As we have written about in previous articles, Preview is a valuable tool in OS X that does not get a lot of press. In this article, we will review how you can use Preview to capture your signature using the iSight camera on a Mac, then use it in Pages documents, to sign PDF documents, and as an image in your signature in the Mail app.

Open the Preview App and capture your signature If you already have a PDF that you’d like to sign, double-click on it to open it in Preview. Then click on the Pen icon near the top right, select the Sig icon, and choose “Create Signature from Built-in iSight…”.


Alternatively, if you don’t have a document to sign at the moment, you can open the Tools menu in Preview, then choose Annotate > Signature > “Create Signature from Built-in iSight…”.


This will bring up a Signature Capture dialog box. Confirm that “Save this signature for use after Preview quits” is checked. Now, take out a piece of paper, and sign it. I recommend using an index card. Hold the piece of paper up to the iSight Camera, and adjust the position of the paper until the camera recognizes and displays your signature. Click on the Accept button to save the signature.


You can have more than one signature available or capture a better version of your signature by accessing Manage Signatures. To do this, click on the Pen icon near the top right, and then the Sig icon, and choose Manage Signatures. Use the + and – signs at the bottom left to add and remove signatures. Clicking the + sign launches the Signature Capture dialogue box again.

Use your signatures in PDFs To sign a PDF, click on the Pen icon near the top right, and then the Sig icon, and click on the signature you want to use. Then click, hold, and drag across the PDF in the area you want to sign.

If necessary, you can also mark up the PDF with text boxes using the same method by clicking the Aa icon to the left of the Sig icon. Details about how to create text boxes using Preview are included in a previous article.

text boxes

Use your Signature in the Mail app Open a PDF that you have signed. Create a screen shot of your signature using Command & Shift & 4 on the keyboard, and dragging across your signature. The screen shot of your signature will be on the desktop.

Now, open the Mail app and select the “Mail” menu, then choose Preferences. Click on Signatures and create a new signature with the + button. Drag the image you created in the previous step from the desktop into the signature, and add any additional info you want below it.

drag screenshot

To save and use the signature, drag the signature from the center column to the email account listed on the left. Then, choose the default signature for the email account  using the Choose Signature pop-up menu at the bottom.

Now when you compose, forward or reply to an email using the Mail app, your signature will appear automatically.

use email sig 3

Use your signature in Pages The screen shot you captured of your signature in the steps above can be used just about anywhere you would like to place your signature. In Pages, you can use the signature you created by dragging it into the body of your document. After you drag it in, click on the Arrange tab on the top right and choose None from the Text Wrap pop-up menu. Now, you can easily resize and reposition your signature so it appears they way you want.

At this point, you might as well save this as a template, so you have a Pages document with your signature in it saved for future use. From the file menu, choose “Save as Template…”, click the “Add to Template Chooser” button and save it with a name such as Signature.

Having the ability to use your signature in the various apps where it makes sense adds convenience, and stylishly customizes your correspondence.

About the Author