How to sign documents with just your phone

Have you ever had to add your signature to a document and send it over email? No, you don’t need a printer or a scanner. Did you know that you can do this for free with just your iPhone? Read on to learn how.

The health crisis created by the coronavirus COVID-19 is forcing people around the world to stay home and practice physical distancing; stores and businesses are closing to prevent expanding the virus. This also means less access to places where you can print documents, and many of us don’t have a printer or scanner at home. What can we do when we need to sign a document and send it over email? This guide should help anyone with an iOS device scan and sign their documents and forms.

Step 1. Take a picture of your document

If your document is already in PDF format, you can skip this and jump directly to step 3.

The first step is to get your document in a digital format. You can do it for free from any phone or tablet. You can make this easy by downloading a free app; there are tens of free apps to choose from. For example, if you don’t mind seeing ads, you can use the Scanner App on iOS. All these apps work in a similar way: you take a picture of the document with your device, then the app automatically detects the borders of the physical document and creates a PDF file out of it.

If you don’t trust any of the available free apps, you can still do this with iOS itself. Start by taking a picture of the document with the Camera app:

Open the Photos app and enter ‘Edit’ mode on the picture. Trim the borders to remove anything that is not the document:

Once the picture only contains your centered document, you are ready to “print” it.

Step 2. Convert or “print” your picture to a PDF document

From the Photos app, tap on the ‘Share’ button. Scroll down until you see the ‘Print’ option. These instructions will help you create a PDF version of anything you see on screen.

On the ‘Print’ dialog, do the pinch gesture on what you want to print, as if you wanted to zoom into the document (this will show you a full screen view of the document):

At this point, what you see in the full screen view is already a PDF document. Now you just have to save it. The upper right corner will display a new ‘Share’ button. Tap it and select where you would like to store the PDF file. I’ll use the Files app:

You just saved the PDF version of your document! This trick works any time you see the ‘Print’ option, which is available always from the ‘Share’ menu. For example, you can create a PDF version of a website from Safari, or a PDF version of a .doc file from the Word app.

Step 3. Add digital text and sign your PDF document

There are paid apps on Apple’s App Store that allow you to modify PDF files, but of course, you can also do some basic edits to the PDF for free, using iOS itself.

For example, from the Files app, open your PDF file and enter the ‘Markup’ mode:

Then simply zoom in and draw your signature with your finger where needed:

You can also add digital text if you prefer:

Step 4. Send your signed document

When you are done editing your document, you can tap ‘Done’. You are now ready to share your signed PDF by email with whoever requested your signature.

Sorry printers, you may be losing your job soon.


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