Fill Out and Sign PDF Forms in OS X


pdfpen.gifHow often do you get a PDF form that you have to fill out, sign and return by e-fax? Why print it out on paper if you can just type your responses directly in the file, including signature? What happens when you have a 50 page PDF but you only need 3 pages of it? Or you have multiple PDF files that you’d like to merge into one? PDFpen is an OS X application from Smile On My Mac that is worth every penny of its $50 license if you have to edit these PDF files on a regular basis. The company recently announced Version 3 in both regular and Pro licenses.

There are a lot of options for PDF editing in Windows, but until now Mac users didn’t have much of a choice beyond the very expensive full version of Adobe Acrobat. PDFpen has features that are unmatched by similar Windows applications like FoxIt or PDFill.

PDFpen is very “Mac like” and feels a lot like Apple’s Preview. It can more than suffice as a complete replacement for Preview or Acrobat Reader.


The true power comes when need to fill out a form. Point, click and type. Choose fonts, highlight colors or whatever you need to fill out and save your form without sacrificing a single piece of paper.

By far, the most useful features of PDFpen come into play when you want to sign the document. Inexpensive Windows PDF editors let you take an image file of a signature and add it to a form. No problem. PDFpen lets you sign the document right on the form, using familiar pen tools (best if you have a Wacom tablet).


Notice in the above image how the ink of the signature goes over the lines of the form. That’s what happens naturally when someone signs a piece of paper. Never sits right within the box. What happens when you have the signature in a file? You can drop an image in a PDF using other applications, but the white background of the signature files sits on top of the form and screams, “I didn’t really sign this!” PDFpen allows you to save your signature image to a library, drag and drop it into the file, and here’s the best part…set transparency on the background of the image so it lies naturally over the line like a real ink signature! I can’t count how many times I’ve “filled out” a PDF form in Adobe InDesign simply so I could add transparency to the signature file. While Acrobat has powerful features for digital signature validation and encryption, sometimes you just need a signature to look good as if it were signed with a pen so you can fax it electronically, and not much more.

The Pro version adds the ability to create editable PDF forms for others to fill out, and costs $50 more.



yes, there are a lot of tools out there, I worked on several of them.

But the real question is, WHY NOT TO MAKE IT STANDART? adobe’s guys could just do it that and everyone will use it.

Mark, Developer
Fill Any PDF (

Groonge R.

FormulatePro is the latest version of Formulate. Free, and easy to use for filling in PDF’s.

Why don’t people just make their PDF’s fillable!? I mean, is this 2008 or what!?


I never heard about this one. Why don`t you try I think it is the most convenient tool.


Interesting technology tidbits, but for documents that require a signature by law, it is unlikely most of the solutions above will suffice. According to ESIGN, UETA, and other laws, a valid electronic signature must have much more than just a bunch of bits on a page. It is not to say that putting bits on a page does not make a ‘signature’ it is just that the signature may not be enforceable.

Should enforcing a contract be important, adherence to ESIGN/UETA is important. This means the signature must be a unique mark that is attached to or logically associated with the record in a manner that would indicate tampering if the signature or document were modified later. It also means the signing process must link a specific person to the transaction (usually through some sort of authentication), and there are a few other requirements about consumer disclosure and record retention that are required as well.

If you do not need a legally enforceable contract, or are just dealing with internal approvals, pasting images into documents and not dealing with authentication or contract integrity is fine.

All of this does not have to be complicated if you use a system like DocuSign, which provides a fully legal process, manages the flow of the transaction, and can be used with any document that can be printed, and is actually much EASIER than trying to copy and paste signatures an initials into your documents manually.

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