How to sign using a certificate in Acrobat XI and Reader

Learn how to e-sign PDF using a certificate.

By February 21, 2014


In this infographic, learn how to e-sign PDF using a certificate-based digital ID. To allow others to sign using a certificate in Reader 11.0.6 or earlier, the PDF needs to be reader-enabled first in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

How to sign using a certificate in Acrobat XI and Reader
View transcript

How to sign using a certificate in Acrobat XI and Reader

Donna BakerFebruary 21, 2014

  1. Under the Sign pane, open the Work with Certificates panel, and click Sign with Certificate.*
  2. When the Info dialog opens, click Drag New Signature Rectangle.
  3. Drag an area on the page to place the new signature field.
  4. In the Add Digital ID dialog, choose A new digital ID I want to create now, and click Next at the bottom.
  5. Leave the New PKCS#12 digital ID file option selected, and click Next at the bottom.
  6. Type identity information to use with the digital ID, such as your name and email address. Click Next at the bottom.
  7. Choose a location to store the digital ID, and create a password. Click Finish at the bottom.
  8. In the Sign Document dialog, click the Appearance drop-down and choose Create New Appearance.
  9. Name the signature appearance. Configure the contents of the new signature, such as a graphic and what text items to show.
  10. Click OK to return to the Sign Document dialog, showing the new appearance automatically. Type in your password and click Sign at the bottom.
  11. Choose name and storage settings and click Save.
  12. The new signature and appearance displays on the page.

*To allow others to sign using a certificate in Adobe Reader 11.0.06 or earlier, the PDF needs to be reader-enabled first in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Did you know?

  • You can ask a question and get an answer from one of our experts.
  • You can search our database of over 800 tutorials by product and/or topic.
  • You can leave a comment below for the author of this tutorial.

Products covered:

Acrobat XIAcrobat Reader

Related topics:

Sign and Send PDFs

Top Searches:

Sign and send documents, get electronic signatures from others, fill and sign any form


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

8, 2015-11-04 04, 2015

Hi Ricardo,

Unfortunately this is not possible using certificates; however, by their very nature certificates secure/validate the entire PDF.



3, 2015-10-29 29, 2015

I need sign multiple pages in a file (the sign has to be show in every page). Is possible sign every page without password in each one?

Lori Kassuba

4, 2015-09-29 29, 2015

Hi manish Khandelwal,

If you’re using Adobe Reader 11.0.06 or earlier to sign using a certificate then whomever sent you the file to sign will need to Reader-enable it first. If this is not possible try upgrading to a later version of Reader.


manish Khandelwal

11, 2015-09-26 26, 2015

work with certificate option is disable in acrobat what is the setting to enable this .
and a device connected to PC option is not working properly ‘
provide me guidence

Lori Kassuba

2, 2014-11-20 20, 2014

Hi Richard,

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way around this. The document needs to be locked in the exact state when you sign, which is why you get the save prompt.



5, 2014-11-17 17, 2014

Using Adobe Acrobat Pro XI. I use the sign tab to sign with certificate.  This instructs me to drag new signature rectangle which I do and successfully eletronically sign.  The issue I have is that the program requires me to save the document after each and every initial and or signature which is very time consuming for multiple initial and signature documents such as real estate contracts.  Is there a way around having to do it this way?

Lori Kassuba

5, 2014-09-29 29, 2014

Hi Dragan Obrenovic,

It’s not possible to certify a document in Adobe Reader only Acrobat. This looks like a issue that may have been introduced in the latest point update.


Dragan Obrenovic

11, 2014-09-26 26, 2014

Dear Lori,

My certificate on smart card is actually issued by a reputable certification authority, recognized by Microsoft Windows and I can certify document using Adobe Acrobat without any problem.

However, I am not able to do it using Adobe Reader 11.0.09 as both “Certify” options are greyed (disabled).

Can you please post a link to a sample certified document that was certified using Adobe Reader XI, so I can see how its certificate chain looks?

Thanks a lot,

Lori Kassuba

3, 2014-09-25 25, 2014

Hi Dragan Obrenovic,

You need to have a certificate from a certificate authority to sign using this technique. Here is an article with additional information:


Dragan Obrenovic

11, 2014-09-22 22, 2014

I am using Adobe Reader version 11.0.09 and signing PDF documents using certificate-based digital ID on smart card works perfectly fine.

However, I am unable to certify document, as both “Certify (Visible)” and “Certify (Not Visible”) options are disabled (greyed). Please see the screenshot here:


What am I doing wrong?


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.