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Tech Tip: Signing Your Name in Digital Ink

Q. Typing in text on a PDF form is tidier and saves time, but on a touch-screen Windows 10 computer, is it possible to “sign” PDF forms on the screen — instead of having to download a filled-in form, print it out, sign it, scan it and mail it?

A. In Windows 10, you have at least two fairly simple ways to electronically scrawl your signature right on the dotted line. For one, you can use the annotation tools in the Microsoft Edge browser to sign a PDF document. Once you have filled out the text fields in the form open in the browser window, click the icon that looks like a moving ballpoint pen on the upper-right side of the Edge tool bar.

When the annotations tool bar opens, select the pen tool. When you tap the pen icon you can choose a digital ink color and thickness of the line. Close the box, scroll to the signature line on the PDF form and write your name with a stylus, fingertip or mouse pointer. Click the Save icon in the Edge tool bar to save a copy of the signed PDF form to your computer, where you can easily upload it elsewhere or send it as an email file attachment.


The annotation tools in Microsoft’s Edge browser for Windows 10 can be used to electronically sign your name to PDF files and other digital documents. Credit The New York Times

For those who are using older versions of Windows (or who have a Mac), or who do not use the Edge browser, you can also electronically sign PDF forms with the free Adobe Reader DC software. After you install the program (if you do not have it already), download the PDF form, enter your text and then click the Fill & Sign icon in the right pane of the window. Select the Sign icon that appears at the top of the window, choose Add Signature and the Draw icon, and write your name in digital ink. Click Apply and drag your signature to the proper place on the form.

Mac users can also sign and annotate PDF files using the built-in Preview program or the markup tools in the Mail app in macOS High Sierra. The Mail markup tools are available in the current version of the iOS software for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

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