to add your signature to a PDF, open your document with Adobe Acrobat Reader and click the Draw yourself icon. You can then select your saved signature and place it on your PDF document where you need it. (The Add initials option works the same, but gives you less space, so you can only add initials.) To change your signature, click the minus sign next to the signature and try again.

Your signature is now available whenever you need it.

Your signature is now available whenever you need it.

Adobe has also made available an online app that allows you to fill out and sign a PDF. Open it in your browser and drag a PDF into the window or click the Select a file knob. At that point, you will be prompted to sign in or register with an Adobe, Facebook, Apple, or Google account. You can then type or sign your document the same way you would with the desktop app.

Adobe's online signing tool

The online version of Adobe’s Fill & Sign is very similar to the app.

Other options

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC isn’t the only app that lets you read and/or edit a PDF document for free, although there are fewer alternatives than before. For example, Sign Well you can sign up to three documents per month for free. Adobe Reader has no restrictions on your ability to sign documents, but if you want to create a PDF or export it to another format, you must have the Pro version.

Update May 9, 11:40 AM ET: This article was originally published on March 11, 2021. Instructions for signing a PDF with Microsoft Edge were added on November 3, 2021. More recently, some directions of the Adobe app have been changed, several free alternatives have disappeared, and a description of the Adobe online app has been added.

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