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The Graduate School - Electronic Documents Apple Computers

By default Macs will open up PDFs in the application “Preview” rather than Adobe Acrobat or Reader. However, Preview cannot see or create electronic signatures, regardless of which Mac or operating system one uses. To see electronic signatures, users will need to:

  1. Download the free Adobe Reader at the following address if it is not already installed: http://get.adobe.com/reader/.
  2. Install the reader by double-clicking the download and following directions. If asked, make the Adobe Reader your default application for viewing PDF files.
  3. If a digitally signed PDF file was sent to you via email, select the PDF file from your email program's attachment area, then click Save, and save the PDF to your Desktop.  Do NOT double-click and open the file in Preview and save a copy from Preview — it will not have the electronic signature.
  4. Open Adobe Reader and use File / Open to open the PDF you saved to your Desktop.  You will now see the signature.

Alternatively, users can make Acrobat or Reader their default program to always open PDFs by:

  1. Download and install Reader by following the directions above.
  2. Single click a PDF file you wish to open or any PDF file in general while holding the control key. Then select 'Get Info' from the menu you've opened.
  3. Under the heading 'Open with,' the current default application for opening PDF's is listed. If there is no application listed you may need to click the triangle to the left of 'Open with' so that it points downward to reveal the current setting.
  4. Click on the application listed to open a menu displaying additional applications. In this menu locate the most recent version of Adobe Reader. If Reader is not listed or an old version of the software is listed select 'Other' from the bottom of the menu. If it is not shown, after clicking “Other,” navigate through your Applications folder to locate the icon for the Adobe Reader application and click to highlight it. Click the Add button to select Reader.
  5. Back in the information window click the 'Change All' button so that all subsequent PDF files will be opened by the Adobe Acrobat reader.
  6. Click the Continue button to confirm that you'd like to change your settings. Now all PDF files will be opened by the Adobe Acrobat Reader.


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 1/30/18