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By Garrick Chow |

Sign a PDF Document with Your Webcam

Sign a PDF form with your webcam

It’s Small Business Week, and we have a handy tip for small business owners—who have to approve and sign a multitude of forms, invoices, and documents throughout any week. More often than not these days, forms are transmitted electronically; lots of people still sign these forms by printing out a copy, signing it with a pen, scanning it, and then emailing the scan back to the sender.

But there are easier ways.

Jess Stratton recently offered a Monday Productivity Pointer demonstrating how to use the free Adobe Reader to electronically sign a PDF by drawing your signature with your mouse.

Another way is to use your computer’s built-in webcam to grab a photo of your signature and store it to apply to any documents you need to sign in the future.

Start by signing your name on a white piece of paper.

Windows Users

Fire up Adobe Reader and open the PDF document you want to sign.

From the menu bar, choose View > Sign, which opens the Sign panel on the right of the window. Click Place Signature.


In the window that opens, select Use a webcam and click Start Webcam in the video preview area.


Hold your signature up to your camera and line it up with the blue line in the preview area. When it looks right to you, click Accept.


Click to place your newly scanned signature into the document. Use the handles to resize the signature and adjust its position as necessary.

To sign documents in the future, just click the Place Signature button again to sign with your scanned signature.

Mac Users

The Mac version of Reader doesn’t currently support scanning your signature with a webcam, but the built-in Preview app, found in your Applications folder, does. Open the PDF you want to sign in Preview, and from the menu bar choose View > Show Edit Toolbar.


Click the Signature button and choose Create Signature from FaceTime Camera.


In the window that opens, you’ll see a live image from your camera. Hold your signature up to your camera so it lines up with the blue line. Keep an eye on the Signature Preview area to the right. When your signature looks right to you, click Accept. (By default, your signature image will be saved so you can use it again in the future without having to scan the image again. If you prefer not to save your signature in Preview, uncheck “Save this signature for use after Preview quits” before clicking Accept.)


To sign the PDF, click the Signature button again, and choose your signature.


Then draw a rectangle on the document where you want your signature to appear. Adjust its size and placement as necessary.

Once you have your signature scanned into either Reader or Preview, you’ll be able to quickly sign off on documents in the future.

For more information on working with forms in Adobe Acrobat, check out Acrobat XI: Creating Forms with Claudia McCue.

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