How to Sign a PDF: The Best Tools for Electronic Signatures

Kayla Matthews 20-02-2018

Signing digital documents by hand is tedious. Print, sign, scan, right? Fortunately, electronic signatures Is Your Electronic Signature Legal Around the World? Are electronic signatures valid and legal around the world? Are they more preferable to the inked handwritten signature in a paperless world? We look at what the law says globally. Read More are on the rise.


Maybe you want to add a signature to a PDF contract or a registration form. We’ll show you how to electronically sign a PDF. Here is a selection of free and paid tools to conveniently sign PDF documents from your PC or phone.

1. PDF Buddy

This tool lets you sign or edit up to three PDF files every month for free. It’s a smart solution if you work with PDFs only occasionally. It’s also a browser-based tool The Best Free PDF Tools for Offices Running Windows or Mac You can assemble a free suite of advanced PDF tools to edit, sign, merge, and split PDFs. We'll show you the best PDF apps for Windows and Mac. Read More that works on your Mac, PC, or Chromebook.

To get started, look for the orange Choose PDF to Edit button on the right. Click it and select a PDF file EasyPDFCloud: Easily Convert Documents To PDF, Word, & Image Formats Read More from your computer.

Once the PDF appears on your screen, you’ll see a menu option on the left. Choose the Signature button from it. (You’ll have to sign up for a free account if you haven’t already done so.)

sign pdf with pdf buddy


Then, select an option from the popup box. You can pick a signature image file from your computer or draw a signature for the PDF. Past signatures from files signed with PDF Buddy display in the bottom of that options box.

create signature with pdf buddy

If you decide to draw your signature, the tool will bring up a box on the screen. Use your mouse cursor to write your name. After making either signature choice click Use, which will allow you to move and place it as needed in the document.

When you’re done, click Save changes (just to be safe) and then Download your signed PDF.


save changed in pdf buddy

This free tool is easy to use, and it doesn’t require downloading software. However, it’s not suitable if you want to sign PDFs on a mobile device.

Use: PDF Buddy (Free)

2. HelloSign

HelloSign offers bank-level security for signed PDF documents. It works in the cloud HelloSign: Use Electronic Signatures On Documents [Web & iOS] Read More , which gives peace of mind when working with and saving files.


Integrations with popular applications like Google Docs, Dropbox, and OneNote add user-friendliness. HelloSign permits in-person signatures on mobile devices but works in browsers too.

After signing up or logging in, look at the menu on the left. Find the Sign Documents header and choose who is signing the document. If it’s just you, select Just Me.

sign pdf with hellosign

Then, click on the icon that looks like the bottom part of a downward arrow. It’s to the right of your email address in the top right corner. Select Create a Signature.


create signature with hellosign

Then, choose one of the options in the box. When finished, click the Select button at the bottom right.

select signature in hellosign

Next, upload the PDF file that needs a signature. Once it’s been uploaded, you’ll see an option to Fill Out & Sign. Click that button.

fill out and sign pdf with hellosign

When the document opens, click the Signature button at the upper left. Pick the desired signature, then click the Insert button. You can drag the signature across the document to place as needed.

After editing the PDF file, click the Continue button at the upper right. Doing so saves the file to your HelloSign account.

finish pdf signature with hellosign

If using a mobile device, select that you want to open a PDF file with the HelloSign app. Then, look for the signature option along the bottom of your screen.

Whether signing with a computer or mobile device, the prompts to sign a document are straightforward. It’s also easy to find signed materials by logging into your HelloSign account.

Download: HelloSign for iOS | Android (Free up to 3 docs/mo, Premium starting at $13/mo)

3. Smallpdf’s eSign Feature

Smallpdf offers many PDF editing tools, but the one applicable in this case is the eSign option.

Once you see the purple box on the screen, drag your PDF into it or click the Choose File link. Notice the options on the right that integrate with Dropbox and Google Drive too.

sign pdf with smallpdf

Smallpdf provides 256-bit SSL encryption during file transfers. Also, all files automatically erase from the Smallpdf servers after one hour.

After choosing your PDF, Smallpdf will prompt you to create your signature. Use your mouse or trackpad to draw it in the field provided. No worries, if your handwriting sucks (like mine), Smallpdf automatically cleans up your signature a little bit to make it look more uniform and fluid.

Click Save when you’re happy(ish) with your signature.

create signature with smallpdf

You’ll then be redirected to the PDF you uploaded earlier. The available signatures appear in a window on your screen. Choose one by clicking on it and clicking the Place Signature button. You can change the size and positioning of the signature if desired.

place signature with smallpdf

Drag the signature to its desired place in the document. When it’s exactly the way you want it, click Apply in the bottom right-hand corner.

You can then download your signed PDF!

download signed file with smallpdf

Like PDF Buddy, this tool works in your browser and has simple functionality. You’ll have a signed PDF in under a minute. However, also similar to PDF Buddy, this tool does not have a mobile app equivalent. It does, however, have a desktop app that you can download for a free trial.

Use: SmallPDF eSign (Free)

4. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC

Far from just a PDF signing tool, this Adobe product is for PDF power users. It lets you create and edit PDFs and change page order. It’s even possible to password protect the PDFs How to Password Protect a PDF: Free and Paid Options Yes, you can password protect your PDF! It's a great way to secure PDF files. We show you free and professional tools to add a password to your PDF. Read More you upload here.

For our purposes though, we’ll focus on the program’s Fill & Sign capabilities.

sign pdf with adobe acrobat pro dc

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a paid solution. It costs $14.99 per month The Adobe Acrobat Pro DC Mini Guide for Managing PDFs Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is a comprehensive solution for managing PDFs. This article covers the key features you must know to create and edit PDFs like a pro. Read More , but you get a one-week trial. Before beginning the trial period, you must provide payment details. You won’t get billed until the trial finishes.

You can use this program on PCs, Macs, and its complementing mobile apps.

Locate the Forms & Signatures header and choose the Fill & Sign option from underneath it. Doing so brings up a small toolbar. Select Sign from it.

select signature with adobe acrobat pro dc

You can import a signature image or draw a signature.

After saving your signature, it appears on the screen after you click Sign. Then, move the signature around on the document as needed.

sign pdf with adobe acrobat pro dc

Adobe’s Fill & Sign features are quick and simple. However, if you need to sign only a PDF, the cost may not be worthwhile.

Download: Adobe Acrobat Pro DC ($14.99/mo)
Download: Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS | Android (Free with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC access)

5. JotNot Signature

JotNot Signature is an iOS application that permits the signing of PDFs. It also allows you to make basic annotations.

sign pdf with jotnot signature

One potential perk is that it enables password protecting individual files. You can also lock the app with a password, which limits access to authorized users.

As you can see from the screenshot, it’s possible to access saved signatures or make new ones. The app supports sharing signed documents via email or uploading them to iCloud, too.

This app is ideal if you want to occasionally do more than sign PDFs. Whether adding a signature or doing something else, it’s is a reliable and hassle-free choice.

Download: JotNot Signature for iOS ($4.99)

6. SignNow

SignNow works in your browser or on a mobile device.

To start signing, click or tap the signature field on a PDF. After you do that, a popup box appears. It lets you type or draw a signature, or upload a relevant image. Select your preferred method by clicking one of the tabs on the top of the box.

sign pdf with signnow

All SignNow signatures are legally valid. If you choose to type your signature, pick one of several font choices. When drawing your signature, use your mouse or your finger.

Make sure to click the Make This My Signature checkbox before pressing the Add button.

Names of available tool options vary slightly on mobile devices, but they’re pretty self-explanatory.

SignNow offers reasonable prices for personal use. However, you pay for the service on an annual basis after the free trial ends. The yearly pricing structure may not be your preference for occasional use. But SignNow isn’t hard to use and offers desktop or mobile options.

With those things in mind, you may decide it’s worth the cost.

Download: SignNow for iOS | Android ($5/mo)

Signing PDFs: Free or Paid?

This list demonstrates that you have numerous options for signing PDFs. That’s true regardless of whether you’re willing to download paid software or want a browser-based tool Is a Free PDF Editor Good Enough? Adobe Acrobat Pro DC vs. PDFescape Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is Adobe's newest PDF editor. But does a free alternative like PDFescape offer all the features you need? We'll find out. Read More .

When making your choice, it’s a good idea to keep intended tasks and usage frequency in mind. A paid solution may not be feasible for using a couple of times a month. However, if you work with PDFs often, a free tool might not have enough features.

Related topics: PDF, PDF Editor.

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  1. Siahara Shyne Carter
    May 27, 2020 at 4:14 am

    Thanks for the info! Indeed for personal stuff

  2. Nk
    February 21, 2018 at 12:19 am

    Personaly i use Nitro PDF

  3. E
    February 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Foxit Reader is free and has a great PDF sign feature that lets you manage multiple signatures and secure each signature with a password if needed. You can draw them or import them as well.