It’s no surprise then that you can now electronically sign documents, using your email address as verification of identity. Many similar online tools require payment for the service, but thebeta is completely free (at least for now).
So if you’re half way across the world, printer-phobic and need to sign a contract (as this writer has recently experienced) you might want to try convincing your boss to use Adobe eSignatures.
This service cannot be used to just sign any document, and if it’s your job to collect the signatures you’re going to need a PDF document (or at least the last “sign here” page) exported using Adobe Acrobat. PDF files created by freeware alternatives, such as CutePDF or PDF995, won’t work. The PDF file needs to have the “signing” digital permission enabled and it seems that only the paid Adobe Acrobat can achieve this. In Adobe Reader, you can see the status of the digital restrictions by going to File –>Properties and then going to the security tab.
If you see “Signing: Allowed” then you’re good to go with eSigning. If it says “not allowed” then you are out of luck. That’s pretty much the only catch, and once you’ve got your “signable” PDF the rest is as easy as pie.
If you’ve not already got one, you’re going to need to register an account with Adobe in order to collect your signatures. Once you’ve signed in you should see the document upload screen.
You can also add a short description to the document, handy if you’ve got lots of things to sign. On the next screen you’ll have an opportunity to input the email addresses of those required to sign the document. Be careful that you don’t input the wrong address by mistake because there seems to be no way to delete a signatory once it has been sent out.
Once you’ve included everyone select a due date, add a custom message if you think your counter-signatories need a bit more information and sign the document yourself (more on that shortly). It will then be emailed to each party specified, and a signature will be requested.
You can now monitor your document by clicking the Awaiting Your Signature link and choosing the correct PDF. You will be informed who has signed, and how long they’ve got left to do so.
Chances are you’re probably going to be the one who has to sign the PDF document, rather than request signatures (unless you’re in higher places). This is even easier, though you are going to need to sign up for an Adobe ID before you can sign.
You’ll probably have received an email notifying you of a document awaiting your signature, and within that email will be a link.
Click the link in the email to sign in and bring up the document you’ve been requested to sign. On a completely unrelated note, please remember to read what you’re signing. You don’t want to go signing your life away to the devil or anything.
Once you’ve read the document you might want to take a look at the Signatories box to the right. This contains the email addresses of everyone required to sign, and whether they’ve responded yet or not.
To sign the document with a default signature just click Sign. Congratulations, you have verified your identity using your email address and Adobe ID. You’ve also saved some trees and given the postal service a break.
If you’re a bit pickier about your signature and would actually like it to look like your real signature then you have the option to create a different profile. You can upload an image by clicking the Signature Profiles link to the left of your name.
A custom image won’t really add that much more validity to your eSignature, after all it works by verifying an individual through an email address. Still, it’s sometimes nice to add a personal touch.
If you need to sign something quickly and find organising trans-continental post a bit of a headache, Adobe eSignatures will probably do the trick. You’re going to need Adobe Acrobat (or a helpful friend with a copy) and about five minutes of your time.
Have you used an eSignature service before? Will you use one in future? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Image Credit – Shutterstock