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Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is your best free bet

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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic closed most offices, more and more official papers were being turned into PDF documents. (PDF stands for Portable Document Format; it is a standard created by Adobe in the early 1990s that allows paper documents to be turned into exact digital copies.) These days, hard copy paperwork is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule. However, even digital documents have to be signed. You can do it the long way — print those documents out, sign them, and then scan them back into your computer — or you can create a digital signature and place it directly on the PDF.

Unfortunately, while Windows doesn’t offer a built-in PDF signing feature the way a Mac does, there are third-party apps you can download that will give you the same ability. In this case, I’m using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, which is Adobe’s free PDF reader. Here’s how to set it up and use it to sign your PDF documents.

And you’re done! Now, if you want to add your signature to a PDF, just open your document using Adobe Acrobat Reader and click on the “Sign” icon. You can then select your saved signature and place it where you need it on your PDF document.

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is, of course, not the only app that you can use to read and / or edit a PDF document. There are a variety of other apps out there with free versions that will let you do basic PDF work, such as HelloSign, Smallpdf, and Docsketch. However, most of those free versions come with limitations — for example, both HelloSign and Docsketch let you sign up to three documents a month, while Smallpdf lets you process up to two documents per day. Adobe Reader doesn’t have any limitations on your ability to sign documents, but if you want to create a PDF, or export it to another format, you’ll have to get the Pro version.

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