How to digitally sign a PDF on Mac easily using simple steps

Its easy to sign a PDF on Mac following this guide. In digital world we need to digitally sign a PDF documents frequently. And we find it hard to sign PDF documents. Some time ago we saw how it is not difficult to digitally sign a document in PDF format using the tools that Apple itself gives us on macOS, iOS and iPadOS. But there is a case worth covering: when we need to sign that document using a digital certificate issued by some company or government. Below is the procedure to digitally sign a PDF on Mac with a digital certificate.

In this case, the steps to follow are different, so let’s take a look at them calmly using macOS Big Sur.

How to use a digital certificate to sign a PDF document on your Mac

First of all you need to do two things to digitally sign a PDF on Mac:

Install the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC application for macOS, which you can download for free from its official website. (The Pro version has more options, but it is paid and we do not need it).

Have an official certificate file installed on the macOS keychain. The most usual thing is that you have the certificate file in .p12 format, and that when you double click on it it will be added to the keychain automatically without problems. Remember that exported certificates usually have a password that you should know.

If we comply with these two points, we will already be able to sign a PDF with our certificate. Open any PDF document using Acrobat Reader (it cannot be done with Preview) and click on the ‘Tools’ tab on the top bar of the window:

In the options window that appears, click on ‘Certificates’ :

digitally sign a PDF on Mac with a digital certificate
Adobe Acrobat

You will see your PDF again, but with a new toolbar where you can press the ‘Digitally sign’ button :

digitally sign a PDF on Mac with a digital certificate
Adobe Acrobat

Acrobat Reader will tell you that you must use the cursor to draw a rectangle in which your signature will be inserted, and once you have done so, you will be able to select your digital certificate in a window that will appear automatically:

In these steps, you may have to enter the Mac administrator password one or more times, since Adobe Acrobat will ask you for permission to access the system keychain and read your certificate. If given the opportunity, click on ‘Always allow’ so that you no longer have to retype the password.

At this point, Acrobat Reader will ask you to save a copy of the original PDF with the certificate signature added:

Ready, you already have the PDF signed so you can send it to any institution or company that requires it. Remember that digital certificates usually have an expiration date, and that the signature will not be valid if you use an expired digital certificate.

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