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8/2/2011
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How To Add PDF Signatures In OS X 10.7 Lion

Here's how to add electronic signatures to PDF documents in OS X Lion.

OS X Lion includes a new version of Preview that offers many new features. Among its most significant: the ability to capture and store signatures.

Preview takes advantage of your Mac’s built-in video camera to capture handwritten signatures. You can use those later for annotating documents. Here’s how to use this new capability.

First, open the Applications folder on your Mac. Launch Preview.


Select Preferences from the Preview menu.


Now, open Signatures, as seen below.


Select Create Signature.


Now grab a blank piece of white paper without lines and write your signature on it with a black ink pen. Black will work better than any other color for this purpose.

Then, take that piece of paper and hold it in front of your Mac's video camera. Carefully adjust the distance and placement of your signature in front of the camera. Make sure you line it up over the blue line and within the box that Apple provides--shown below.


Ignore the fact that the signature is reversed while displayed in the box. Preview will fix that automatically.

After you click Accept, the system stores your signature and now you can use it to annotate your PDF documents.


After you’ve captured a signature, you can add it to PDFs. In this example, we’ll show you how to add a signature to a letter to Steve Jobs (BYTE knows how many of you probably do this). Don’t actually write him, though, or at least don't say BYTE told you to!

Launch Preview, click the File menu, and select Open. A dialog will open. Use it to navigate to your PDF. Click that file to select it, and then click Open to load it into Preview.


In our example letter to Steve Jobs, note that there is no signature . . . yet.


To add the signature, turn on the annotate tool bar by clicking the icon that looks like a crayon--indicated below.


Select the signature icon on the tool bar and a drop down will appear with the signature. Select it.


The signature will appear within your document and you can then drag it around to place it where you prefer.


Save the letter with the signature added.


Now, in order to confirm that adding the signature worked, load it into Adobe Acrobat. If you don’t have Acrobat, close Preview and double-click your file to check to see if the signature is intact.


This is an accessible, easy-to-use new feature in Preview.

Based in Houston David Martin is a senior contributor at BYTE. Follow him @David_W_Martin or email him at David.Martin@BYTE.com.

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