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How to Add Electronic Signs to PDFs with Popular Platforms

When you needed to sign a PDF previously, there were multiple steps, including printing, signing, and scanning. It required several machines and devices, which would cost time on this task. Modern technologies have come out to offer you a paperless solution. You can sign documents with an electronic signature with such tools.

This article introduces the most popular platforms and shows you the steps to sign.

Which is the Best Tool to E-sign a PDF

Ease of use
Platform Availability
Free or Not
Mac Preview Easy, but sometimes not acceptable Sign Mac Yes High
Adobe Acrobat Reader Difficult eSign, editing, organization, etc. Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android No High
DocuSign Easy eSign Online Free trial High


Easy eSign, digital signature, editing, OCR, conversion, merging, compressing, etc. Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android Free trial High
Wondershare Document Cloud Medium eSign, Cloud Storage, File Sharing, Online Annotations and Comments, etc. Online Free trial High
iLovepdf Easy eSign, split, compressing, conversion, etc. Online Free trial Low
Smallpdf Medium eSign, merging, editing, conversion, etc. Online Free trial High

A Short Comparison Conclusion

By comparison, the differences are clear between these popular tools. PDFelement ranks top due to its free pricing, various functions, ease of use, supporting all systems, and guarantee of information.

How to Electronically Sign a PDF on a PC

Method 1. PDFelement

Wondershare PDFelement - PDF Editor also supports computers, with choices for both systems of macOS and Windows. It's very easy to use. You can complete signing a document in only 4 steps.

Step 1Activate the Signature feature

After launching the application and opening your document, click the signature icon in the Markup tab in the upper interface.

how to electronically sign a pdf on pc
Step 2Create your signature

After being prompted, you can create up to 3 signatures. You can upload the image of your signature from the local computer or draw one in the application. Use the mouse or trackpad to create one with ease. Then, set the color of your signature, choosing from black, red, blue, and grey. Also, you can set the size of the brush from 1.0 pt to 3.0 pt.

how to electronically sign a pdf on pc
Step 3Add the signature

When you are done, click Done. Then, you can insert the signature wherever in the document. Adjust the size of it if you need.

Note: After creating the signature, these signatures will be permanently saved in PDFelement. Whenever you open the application next time and want to add it, they are available in the Signature section.

Tip: Although it is shown that you can only create 3 signatures, and sometimes you may want to remove some of them, just directly delete them. Then, you can still have three needed signatures saved in PDFelement.

Method 2. Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a desktop application used to sign PDFs on a PC. You can type, draw, or insert a handwritten signature into the PDF. Please see the procedure to find the feature in the app to sign a PDF below.

Step 1: Open your PDF document after launching the Adobe Acrobat Reader application.

Step 2: Click the sign icon in the toolbar. You can also click Tools > Fill & Sign or choose Fill & Sign from the right pane.

how to electronically sign a pdf on pc

Step 3: As the system prompts, click Fill and sign.

Then, you can decide where to sign, what color the signature is, or other detailed settings.

As a professional PDF application, which charges a high price, it focuses on more professional needs with more complicated steps. The next steps to create and add a signature are a bit complicated, and you can check its official website as a reference.

How to Electronically Sign a PDF on Mac with Preview

Mac offers you a simple tool to sign a PDF, no matter whether it is editable. To add a signature, you need to launch the Preview app first. Then, you can follow the steps below.

Step 1: Click the Show markup toolbar icon, then click the sign icon.

Step 2: Click Create Signature. You can capture your signature with your trackpad, the built-in camera on the computer, or an iPhone or iPad.

Step 3: Click the sign icon. You can then add the created signature to the PDF. How to Electronically Sign a PDF on Mobile Phones.

How to Electronically Sign a PDF on Mobile Phones

Method 1. PDFelement

PDFelement for iOS is an expert in processing all needs of PDFs. You can download and install it from the application store for free. It is compatible with both Android and iOS. The intuitive interface, considerate guide, and user-friendly steps will give you a smooth user experience. The followings are details of the steps.

Step 1: Launch the application on the mobile phone, then pick out the document from your files.

Step 2: Tap the signature icon, which is similar to a pen, at the top menu bar.

Step 3: Draw your signature in the Create Signature window. Customize the size or the color of it if you want.

sign pdf form

Step 4: Save the signature if you finish it, and place it where you need it. Click Save to conclude the adjustments.

As shown above, the straightforward PDFelement allows you to sign a document only in 3 steps. It is easy to use, flexible to modify the signature, and quick to save the changes. After signing, you can edit the PDF with whatever tool you want. As an installed application, it runs fast offline. There is no need for a connection to the internet to launch the app.

Method 2. Adobe Fill & Sign

Adobe Fill and Sign is an application developed for mobile phones. It's a part of Adobe's signing ecosystem. It concentrates on corporate users, offering a free and simple signing feature. It allows you to use your finger to sign a document without downloading any third-party hardware or accessory.

how to electronically sign a pdf on mobile

It enables you to sign, send, track, and manage the signature workflow. However, it does not support the display of a signature list or signing on a password-protected PDF.

How to Electronically Sign a PDF Online with Document Cloud

Document Cloud is designed for adding high-quality electronic signatures. The tool is based on a browser and can be accessed under any conditions. With up to premium 100GB of cloud storage and promised privacy, you can freely create a signature file and send it to others to collect their signatures. Follow the guide provided to sign a PDF document.

Step 1: Launch the website and log in. Then, click ACCESS CLOUD.

Step 2: Click Initiate and upload documents from your computer or Document Cloud.

Step 3: Enter the email address if other people need to sign the PDF. Then, select one or two boxes on the right side of the interface to start. You can choose Set signing order, or I need to sign the document.

how to electronically sign a pdf online

Step 4: Add the required fields to the file by dragging and dropping. Click Send for Signatures to send the document to recipients.

Step 5: Recipients will be redirected to the document by clicking the received document link. Then, they can add their signatures in the fields.

How to Electronically Sign a PDF online with DocuSign

There are many other online signer tools in the market that let you send, receive, and manage electronic signatures. Some widely used applications include DocuSign, Document Cloud, iLovePDF, and Smartpdf.

DocuSign is an online tool available to sign files. If you are using this tool for the first time, you must create an account first. Here are simple steps for you to follow:

  • You can click Start Now to process a new task.
  • Upload the PDF document and check the I'm the only signer box.
  • Click Sign. Then, you can sign and adjust the signature.
  • Click Finish when you are done.

Cons: The time limit of a free trial is only 30 days. After one month, you are required to pay for this tool if you still want to use it.

how to electronically sign a pdf online

Differences between Adobe Sign and DocuSign

Both Adobe Sign and DocuSign are popular choices for electronic signatures, but they have slight differences. Some users reflect that they prefer DocuSign to Adobe Sign since the former is better when accessing data. Also, DocuSign provides you with advanced analysis based on the signature.

However, such two tools only focus on signing PDFs. If you demand more modifications than signing agreements, you might need to repeatedly jump between different applications, which may lead to inconvenience.

Other recommended online tools to sign a PDF


ilovePDF provides multiple methods to sign a PDF, such as typing, drawing, or uploading. After selecting a PDF file from the computer, you can also choose the feature to ask someone to sign a PDF via ilovePDF.

how to electronically sign a pdf online

Limitations: iLovePDF doesn't offer an account creation feature. As a result, you can't save or keep track of your documents. Besides that, iLovePDF offers a privacy guarantee at a lower level. Your info may be under threat in such an unsafe and insecure environment.


Similar to ilovePDF, Smallpdf provides you with basic functions for signing documents. The difference is that it asks you to create an account. The account allows you to keep track of your documents.

However, you can only sign one PDF for free if you don't log in. Plus, the tool only offers a 7-day free trial with limited features.

how to electronically sign a pdf online

Differences Between Digital Signature and Electronic Signature

It might be easy to confuse these two terms, but they are not the same thing. The misunderstanding may cause using the wrong tool to sign documents in legal or business scenarios.

Digital signature

  • Referred to as "sealing a document".
  • A way to provide evidence of a document's integrity and authenticity.
  • Functions as a fingerprint that is unique to the document.
  • Created by software
Digital Signature and Electronic Signature

Electronic signature

  • Signing an electronic document by drawing the signature with a mouse, touchpad, or another input device.
  • Functions as evidence of the document signatory's agreement.
  • Similar to signing the name on a paper.


PDFelement offers both Digital Signature and Electronic Signature features, which meet all your needs when signing documents. The easy procedure will save you valuable time and enhance your efficiency. Also, the PDFelement security system performs well in protecting sensitive data, with no need to worry about hackers. More than that, the application is a one-stop PDF editing software with various tools available.

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