Gadget news
Adobe Fill & Sign (2024) review
8:25 pm | May 9, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: , | Comments: Off

The PDF format is pretty much ubiquitous, and is ideally designed to preserve the layout of a document, which also makes it perfect when requesting someone to interact with it, like say filling in forms or signing contracts. As it’s an open standard, there’s a plethora of apps and services that allow you to do just that. 

But why go hunting for some third party software, when the creators of one of the best PDF editors (and the original, no less) provide an online service for that very purpose. We put Adobe Fill & Sign to the test.  

Adobe Fill & Sign: Pricing & plans

  • A free service, although you won’t be able to access it without logging in or creating a new Adobe account (which is also free to do).

Adobe’s eSignature software service is free, but you can’t get away from creating an account if you don’t already have one. Signing up will give you access to other Adobe services (both paid and free). You just can’t use Fill & Sign without one. You can login with your Apple ID, Facebook or Google accounts, but if you’d rather keep your digital selves separate, an email address will do just fine. Once sorted, all the tools necessary to make Fill & Sign work will become available to you.

The free PDF form-filler is available online by clicking here.  

  • Pricing & plans: 4.5/5

Adobe Fill & Sign: Filling and signing

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Adobe Fill & Sign will automatically detect fields in properly formatted documents, but failing that you can always add your own (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Easy to use tools to fill and sign a PDF, with a few additional options like sharing, commenting and requesting signatures.

Using Fill & Sign, you’ll find yourself in a recognizable interface. To the right of the page are your uploaded documents, a small toolbar to its left, and a sidebar on the left.

Editable fields should be automatically selectable. You can find out if that’s the case by mousing over one of them. If your cursor changes from an arrow to an edit prompt, you’re good to go: simply click on the field and start typing. Thankfully, you’re able to create text fields if the PDF you need to work with lacks the above.

Other available tools include being able to add comments to your document, whether by highlighting a section, or creating a text field for that purpose, highlighting, underlining or striking through existing text, and drawing freehand.

This is above and beyond what you would need to simply fill in a form, but it’s highly useful should amendments need to be made prior to finalizing the deal. You also have the ability to send your document on to others for them to fill in and sign. 

When it comes to actually signing a form, the interface recognises which field needs your signature (or, as before, if it doesn’t, you can add such a field from the toolbar), and overlays the signature tools: by default, you type in your name and Adobe Acrobat will use a cursive font to simulate handwriting.

Alternatively, select ‘Draw’ to use your mouse or trackpad to attempt to sign that way. It’s never the most sensitive of methods, but it does have the virtue of being more unique than a cursive font. Finally, there’s ‘Image’. If you have a signature on file, upload it, and you’re done.

Once you’ve got a signature on the site, you don’t need to create another: just add that one to all the documents you’ll need to sign.

While you’re there, you’ll also find a place to create your initials. The process is exactly the same but will be saved as a separate file, enabling you to sign and initialize any PDF at will.

Adobe Fill & Sign: Additional features

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

AI is everywhere these days, and Adobe’s Fill & Sign service includes a handy version (currently in Beta) (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Aside from the AI assistant (which is currently in beta), everything else is locked behind a paywall. Great if you’re curious, frustrating if you aren’t.

When you click on the Adobe icon, top left of the page, you’ll be taken to your ‘Home’. From there you’ll see all the documents you’ve worked with, along with a series of available tools, most of which we’ve already explored, but there are a few additional ones that are worth mentioning, if only so you know what to expect.

One of these is the AI Assistant (currently in beta, but usable). Like all AI tools, your mileage will vary, but we found it a useful tool to grab a quick summary of a file. Best of all, it doesn’t just work with PDF documents, but can also open and interact with Word, PowerPoint, TXT and RTF formats. Definitely worth having a look, especially since it’s free and as long as you don’t mind AI crawling through your data.

The other features look intriguing, as they allow you to edit and manipulate existing PDFs, but sadly - as you might’ve expected - you’ll need to pay to play with these. Even the tools designed to convert a PDF to other formats, such as those from Microsoft Office, are restricted in that way, although we were able to use it once. Maybe that was the ‘try before you buy’ sample. It did allow us to turn a PDF into a Word document, even giving us access to multiple text editing tools. But if it only works once at that tier level, it’s not really the most useful of services. It’s a shame as even the best free PDF editors we’ve tested often allow you to convert files without charge.  

  • Additional features: 2.5/5

Adobe Fill & Sign: Final verdict

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Aside from filling a document yourself, you can send it to others for them to fill it in too (Image credit: Adobe)
  • A good, simple and efficient service, that doesn’t really need to show you tools that are only available to paying customers.

It’s easy to get lost in the Adobe Acrobat service, and get disillusioned that everything seems to be behind a paywall, but that’s really because the Fill & Sign service has a very narrow focus. Yes, other tools are dangled in front of you and will certainly entice some, but if all you need is an online service to upload your PDFs to, fill them in, sign them, insert comments, share them with others, and maybe even get them to sign them themselves, then this works exactly as you would expect. 

For some power-users, however, Adobe Acrobat Sign or the best Adobe Sign alternatives may suit workflows better. For quick and easy form-filling, it does the job well. Maybe it would be good if Adobe didn’t try and get potential new customers to buy a subscription for more potential goodies, but otherwise, it’s a very simple and efficient tool that works well.

Adobe Fill & Sign: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Fill & Sign PDF form-filler during our review

Visit Adobe’s Fill & Sign service, and upload a document to get started (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need a simple online service to fill in a PDFs, and enjoy a few extra goodies bundled in for free.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t like online services, especially those which only seem to be there to entice you to get a subscription service to access additional tools.

Adobe Acrobat Pro (2024) review
5:48 pm | March 11, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: | Comments: Off

Adobe Acrobat has evolved since its early days as a PDF all-in-one, growing into three separate multi-platform apps: Acrobat Reader, Standard and Pro. 

Each software adds an increasing number of features, so, if you just need to view a PDF document, Acrobat Reader is ideal. Acrobat Standard and Pro are best for PDF creation and editing, electronic signing, and a lot more document management options. In most cases, and in our experience, Acrobat Standard is the best PDF editor for most people, while Acrobat Pro adds a few more tools for the business or professional user. 

We’ve already taken a look at Reader and Standard - you can check out our Adobe Acrobat Reader review and the Adobe Acrobat Standard review for more. It’s time to finish this PDF trilogy by exploring the capabilities of Adobe Acrobat Pro. 

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Price & plans

  • Pro is the most expensive version of Acrobat, but it’s also included in Adobe’s All Apps Creative Cloud bundle. 

It’s not going to be a surprise to learn that Pro is the most expensive Acrobat version - $19.99 / £19.97 a year paid monthly (monthly and annual upfront subscriptions are also available). 

Unlike Acrobat Standard though, you can opt for a seven-day free trial, if you’d like to check its features out, but it does involve you initiating a subscription, so don’t forget to cancel it in time if you decide the app’s not for you.

There’s also an alternative way to grab a copy of Acrobat Pro: by getting an All Apps Creative Cloud subscription. It’s more expensive, but bundles the PDF editor with dozens of other apps like Photoshop and Premiere Pro, that all integrate seamlessly. This means that if you already have a subscription to handle your professional creative work (or you need one), you already have the most full featured version of Acrobat. 

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5 

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Interface & experience

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

The interface is the same as for Reader and Standard: clean, simple and efficient (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Very elegant and well designed interface, offering you various ways of performing the same action, which gives you the flexibility of using the one that suits you best.

Just like Reader and Standard - and just as you’d hope, expect, dream - Acrobat Pro’s interface is clean, simple, well-designed. We found the tools are easy to locate and use, offering you various ways of working. 

All told, this creates a highly flexible interface that works for you. Acrobat Pro doesn’t force you to alter your workflow, to do it the Adobe way or else. It’s a fantastic piece of design, particularly for Standard and Pro. We did find Reader’s interface felt more like an advert for Adobe’s superior PDF editors. 

  • Interface: 4/5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Standard tools

Adobe Acrobat Standard during our review process

These are the tools we used during both Standard and Pro reviews (Image credit: Adobe )
  • All the features available in the Standard edition are present and correct in Pro’s comprehensive toolkit

As you’d expect, all the tools available in Standard can be accessed in Pro. This means you’re able to comment on a PDF, share it with others and track the progress of those files. You can change a PDF’s format, and export it as a Microsoft document (Word, Excel or PowerPoint), turn a PDF into images, convert it to HTML, edit it, change the embedded text and images, create PDFs from scratch, fill in and sign PDFs (it’s some of the best eSignature software we’ve ever tested), and there’s plenty more besides.

You also have the ability to combine multiple PDFs into a single file, reorder pages, and delete some. When it comes to security, adding a password to protect a PDF’s content and prevent others from editing it is a cinch. This is all done in a very intuitive way, and even though you might select a specific tool, you’re able to effortlessly access others without having to leave the confines of said tool.

It’s a very comprehensive, even impressive, feature-set - and that’s just the tools you get in Acrobat Standard. 

  • Tools: 4.5/5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Pro tools

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Use Acrobat’s Accessibility tool to check if your file meets the accessibility compliance standard (Image credit: Adobe)
  • Some very useful and obviously professional tools, coupled with others that should really be considered mainstream by now.

While the ‘as-Standard’ tools feel weighty, essential for a PDF power user, we couldn’t shake the sense that some tools labelled as “Pro”, don’t really feel that they belong in a “Pro” category. 

Take the ability to turn a scanned paper document into a searchable PDF. Although it’s undoubtedly highly useful to be able to do that, some of the best free PDF editors, and even modern hardware, have been offering such a feature for a while now. Take your iPhone camera: you can take a photo with it and any text contained within it becomes selectable - and all without having to pay a subscription.

Another one which is more understandably a Pro feature, is the ability to create and validate PDFs to meet accessibility standards. This is a very important feature for any business, and once you check a document, you’re given a list of issues to fix to improve a document’s accessibility. Some can be resolved automatically, while others may require a little more work. But, we find it baffling why this is restricted to the Pro version? Wouldn’t this feature be of greater benefit if the Standard version had access to it as well?

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Redacting sensitive information is so easy to do with Acrobat’s ‘Redact’ tool (Image credit: Adobe)

Be that as it may, as with other features included with Acrobat, it all works well and is easy to understand. There’s even a menu called ‘Explain’ which sends you to a webpage telling you why there’s a problem, and why it’s important to fix it.

Something that makes more sense in the Pro arena is the ability to compare two versions of a document. Acrobat will give you a summary of the disparity through a visual representation, and even gives you the ability to filter those results to make it clearer what has changed. We could see this as an invaluable tool in anyone’s workflow.

Redaction can also prove highly useful when there’s sensitive information on a PDF you’d rather not share with others. As you’d expect, the way it works is incredibly simple: just highlight all the problematic sections, and once you’re done, click on ‘Apply’.

In addition to blanking out certain passages and images, there’s another little highlight here. You also have the option of automatically removing a document’s metadata, embedded URLs, comments, and more. Adobe calls it ‘sanitising’ and if you’re into not passing on too much data, it’s a one-click wonder.

It’s clear that Adobe Acrobat Pro’s market is much more of a niche one than who they’re aiming for with ‘Standard’. It’s highly likely most people will be more than satisfied with Standard, even though Pro is the one included with the All Apps Creating Cloud subscription. However, if those additional tools are crucial to your workflow, you’ll find them extremely well implemented and easy to use in Acrobat Pro.

  • Pro tools: 3.5

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Scorecard

Should I buy?

Adobe Acrobat Pro during our review process

Have different versions of the same file? ‘Compare Files’ will look at them both and tell you what’s different about them (Image credit: Adobe)

Buy it if...

You need advanced PDF editing tools, including redaction, and accessibility compliance, or you already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud package, which includes it by default.

Don't buy it if...

You want a simple way to view or make basic alterations to a PDF - in our experience, Pro is equipped with more features than most casual users will need.

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Alternatives

We've tested out man of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives if Pro isn't for you. 

If Acrobat Pro is a bit more than you bargained for, we recommend checking out Adobe Acrobat Standard - it's a great choice for most people's PDF needs. 

For some other top apps, see our pdfFiller review for a browser-based PDF editor that's surprisingly full of features. For a free alternative, see our PDF24 Creator review - it's our favorite free PDF tool and it's packed full of essential document management tools. 

We tested the best free PDF readers- and here are our top picks

PDFgear review
9:10 pm | February 6, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Pro Software & Services | Tags: , | Comments: Off

PDFgear is a multi-platform app whose Singapore-based developers claim offers everything you need to do to a PDF, all under one roof, and all for free. We’ve tested plenty of the best free PDF editors, and when you consider some of these hide more advanced features behind a subscription, or lack specific tools altogether, this is certainly an attractive proposition. 

Like all the best PDF editors, this one is available on desktop, mobile, and the web - so, we took a look at each app to see what it can do.  

PDFgear: Pricing & plans

PDFgear free PDF editor as we test out each app

The desktop version of PDFgear lets you alter the actual existing text of a PDF for free (Image credit: PDFgear)
  • No charge whether you use the service offline or online, no watermark, no need to create an account. 

OK, the advertising says it’s free, but there’s got to be a catch, right? Apparently not. We’ve looked around and tried various features, but it looks like the developers are true to their word: not only is PDFgear totally free to use, it won’t watermark your work, nor will you need to create an online account. 

We contacted the company about this, and their response hinted at the possibility this might not be the case in the future: “PDFgear is free to use at the current stage, and there are no other versions that contain more functions.” So for right now, everything is free, and that’s worth celebrating. 

PDFgear is available to try by clicking here

  • Pricing & plans: 5/5 

PDFgear: Desktop app

PDFgear free PDF editor as we test out each app

The desktop app’s main window showcases all of its one-click tools prominently. If you need to perform more intricate work, use the 'open file’ button on the left  (Image credit: PDFgear)
  • So many features and possibilities - PDFgear lets you edit, annotate, fill in and sign, as well as offering numerous conversion tools

We tested out version 2.1. You’ll find the interface clean and simple. Most of the welcome page is dedicated to various shortcuts which will allow you to perform quick, one-step functions, such as rotating a PDF, taking a screenshot and using the OCR software. As you[‘d expect, there’s also conversion tools and a PDF merger.  

You can display the ‘hottest’ tools, narrow down the results to merely ‘convert’ from or to PDFs, or simply focus on the ‘split & merge’ tools, or just display everything. Click on the tool you need, locate the file you wish to alter, use fields to input your instructions, and save the results. It’s simple, but it’s not drag-and-drop-simple. 

For instance, when splitting a PDF, you need to state which pages you wish to split and put that information in a field. You don’t have a visual representation of the file, or thumbnails of the pages, so no way to just click on the ones you need. Most of the conversion tools don’t need much input, so when it comes to them, such a basic interface works great. 

But these are just the appetisers. To the left is a simple sidebar with a single button: ‘Open File’. This enables you to load a PDF into PDFgear, and gain access to all of its tools. This is where editing the text contained within PDFs is possible. Highlighting text, adding shapes, overlaying images, inserting new URL links, notes, it’s all there for you to use. 

You’ll find some tabs at the top of the page. This is from where you can access the signing and form filling options for instance. There’s even a way to set a password to access your document, or redact certain sensitive sections of it. PDFgear covers pretty much all the bases. 

  • Desktop app: 4.5/5

PDFgear: Mobile app

PDFgear free PDF editor as we test out each app

You can easily annotate and manipulate a PDF on the go, and best of all, the app works in either orientation  (Image credit: PDFgear)
  • A good number of options while you’re on the go, but the potential privacy issue when it comes to accessing your camera from within the app could be a concern for some. 

On Android and iOS, PDFgear lacks the shortcut feature that is so prominently displayed in the desktop version. We also couldn’t find a way to edit the text already present in a PDF. However, the annotation options are vast. The interface works in either landscape or portrait orientation, you can highlight and underline text in multiple colours, draw, add shapes and notes, pretty much the same as what you can do with the Desktop version. 

There’s a cool feature when adding a Text Box: you can turn on your phone’s camera and grab any text it sees. PDFgear will automatically OCR said text and insert it into your document as a moveable and resizable text box. The character recognition isn’t perfect, but thankfully, you'll be able to edit the content, font size and colour. 

There is however a privacy concern when using an iPhone (we couldn’t check this on an Android device). Usually, when you choose to access your camera for the first time from a new app, your iPhone asks you for permission for it to do so, but here, no such permission was requested. Maybe something Apple should look into? 

Additional features include organising pages, creating new ones, and splitting pages from a PDF, as well as built-in eSignature software. It’s a great tool to have when you need to annotate a PDF on the go, and you get to import documents directly from your iPhone, iCloud Drive or Dropbox.  

  • Mobile app: 3.5/5

PDFgear: Web app

PDFgear free PDF editor as we test out each app

You can use PDFgear through your web browser, and although it works fine, it’s not as elegant as the other options open to you  (Image credit: PDFgear)
  • If you need to annotate or fill in a PDF and you’re nowhere near your computer or phone, this would be a godsend.

If you don’t have your computer or mobile device handy, but still need to work on some documents, you can do this without having to download an app onto the machine you’re borrowing: just use PDFgear straight from the developers’ website under the ‘Products’ menu, then select the online tool you’d like to use. 

When it comes to annotation, form building, conversation, splitting and merging, and more, the online tools are very similar to the Desktop version. The only drawback is an interface that isn’t ideally suited for the purpose: you constantly have to visit a dropdown menu to choose the tool you need, and doing so overwrites whatever document you might’ve had on the page at the time. 

The service’s forte lies in its desktop app, so it isn’t too surprising the online version isn’t as polished. PDFgear even quietly urges you to download their app, with a prominent red button, top right of the page. Despite this, you can do everything you’d expect, aside from editing the text of a PDF. We weren’t able to find a tool that does that. The ‘Edit PDF’ option is actually the annotation tool. 

The biggest drawback is of course having to be online to use the service, which isn’t surprising, but it’s worth noting that if your internet drops, so will your ability to work in PDFgear, and if you’re not comfortable uploading a document in order to work on it, then this version is a no-go for you. 

PDFgear works best and is the most feature-rich on a desktop (or laptop), but it’s good to have options, as the mobile version can be fantastic when you’re on the go, while the online version could save your bacon if you’ve got no other option. The fact this app is free and so feature rich is most impressive, just as long as it remains that way. 

  • Web app: 3.5/5

PDFgear: Scorecard

Should I buy?

PDFgear free PDF editor as we test out each app

The various manipulating and conversion tools are easy to access, but lack the visual element that would make them truly easy to use  (Image credit: PDFgear)

Buy it if...

You’re in the market for a powerful and versatile PDF editor, that works on any device you happen to be in front of when you need it.  

Don't buy it if...

You don’t need to edit, annotate or fill in a PDF, or you view free services with deep suspicion. 

PDFgear: Alternatives

If PDFgear doesn't do what you need, check out Adobe Acrobat. Soda PDF Online, Nitro PDF Pro, and Foxit PDF Editor. If you’re on a Mac, give Apple Preview a look. It's fairly basic, but contains many common features for free 

8:54 pm | May 18, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

While we may still be some distance away from those promised paper-free offices, it stubbornly remains a vital part of plenty of workflows. But with the rise in remote working and a global marketplace, many companies are working to ease us into the true digital future. We see it now in the best PDF editors and the best cloud storage services. But when it comes to us stamping our approval on contracts, reports, forms, and so on, one of the best eSign software tools is Sign.Plus

  • You can try Sign.Plus by clicking here

Sign.Plus: Pricing & plans

Sign.Plus eSign software in action

(Image credit: Sign.Plus)
  • A subscription based service that gets more expensive the more features it offers. There’s also a limited free option

To start with, Sign.Plus is an online service, so there’s nothing to download, and it’ll work on any computer you’re using. 

This is a paid subscription service with multiple tiers. The Personal plan is the most affordable, $120 a year or $15 a month, if you’d rather not commit yourself to 12-months of the service.

The plan only allows one user to access the service. You can submit 10 signature requests per month, create 5 templates, set reminders, apply expiration dates, have a real-time audit trail, and also access your files remotely via a mobile app.

The Professional plan allows up to 5 users per account, and removes any signature request limits. In addition to what Personal offers, you’re able to organize your files into folders, and gain SMS Integration. This is priced at $30 a month, or $240 a year. 

The Business plan removes the limit on users - or at least just labels it as ‘multiple users’ without setting an exact number - and brings Zapier and Slack integration. It also includes custom branding for $50 a month or $360 a year. 

Finally, the Enterprise plan, which includes Salesforce integration, Single Sign On, advanced security, data residency and priority support. This is more of a custom service, and as such Sign.Plus doesn’t advertise its cost - you need to contact them for a tailored quote.

If you're curious to see if the service matches your expectations, Sign.Plus also offers a free option. It obviously has limitations but should be more than enough to give you an idea of what to expect.

  • Pricing & plans: 4/5

Sign.Plus: Getting started

Sign.Plus eSign software in action

A search result presents your with pages of large thumbnails to help you choose the exact shot you want  (Image credit: Sign.Plus)
  • You have various options to set up your signature, from type, to drawn, to scanned

Once you’ve logged in, the first thing you’ll need to do is create your signature. You start this process by clicking on Define Your Signature, where you’ll face a number of options.

There’s Type, offering you 16 different fonts to base your signature on - all previewed with your name, as you’d expect. By default, they come with a Sign.Plus Frame, which is a sort of legal watermark shown in the top left corner of your signature. You can turn this on or off via the cog wheel icon, lower right of that section of the interface.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, there’s the Draw option, where you use your mouse or trackpad to replicate your signature. But these don’t compare to signing with a real pen, so the Upload option is a welcome addition, as long as you have access to a scanner, or camera. You even have a couple of options to clean up your photo - namely ‘Contrast’ and ‘Brightness’, as well as a cropping tool. It’s no photo editor, but we found it added a nice touch. 

As far as we could gather, you can only choose one of these options, and can’t have a stack of different signatures to choose from.

If you also need to add your initials to documents, Sign.Plus also caters for that, although you need to find that feature in the ‘Profile’ section. Click on Change next to Set Initials, and you’ll find the process to be identical to the signature setup.

  • Getting started: 4/5

Sign.Plus: Signing

Sign.Plus eSign software in action

Some contributors offer you a link to their main website to see all that they have to offer  (Image credit: Sign.Plus)
  • Some basic text, checkbox and date tools along with the expected signature, to fill in a document. Not as intuitive nor as fast as it could be

Now, having focussed our attention on signatures and initials, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is all Sign.Plus offers. But the clue’s in the name. Now we’ve dealt with the ‘Sign’, let’s check out the ‘Plus’.

Start by uploading a document and select Sign Myself to access it within the interface. The file’s preview will take center stage, with tools to the left and right, ready for you to customize it. Your signature and initials can be found top left, but you also have Date, Text and Checkbox options, which are there to help you fill in forms.

Drag whichever one you need from the left sidebar onto the document. You’ll find guides to help you position it precisely as you move it. around. When selected, you’ll see various customization options in the right sidebar.

Sign.Plus eSign software in action

(Image credit: Sign.Plus)

A Text box will offer you a choice of three fonts (Sans Serif, Monospace, or Serif), plus you get to change the size and choose between black, blue, green, or red. You don’t type in the document preview area, but in the right sidebar’s Prefill Text field. Unfortunately, we found typing there extremely slow, having to wait a few seconds for each letter to appear once we’d typed it.

Checkboxes have a few options, ranging from a tickbox, a filled in circle, a square, a tick inside a square or a circle, that sort of thing. It’s also easy to resize it within the document itself so it fits the existing formatting more precisely.

The Date will add today’s date, while offering you a choice of formats, depending on which part of the world you’re from.

Once you’ve filled in and signed the document, Sign.Plus offers you the option of either sending it directly to someone, or downloading it to your computer.

When you upload a document, you also have the option to ‘Request Signature’. This allows you to send it to multiple recipients, and also to choose whether they need to sign the file or merely keep a copy for their records.

You get to fill in your own part of the document (if needed - the steps are the same as described above), write an email within the confines of the Sign.Plus interface, and you’re done. The recipient will be able to see the document, but will be unable to make any alterations or even sign it without getting a Sign.Plus account themselves.

However, we did find what might be a glitch: even though you have no tools at your disposal if you’re not logged in, you can still click on Done and the sender will get a notification that you signed the document - even though you didn’t. This could lead to some potential problems, depending on the legality of the document.

  • Signing: 3/5

Sign.Plus: Scorecard

Should I try?

Sign.Plus eSign software in action

Click on a thumbnail to see a larger representation of it, with options to download, visit the contributor’s portfolio, or contact them directly  (Image credit: Sign.Plus)

Try it if...

You need a way to fill in and sign a document digitally, and need to send it to others to do the same. 

Don't try it if...

You only need to do this occasionally, so a subscription might not offer value for money - although the free plan may prove useful. 

Apple Preview review
11:12 am | July 26, 2022

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Bundled with every modern Mac, the Apple Preview app may be software you use often, yet you might not think too much about its capabilities. After all, it’s just a quick and easy image viewer and PDF reader for Mac, there when you need it. But did you know it contains some tools that could help you fill in a PDF form, and even sign it digitally?

That’s right, Apple Preview is much more than just one of the best free PDF reader. There’s potentially no need for expensive online tools like eSign software services - your (albeit not cheap) Mac can do that from the moment you take it out of the box. Let’s take a closer look. 

Apple Preview: Interface

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Apple Preview’s interface is clean and simple, yet offering you all the tools you need to read through a document and search for specific sections (Image credit: Apple)
  • The interface has that classic Apple minimalism, but all the options you need to look through and search a document are there

Software gets updated all the time, so for the purposes of this review, we’ll be taking a look at Preview version 11, running on Ventura, ie, MacOS 13. However, you’ll find the interface hasn’t changed in a good long while, making this review potentially relevant should you own an older copy.

Apple being Apple, the interface is as bare and streamlined as can be, with only a few icons present at the top of the window. If you’re browsing through a PDF, scrolling down will take you to the following page by default in a continuous scroll. You also have the option to see the document page per page, or have two pages displayed on the screen at the same time. There’s also the possibility of displaying thumbnails of each page in a sidebar to the left, helping you find the one you’re looking for more quickly. There’s also a search field top right, which will work as long as your PDF is properly formatted (most are, but some contain only images of text which negates that option, as it would for any other similar software).

All very simple and straightforward, but we’re not here to just browse through documents. We need to manipulate it in various ways.

  • Interface: 4.5/5

Apple Preview: Getting started

Apple Preview's clean interface in action on display

Apple Preview's interface is pretty bare, leaving the focus on the document you’re perusing  (Image credit: Apple)

So just how good is Preview? At first glance, it looks like you can do pretty much everything Adobe Acrobat Reader DC does (without being bombarded with adverts to upgrade, of course).

Double-click on a PDF (or image - but we’ll take those as a given and focus on the documents in question for this review), and it opens up, just as you’d expect. You can scroll through the document, zoom in or out of it, and even print it if you like.

There’s a thumbnail sidebar you can trigger on the left that allows you to scroll through a multi-page document with ease, by displaying a tiny version of all available pages, one above the other. Dragging the border between it and the main preview section lets you increase or decrease the size of those thumbnails.

Scrolling can be set on a page by page basis, or as a continuous scroll, and if your screen is large enough to see them without squinting too much, you can also set Preview to show you two pages side by side if you prefer.

You’ll find a large search field top right of the interface, which you can use to find specific words within the document (as long as the PDF is properly formatted of course, and not just a JPEG of a page formatted as a PDF, but this is a problem for every PDF reader).

  • Getting started: 5/5 

Apple Preview: Tools

Highlighting text in free PDF reader Apple Preview

Highlight your text with multi-coloured digital highlighters  (Image credit: Apple)
  • Lots of tools to cover broad plenty of use-cases

If that’s all you need, fantastic! Preview can cater to all your needs. But there’s more. What if you need to make notes, for instance? You’ll find a wealth of tools to help you achieve this.

There’s a highlighter pen for instance, which comes with a choice of five colors, and even offers you the possibility of underlining or striking through text (only in red for those two options, mind).

But if you need more than that, say hello to the Markup Toolbar. It isn’t activated by default, but a simple click of an icon will reveal numerous other features.

With it, you can add text boxes to any page, should you need to add a comment. The editing flexibility of these boxes is as extensive as you’d expect from a basic word processor: you can change the font, alignment, style, color, add a background fill, or an outline color - there’s a lot of flexibility there. Preview will remember those settings and apply them to the next text box you create - but you’re of course free to alter it should you so wish.

Use Apple Preview's text tools to do more

Add  notes, objects, freehand drawings, and more to your documents  (Image credit: Apple)

But that’s not all: you have freehand tools to create editable shapes. If you prefer more defined ones, you have a handful of pre-made templates, like a line with an arrow, a speech bubble, a circle, a square, another with rounded edges, that sort of thing. These shapes are fully customizable too.

If post-it notes (or equivalent) are more your thing, you can add those as well, and place them wherever you like (only when they’re minimized). And if you’re bored of those yellow notes, that’s just the default color - the highlighters’ five colors are also available for your notes.

With eSign software growing in popularity, you have the ability to add a digital signature and use that toolbar to insert it wherever you like on the document. You'll find our thoughts on this tool.

This should cover most people’s needs. But Apple went further still…

  • Tools: 5/5 

Apple Preview: PDF editor

Reordering pages in Apple Preview, the free PDF reader for Mac

Apple Preview allows you to reorder pages, rotate them, delete them, or copy them to another document  (Image credit: Apple)
  • Not a true editor, but useful and easy to customize and reorder documents

Now this title could be a little misleading as you can’t actually edit the content of an existing file using Preview. This isn't a full PDF editor with all the tools that brings. Technically, it's almost a free PDF editor, since you can delete unwanted pages, reorder them, change their orientation, and essentially customize a document to focus on just what you need.

Even better, you can copy one or more pages from one document, and paste them into an entirely new one. Or, if you have two documents open side by side with the thumbnail sidebar switched on, just drag a page from one sidebar to the other to duplicate it in that second document.

This kind of flexibility is most welcome, and although you can’t create a PDF document from scratch - an alternative would be to use Pages and save it as a PDF. You can just save the sections you’re most interested in to create a custom PDF perfect for your needs.

When it’s time to save this new document, click on the ‘Permissions’ button to be offered a wealth of options: you can choose to password protect it, and even allow the reader certain abilities, even if they don’t know the password, such as printing, inserting pages, or filling form fields, for instance.

  • PDF editor: 4/5 

Apple Preview: Annotations

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Annotate, draw on, add notes to any file Preview can open (Image credit: Apple)
  • Drawing, adding shapes, and even notes to a document can all be done via Preview’s Annotate tools

Preview lets you make notes on any document you can open with it. This is done thanks to its annotation tools, which you can access either via the MenuBar (Tools > Annotate), or by clicking on the relevant icon in the toolbar (the circle with the tip of a pen inside it).

This reveals a new Toolbar, directly beneath the main one. With it, you can draw directly on the page, or add various shapes, even manipulate each point of the curve you’ve created (you’re essentially working with bezier handles and vector images).

You’ll also find ways to add notes to a document (think of them as digital post-it notes), and perhaps more relevant to this review, add text boxes, or even your signature, both of which will prove invaluable when filling in a digital document.

  • Annotations: 4/5

Apple Preview: Forms

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Add as many text boxes you need to fill in a form, and customise them with the font, size, colour and alignment you prefer (Image credit: Apple)
  • The Text tool is very versatile although control of your chosen font cannot be done from the Form Filling toolbar

The text tool is the best - and only - way to add text boxes to a document, and reposition them so they’re over the sections that need your input. It’s worth noting that the main Toolbar has a Form Filling Toolbar icon, to the right of the Markup Toolbar we explored. However, it’s best to stick with Markup when filling in forms for one simple reason: Markup contains tools to edit your text box, altering the font, size, colour and alignment, whereas the Form Filling Toolbar, puzzlingly, doesn’t.

Those text boxes can be resized left and right, but not up or down, but it’s not really an issue. The box extends down the page automatically the more you write in it. Changing the style is a simple matter of clicking on the right icon to reveal an expanded menu, where you get to choose from any of the fonts installed on your Mac, along with your preferred colour, size, format and alignment.

One thing we appreciated during our testing is the next text box you add will bear those choices. So, if you want a consistent look for your text boxes going forward, you only need to set your preference once. It's also possible to copy and paste a text box. The position of it will be close to the existing one. Should you move to another page and hit paste, the new box’s position will be identical to the original, but on the different page. Repositioning them is but a matter of clicking and dragging.

The text box allows you to fill in any form you can open in Preview, but what about signing a document?

  • Forms: 3.5/5

Apple Preview: Signatures

Apple Preview during our eSign software tests

Adding a signature is quick and easy, although the connection to your iPhone misses a reorientation trick (Image credit: Apple)
  • Creating a signature has got that Apple panache to it

If you’re aware of online digital signature services, you’ll know that they all offer various ways for you to import your signature into the system. They allow you to choose a cursive font to write your name, sign using a mouse or trackpad, or import a photo of your signature. Apple’s approach is similar yet different. They offer different options, although the option to use a cursive font is conspicuous by its absence.

You’ll have three choices available to you, the first one being Trackpad, which is greyed out if your computer doesn’t have one. Maybe it’s because Apple controls the software and the hardware, but we found tracing our signature on a trackpad to be the finest we’ve experienced to date. It had just the right amount of smoothness and precision to get a pretty decent approximation of our trademark squiggle.

Camera is the second method. Hold up a signed piece of paper to your webcam, and Preview will cleanly extract it. It works best if it’s taken from a blank sheet of paper, as there are no photo editor options. But more often than not, you do end up with a signature on a transparent background.

iPhone is the final choice. Ideal for those who have no trackpad, no available piece of paper, but have their phone handy. The concept is very similar to Trackpad, with a very cool ‘it just works’ moment, as Apple Preview seamlessly connects to your mobile device to perform the task. Annoyingly, if you need to use your phone in landscape mode to sign, you’ll have to rotate it manually each time you add it to a document. You’d think Apple’s programmers would’ve thought of that, as signing holding your phone vertically seriously reduces your canvas size.

Once Preview has your signature, you can name it, and keep as many different signatures as you need. It can then be added, moved, and resized in any document, just like any other object. 

What Preview doesn’t offer, which online services do, is a means of sending documents to others, and tracking their progress. However, it’s an ideal solution should you need to fill in and sign forms digitally for yourself, without having to log in to an online service or pay monthly for the privilege.

  • Signatures: 4/5

Apple Preview: Final verdict

For a free PDF reader that comes pre-installed with every Mac, Apple Preview is a remarkably powerful tool, offering you the basics, while also allowing you to perform what could be considered pretty powerful editing and note taking functions. You'll even find a PDF merging tool  and a seamless way to combine PDFs.

Unless you need a fully-fledged PDF editor (or even the best free PDF editor) to actually modify the content of a PDF, Preview should be able to cater to all of your needs. It’s just a shame it’s only available on Macs. 

Apple Preview scorecard

Should I try?

Apple Preview's clean interface in action on display

(Image credit: Apple)

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