Gone are the days when you needed expensive software to fill out a form on your computer. Even if the form comes in as an uneditable PDF, the free “Nitro PDF Reader” handles it, and can add a digital signature at the end.

The signature looks like a normal written signature. In fact it is a normal written signature; because you wrote it and scanned it. Once added to the program, that signature cannot be altered by someone else in the line of readers and receivers. It also doesn’t have the opaque white box that most signature capture programs create.

We just got in a product loan agreement by email. So instead of having to print it out, sign it and fax it back, we handled the whole thing by email. We started by clicking “type text” on the Nitro PDF Reader menu bar, so we could fill out the form.  Then it was time to add our signature. So we used the signature “stamp” feature and it came in without the surrounding opaque block and in fact looked completely natural, like a real signature.

Nitro PDF Reader is free from, but there is also a professional version, called Nitro PDF Professional. This is $100 from What you get with the professional version is the ability to change every aspect of a PDF, create interactive forms, add security features and stamps such as “paid” or “confidential.” With either version you can add paste-it notes, underlining and lots of other editing features.

The free program works with Evernote, the popular free note-taking and web-clipping program. You can save PDFs to your free Evernote account using the “send to Evernote” option.  Evernote is handy and popular because all of your saved notes, screen captures, to-do lists and so on are accessible from any smart phone or computer.

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