How to sign PDF files electronically

Learn how to sign PDF files or use digital signatures whether signing a PDF yourself or getting a file e-signed by others.

By September 7, 2012

 



In this tutorial, learn how to sign PDF files or use digital signatures whether signing a PDF yourself or getting a file e-signed by others.

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How to sign PDF files electronically

Patti SokolSeptember 7, 2012

When you need an approval signature, paper documents can take too long. Acrobat XI and Adobe EchoSign let you approve PDF documents in seconds by signing electronically. I have everything I need in my sign panel. I can add my name to the signature box. And I can click to place my signature. I can type my signature. I can draw it on a touchpad. I can use an existing image or a digital certificate. I will go ahead and type it today. I can even change my signature style. I will click to stamp the signature on the page and I can easily re-size and position it. When I click send signed document, Acrobat uploads the document to EchoSign. The EchoSign subscription service is the easiest way to get your document signed, tracked and filed. It's as easy as filling out an email. After everybody signs the document, EchoSign emails a PDF copy to each party, and stores a backup copy in your EchoSign account. With Acrobat XI and Adobe EchoSign, approving documents is quick and easy.


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Products covered:

Acrobat XI ProEchoSign

Related topics:

Sign documents electronically

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48 comments

Lori Kassuba

11, 2014-07-09 09, 2014

Hi Yao,

Sorry to hear you’re having problems. Could you post your question here and select the Sign documents electronically category?
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/AskQuestion.aspx
This way we can help you more interactively. Also, please include information on what version of Acrobat and/or Reader you’re using.

Thanks,
Lori

Yao

12, 2014-07-07 07, 2014

I used to be able to sign my pdf docs with ease.  In the last few days I have not been able to do so.  The “sign” option doesn’t even exist on my screen anymore.  I have created a Adobe ID and been verified.  But when I enter that information when requested it doesn’t work.  Please confer

Patty Friesen

9, 2014-06-26 26, 2014

Hi Subin,

Please visit our Acrobat Certified Expert page <http://acrobatusers.com/ace-experts>. Most of these experts have experience with forms. Also, if you visit this page, you’ll see a list of experts experienced with forms: http://answers.acrobatusers.com/Create-and-analyze-forms-e428.aspx

Hope this helps.

Patty

Subin

8, 2014-06-25 25, 2014

Looking for someone with extensive knowledge in Acrobat.. Need help on some forms on how the information is distributed.

Lori Kassuba

1, 2014-04-25 25, 2014

Hi Rebecca Davies,

Thanks for the kind words!

Lori

Rebecca Davies

12, 2014-04-22 22, 2014

I have just joined and I congratulate you and your team for having not only a wonderful descriptive video but the foresight to also have your comments in print as well.  Thank you for a job well done!!

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-04-11 11, 2014

Hi Teresa Graeff,

Could this panel have been removed by your IT department or is this just a regular product install? Have you tried running the Repair command from under the Help menu?

Thanks,
Lori

Teresa Graeff

2, 2014-04-09 09, 2014

I don’t see the “I need to sign” panel at all.  It is not grayed out, it is just not there.  The only panel I can see is the “work with certificates” panel.  I don’t want to use Echosign.  I just want the “I need to sign” panel to show up. I can see it on the Adobe Reader XI that I have, but it seems as if I should be able to sign in Acrobat Pro XI.  I don’t want to switch from one program to the other just to do an “ink signature”.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-04-09 09, 2014

Hi Teresa Graeff,

If the I need to Sign panel is grayed out, it probably means there is an existing certificate signature field on the document (so you can’t sign with EchoSign) or it has been secured so to disallow any changes.

Thanks,
Lori

Teresa Graeff

1, 2014-04-08 08, 2014

How do I get the “I need to sign” panel to come up?  I only get the “work with certificates” panel.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-03-18 18, 2014

Hi Bea,

I’m assuming that you converted the Acrobat form to an EchoSign form and then added the signature block. Did you also make sure that you selected Signer in the EchoSign Role dropdown in the form field properties dialog? Then, when you send the form to the EchoSign service, it automatically adds the email address of the signer to that specific form field so it’s clickable for them.

Thanks,
Lori

Bea

2, 2014-03-13 13, 2014

I create a signature block and it is clickable when I send it for signature but when the recipient recives it they cannot click and sign.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-02-12 12, 2014

Hi Noah,

Sounds like there is something associated with the letter page that is corrupt. Are you able to make changes to the document? If so, you might try extracting that particular page and then recombining it.

Lori

Noah

4, 2014-02-11 11, 2014

The error reads “An error exists on this page Acrobat may not display the page correctly. Please contact the person who created the PDF document to correct the problem.” This only occurs on the letter page of the documents I am trying to sign. There are other forms that Adobe allows me to sign with no problems.

Noah

4, 2014-02-11 11, 2014

Lori,

After I sign the document and save it the enter page goes blank except my signature. Then when I open it again it says “An error exists on this page. Acrobat may not display the page correctly, please contact the person who created the pdf document to correct the problem.” What I am trying to sign is the letter page of the documents Im sending. The remaining pages are will allow me to sign and save no problem. Any ideas?

Lori Kassuba

11, 2014-02-11 11, 2014

Hi Noah,

What type of error message you receiving? Also, make sure you’re not viewing the PDF in Preview if you’re on a Mac.

Thanks,
Lori

Noah

9, 2014-02-07 07, 2014

I am trying to sign a pdf document that I saved from other software, but after I sign the document and save it the next time I open it up the page I signed is blank and an eror message pops up? Any Ideas? Anyone?

ballisticknifeforsale.net

9, 2014-02-06 06, 2014

Excellent Post. Really usefull for me . Thanks

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-01-28 28, 2014

Hi Taylor,

Do you have all the latest point updates for Acrobat/Reader installed? Try seeing if you can do a Save As instead or save to a different location. If this doesn’t work, I recommend doing a Repair of your installation from under the Help menu.

Thanks,
Lori

Taylor

8, 2014-01-26 26, 2014

I have been trying to sign this and figure it out for an hour now. Everytime i go to sign, it says i need a saved copy on my desktop. I have saved this document at least eight times on my desktop and it still gives me the message. I can do it on a separate document, but then i cannot send it to the site directly.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-01-17 17, 2014

Hi haider,

Check out this discussion for further details but be aware that the ADBC suggestion was removed in Acrobat X:
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/Write-PDF-fields-database-q2300.aspx

Thanks,
Lori

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-01-17 17, 2014

Hi Sintyadi Thong,

Good question. Check out this tutorial because it explores the various things to consider when using different signing techniques in Acrobat XI or Adobe Reader XI:
http://acrobatusers.com/tutorials/how-to-sign-pdf-files

Lori

Sintyadi Thong

12, 2014-01-16 16, 2014

Hi, I kinda want to know how safe is a digital signature?

Let’s say I have a digitally signed PDF form.
Can people edit, delete or extract it?

Thanks

haider

10, 2014-01-13 13, 2014

how can i submit data from adobe acrobat from or live cyle from to MYSQl data base? any body pls describe it.

Lori Kassuba

9, 2014-01-13 13, 2014

Hi haider,

Please see this discussion for more information on connecting to a database:
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/can-adobe-acrobat-pro-connect-sql-database-q16262.aspx

Thanks,
Lori

haider

12, 2014-01-06 06, 2014

how can I export data form pdf form to Mysql data base? is it possible?

Lori Kassuba

12, 2014-01-06 06, 2014

Hi haider,

If your computer has a touchpad then you can do this. Select the Place Signature command and choose “Draw my signature”. Next click the touchpad select key (for me this was either of the buttons below the touchpad)then use your finger to sign on the touchpad.

Thanks,
Lori

haider

6, 2014-01-04 04, 2014

Is it possible tob sign in digital signature field by using finger like pen?

Bill Lane

12, 2013-10-21 21, 2013

Thanks Lori.  I have submitted this as a bug, since trying to do a “Save As” after editing a file, does the same thing.  I can see the path, but it is more work and makes no sense whatsoever to save a file that you are editing in a different directory from the original file.  Adobe X Pro did not do this nor does any other software program that I use.

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-10-21 21, 2013

Hi Bill Lane,

You should still be seeing a Save As dialog in Acrobat XI when signing using a certificate. On the other hand, you might not see the prompt immediately if you use a different signature type like when you type, draw, or use an image for your signature.

As mentioned by someone else, you can’t change the default path for the Save dialog but on Windows you can create a new “Favorite” location and access that with one click in the Windows dialog.

Thanks,
Lori

Lori Kassuba

11, 2013-10-21 21, 2013

Hi Gregory,

The certificate is stored on the secure device for access when you sign a PDF. Here is a high level overview of the process:
http://learn.adobe.com/wiki/download/attachments/52658564/acrobat_signature_creation_cheatsheet9.1.pdf?version=1

Thanks,
Lori

Gregory

8, 2013-10-18 18, 2013

how i can sign a document with secure electronic signature-creation devices?

Bill Lane

2, 2013-10-18 18, 2013

I digitally sign forms in Adobe Acrobat. With version X, I would open the file, sign it, and save it, and it would overwrite the file that I opened. Now, with version XI, I don’t know where the files are being saved and have lost some. (Of course, now that I know, I can manually change the folder path, but that is additional work.) How can I change the default to be the current folder that I have open?

I posted this on the question board and received one answer that it can’t be done.  Why would this feature be removed from one version to another?

Thanks,

Bill

Lori Kassuba

12, 2013-09-17 17, 2013

Hi Rebecca,

Can you post your issue at this location so we can help you interactively?
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/AskQuestion.aspx
Be sure to select the Sign Document Electronically category when posting the question.

Thanks,
Lori

Rebecca

7, 2013-09-10 10, 2013

Lori,
I used the Digital ID set up in Adobe to create my signature.  Is this the information requested?  I cannot locate any signature properties through the route you had posted.
Regards,
Rebecca

Lori Kassuba

3, 2013-09-06 06, 2013

Hi Rebecca,

How did you setup the signature field? In the Digital Signature Form Field Properties there is a “Signed” tab that should tell you.

Thanks,
Lori

Rebecca

12, 2013-09-05 05, 2013

Hi Lori,

The exact wording in the dialog box is: “This document has been signed and cannot be edited”

I suspect the user is trying to add text onto the page and this is when the box appears.  Even though it claims that the document (a form) cannot be edited, there are sections of the form that allow text to be entered.

Can this lock be a result of the way I have created/set-up my signature in Acrobat?

Thanks,
Rebecca

Lori Kassuba

1, 2013-08-28 28, 2013

Hi Rebecca,
I don’t believe that this is related to the user’s version of Acrobat or Reader. X and XI should behave similarly.

Does the issue occur when users download the file to a local location and attempt to sign?
Would you please provide the exact wording of the “locked” dialog box.

Thanks,
Lori

Rebecca

8, 2013-08-21 21, 2013

Hi David,

I am seeing this behavious in more than one documents?  However, the documents in question all are similar in layout. The first page is always the same style “signing” page with multiple signature fields.

The problem is intermittent and doesn’t always occur. Could it relate to the end user’s version?

My version of Acrobat is 11.0.3

Thanks.

Rebecca

7, 2013-08-21 21, 2013

Hi David,

The behaviour is across multiple files.  The first page of the PDF always has multiple digital signature fields to fill. This same document always worked with Acrobat Pro X.
The Acrobat version is 11.0.3

Thanks

David Kastendick

1, 2013-08-16 16, 2013

Hi Rebecca,

Sorry to hear you’re having trouble. A few questions:
* Are you only seeing this behavior on one particular document or across multiple documents? 
* Did this same document work properly with Acrobat X? 
* Does this document contain multiple digital signature fields? 
* Have you updated Acrobat to 11.0.3?

Thanks,
David

Rebecca

8, 2013-08-14 14, 2013

Hi there,

I’ve just upgraded from X Pro to XI. Previously was able to sign document and then subsequent users were able to open PDF from network location and sign after me.  In XI I create PDF, sign it then it appears to display a “locked” dialog box for subsequent users. They cannot sign once I have initially signed.

When I sign I do not tick the “Lock Document After Signing” box.  So I don’t understand why it is locked.  Am I omitting an important step or must I use EchoSign for multiple signatures?

Thanks.

Joshroy

2, 2013-06-13 13, 2013

Hi Ay,

I had the same issue where I couldn’t sign of pdf. Adobe support helped me out and pointed me to https://www.echosign.adobe.com/en/home.html.
There I just opened a free account, uploaded my pdf, and added my signature. Then they emailed it back to me.

I think they do 5 free signatures month.

Good luck Ay.

Lori Kassuba

2, 2013-06-10 10, 2013

Hi ay,

Try updating to the most recent point update of Adobe Reader (10.1.7) at this point.

Thanks,
Lori

ay

6, 2013-06-05 05, 2013

I need to sign a document but i cant click the sign docs on the adobe reader x (10.0.1). How do i go about this. Its not even highlighted.

Lori Kassuba

11, 2013-05-31 31, 2013

Hi nilesh kucheriya,

Unfortunately there is not an automated way to do this in Acrobat. The interface is designed so you acknowledge each signature.

Thanks,
Lori

nilesh kucheriya

5, 2013-05-30 30, 2013

Is there any automated process/utility to digitally sign more than one pages of a pdf in one go. ?

Sir i have a PDF of 2400 page.
It consist of set of 6 pages each for 400 employees tax data.
on page no. 2, 4, 6, i have to digitally sign.
if i do it manually i have to do it signing 2400 times.
Is there any automated process/utility to digitally sign more than one pages of a pdf in one go. ?

asked question at http://answers.acrobatusers.com/Is-automated-process-utility-digitally-sign-pages-pdf—q92706.aspx

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-04-24 24, 2013

Hi Rohan,

Can you post yoru question here with exact details on the specific product (Acrobat or Reader) and version you’re using?
http://answers.acrobatusers.com/AskQuestion.aspx

Thanks,
Lori

Rohan

4, 2013-04-16 16, 2013

Hi Lori,

When I click the view button, there is no option to select the sign menu.
I do however see a “signatures” button.. upon clicking this, it does not guide me or tell me any information on how to create a signature.. it shows me that this document can be electronically signed, and I am aware of this already.

Please Advise

Lori Kassuba

2, 2013-04-16 16, 2013

Hi Rohan,

Have you tried opening the Sign pane using the View > Sign menu command?

Lori

Rohan

5, 2013-04-15 15, 2013

HI,

I am unable to locate the “sign” button on adobe 11
the only tabs I can see are “Tools” “Comment” or “Extended”

please help!

Lori Kassuba

9, 2013-04-15 15, 2013

Hi Len,

You can resize a digital signature windows when you draw out a signature field using the Sign Document command. However, it sounds as though you’re referring to an existing signature field. You can’t change it after you sign (this would be altering your file) but you can use the Select Object tool to resize before you sign unless of course security has been set on the file to disallow this.

Thanks,
Lori

Len Richter

11, 2013-04-03 03, 2013

In the new version of Acrobat 11 Pro, are you now able to resize a digital signature box before & after it is signed using a windows digital certificate?
If not, this is 1 feature I really need & would upgrade for.

Lori Kassuba

4, 2013-03-18 18, 2013

Hi Jose,

Can you specify where you’re being prompted for a password? On the EchoSign site? If so, you can use your Adobe ID or create a new account registration.

Lori

Jose Restrepo

3, 2013-03-17 17, 2013

it’s asking me for a password??? for my digital files ??? no clue.

Lori Kassuba

11, 2013-03-13 13, 2013

Hi Peter,

You’ll need version XI of either Acrobat or Reader to do this? What version are you using?

Lori

Peter

4, 2013-03-10 10, 2013

I only have a “tools” and “documents” pane, but no “sign” pane- and I can’t figure out how to display the “sign” pane in the upper right toolbar.

Truluy

7, 2013-02-13 13, 2013

To sign in Adobe Acrobat seems easy.  I even used version earlier than XI.  In my older Acrobat under tools I select pen to edit doc, and then use mouse pointer or finer tablet’s pen to sign my name on tax forms, then save, then email it with signature intact.  If in doubt whehter signature permanent, I open in Adobe Reader, click on signature and if it has a box around it that cannot drag, then sig permanent.

PJ

2, 2013-02-04 04, 2013

I’m on Nat’s side. This stuff doesn’t work. I have filled all sorts of forms and still can’t get my document signed. I must say I am disappointed.

PJ,

What version of Reader or Acrobat are you using? You’ll need to use version XI.

Thanks,
Lori

nat

4, 2013-01-07 07, 2013

This does not work for me. 100 TIMES I fill it out, click “done signing” and save, and nothing gets saved. I click “send signed document” and it sends me the empty document. No error message, nothing. The document never gets saved on my file system. Using windows 7 64 bit and Adobe Reader 10.1.4.

Hi Nat,

This tutorial is specifically for the EchoSign and Acrobat/Reader version XI not X. Can you upgrade Reader and then try again?

Thanks,
Lori

James McKay

11, 2012-12-12 12, 2012

Do the signatures still work without EchoSign? Surely signing with a digital signature will allow the signature to be valid without using EchoSign.

Hi James,

EchoSign is another alternative you have when working with signatures. You still have all the certificate-based options in Acrobat XI.

Thanks,
Lori

Lori Kassuba

4, 2012-11-27 27, 2012

Hi Michelle,

The recipient of your PDF documents doesn’t need to have an account with EchoSign in order to sign your documents just the creator or distributor.

Thanks,
Lori

Michelle Martin

3, 2012-11-27 27, 2012

Does each signer have to have an EchoSign account, or just the creator/distributor of the document?

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