OS X Mavericks: Add a Signature to PDF with Preview and FaceTime Camera

Way back in prehistoric time, well 2011 as it were, TMO published a Quick Tip on how to use OS X Lion and the Mac's FaceTime camera to photograph a signature and then add it to a PDF document in the Preview app. The procedure has changed ever so slightly, so we thought it time to update the tip.


It was our brilliant Melissa Holt who wrote up the tip for OS X Lion. Now, with Mavericks, the procedure is generally the same but has some minor tweaks. Let's take a look.

1. First, as before, grab a piece of printer paper and write the desired signature in black ink all by itself — being careful to keep it on a straight line without actually using a guide line. Like this.

Next, open the desired PDF document in the OS X app called Preview.

2. Capture the signature by going, in Preview, to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Create Signature from FaceTime HD Camera.

3. A camera window will open. Hold the piece of paper in front of the camera lens until you see it reflected back in the monitor window. Like this:

When it's properly aligned above the blue line, click Accept.

4. Next, under Preview's Edit menu, make sure you have the edit toolbar showing with: Preview > View > Show Edit Toolbar.

5. In the edit toolbar, at the popup next to the "Sig" text, select the signature you created. (Or the desired one if you have several.) The cursor will change to a plus "+" symbol. Click the mouse where you want the signature to be inserted. It may be smaller than expected. (Note: if you haven't created a signature before, the "Sig" popup will prompt you to open the signature capture window as above.)

6. Now you can resize and drag the signature as needed. Here's an example of what it will look like when you're done. That's all there is to it.

If you need to, click at the edge of the signature until you get the resize controls. At that point you can move it, alter the size again or delete it from the page.

Finally, if you want to inspect and manage your saved signatures, go to Preview > Preferences > Signatures. There you can add another, just like Step #3 above, or delete a signature with the standard +/- controls.


John Hancock teaser via Shutterstock.