The Mac Preview app has long included the ability to digitally sign documents with a signature, but up until the most recent versions of Mac OS X, users had to basically sign a piece of paper and then use the Macs front-facing camera to ‘scan’ and digitize the signature. That has changed with modern releases of Mac OS, and if your Mac is running Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, or newer, you can now sign documents using just a trackpad.
The trackpad signature feature of Preview is very easy to use though it remains a little hidden and isn’t necessarily obvious if you don’t know where to find it. Nonetheless, Previews signature tools are s so useful and make signing forms, contracts, and any other documents so easy, that all Mac users absolutely must know how to use it.
How to Sign a Document Using the Trackpad Signature Tool in Preview for Mac OS X
In this example we’re going to be signing a PDF file, but you can apply the signatures to literally any file that will open within Preview app.
- Open the document to sign within Preview app
- Click on the little toolbox / briefcase looking icon near the right side of the documents toolbar, this will reveal the Preview Toolbar
- Click on the scribble (signature) icon
- Choose “Trackpad” and then click within the box to start drawing the signature (the Camera option is described here)
- Click on Done, then select the signature from the scribble icon to place the signature onto the document, drag it into place and resize it as appropriate
- Save the file with the signature as usual
With your file saved, you can email the signed document, upload it through a web form, whatever else is necessary. The signature you created with the trackpad gets saved into Preview app, so you can quickly access it again in the future to sign a document just by selecting it from the Signature button. Unless you want to use a new or different signature, you don’t need to go through the creation steps again.
This trackpad method is really the simplest and quickest way to sign something on your Mac, and it works with any trackpad, be it the Magic Trackpad or one built into a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Let’s hope a similar feature comes to the iPhone and iPad too.
Remember that it wasn’t terribly long ago that if you needed to sign and email a document to someone, you had to print out the file, sign it with a pen, and then scan that printed document back into the computer. And let’s face it, many Windows and Mac users still do the print & sign & scan routine, particularly those who are not aware that the signature feature is included in Mac OS X! The next time you need to sign something? Just use your trackpad, or if you’re not running the latest versions of Mac OS X, use the camera to scan a signature instead, both are easy and work very well.
Remember, the ability to sign a document using your trackpad on the Mac requires a modern release of Mac OS, anything beyond 10.10 system software will have this feature in Preview for Mac.