Tips & Tricks

3 Free Solutions for Electronic Signatures

We just can’t get away from paper.

These days we have technology like robot vacuum cleaners and wifi lightbulbs.
Peter even has a remote control skateboard.

Peter on a skateboard

Yet we still can’t seem to get away from the need to print out and sign documents. Right?


Electronic Signatures are here to stay and are just as legally binding as pen-and-paper signatures. They have been since 1999 when the Electronic Transactions Act was passed. Adobe has even written up a summary of what Electronic Signatures mean today, in plain English. Plus, Electronic Signatures save the trees.


This is why the team at SquareNode use Electronic Signatures for everything. That and because it saves us having to get up and walk to the printer and then scan it back in after signing. But mostly the tree thing (keep in mind Peter has an electric skateboard).

We’ve done some research into the most cost effective Electronic Signature solutions and found that some don’t even cost a thing at all. You should only be paying for it if you want it to link with your existing document management system.

Solution 1: Adobe Acrobat Reader DC

“Isn’t Adobe Acrobat the thing that costs an arm and a leg?” Nope, that’s Acrobat Pro you’re thinking of. Acrobat Reader is free!

All you need to do is open the PDF, go to the “tools” tab at the top, then click “fill and sign”. You will now see a range of tools along the top of the screen that gives you the ability to add text, crosses, ticks, circles, lines, circles, or a signature. Clicking the signature button lets you add a signature or initials. What’s even better is that you can add your signature by typing, drawing, or adding an image from your computer. Simple!

Adding Reader Signature

You can even use the “Adobe Sign” app on iOS and Android devices to sign documents on the go. It’s free if you don’t want to store documents online or track responses. No more excuses!

Solution 2: SignRequest

There are a lot of online Electronic Signature solutions out there. However, not many offer free plans that you can comfortably use for a long period of time. SignRequest stands out from the competition by offering a free plan that will suit most small businesses. If you don’t need the ability to customise the site’s branding, use templates, or store signed documents online then this is a suitable solution for you. Better yet, if you have a G Suite account, it links it perfectly with your Google Drive.

G Suite to SignRequest

Once you upload a document to SignRequest, simply choose who needs to sign it. Then set the fields that need to be filled in. You can set date fields, text fields, checkboxes, and signature fields.

Adding a field in Sign Request

SignRequest will then send an email to your recipients and let you know when they have signed. You can even set what order people need to sign. It works on mobile too!

Solution 3: Use a Mac

I am reluctant to mention this solution because it gives Apple fans more things to gloat about. But yes, it’s possible to mark up PDFs on both Apple desktop and mobile devices out-of-the-box.

The default Mail app on iOS devices has a “markup and reply” button that lets you sign with your finger. All you need to do is click the menu when viewing a PDF, and open it in “Markup”.


Once open, click the “signature” button on the bottom right.



Then write your signature with your finger:


And place it in the document.




Similarly, the default app that opens PDFs on Apple OSX (desktop) devices is called “preview” and has a tool that lets you write a signature using the trackpad. It even allows you to take a photo of your signature on white paper which it then converts to a sharp, reusable image. All you need to do is click the “markup” icon, and then the “signature” icon.

Markups in Preview

Adding Signature in Preview

You impress us yet again, Apple.

Of course, there are much more options if the price is not an issue. The online marketplace is full of applications that can link to your existing document management system, email, or CRM applications. At SquareNode we use Proposify to write our proposals and manage signatures from the one place. Whatever solution you use, you can bet it will be a lot faster, more efficient, and easier to manage than the paper alternative.



What do you use to manage your online signatures? If you are looking for a solution to fit your business’ unique requirements, book a free consultation today!