Everyone dreams of a paperless office. To be fully digital, however, you need the right tools to electronically send, sign, and store important documents like contracts. That’s where eSign apps come in.
An electronic signature app is an app that allows you to sign paperwork digitally. But how do you know which one is right for your unique business needs? We’ve done the legwork for you, testing dozens of apps to find the ones that will best help you cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s—in your signature, that is.
Here are the seven best apps you can use to sign documents. Click on any app to learn more about why we chose it, or keep reading for more context on electronic signature apps.
The 7 Best eSignature Apps
- DocuSign for tracking the entire document lifecycle
- HelloSign for users on a budget
- Adobe Sign for Adobe integration
- Preview for occasionally signing documents
- RightSignature for added security
- Yousign for sending lots of documents
- Contractbook for collaborating on paperwork
What Makes a Great Electronic Signature App?
Let’s start with the basics: the most important feature in any eSignature app is the ability to add an electronic signature. The easier it is to create and store that signature, the better the app experience. We kept this in mind while researching this list and only included apps that are straightforward to use.
But there’s more to signature apps than just the signature. An eSignature app is especially useful if you can send the document for other people to sign and then track its progress from a unified dashboard. It’s a big plus if you can invite others to collaborate when creating the paperwork, too.
It’s also important to understand the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature. They may sound the same, but a digital signature has added layers of security used to identify the signer and protect the information in the document. You can learn more about digital signatures from the Department of Homeland Security.
If you simply need to sign a PDF and print it out, you may not need any extra security features, and a basic electronic signature app will do the trick. But if you’re storing and sending a lot of sensitive contracts, the added security of a digital signature app may be what you need.
Most of the apps on this list offer basic features, like the ability to password-protect a document so that only the correct person can sign it. Some eSignature apps offer steps beyond that, like requiring the signer to receive a verification code via SMS before they can sign. And many (but not all) apps included on this list use bank-level encryption when transmitting and storing documents for extra security.
Before you invest in a specific piece of software, you may want to double-check the security features offered to know if they meet your business or personal needs. What qualifies as a legally binding signature can vary by country, and different types of documents may have different requirements. Compliance and security information is usually provided on the app’s website.
Best Electronic Signature App for Tracking the Entire Document Lifecyle
DocuSign (Web, iOS, Android, Windows)
DocuSign is one of the most popular electronic signature apps available. Getting started with DocuSign is fairly straightforward: when you sign up, the app will prompt you to upload a document, prepare it for signature, select recipients, and send it. You can also manage your drafts from DocuSign’s dashboard, so if you’re not quite ready to send a document yet, that’s okay.
DocuSign’s Quick View sidebar also makes it simple to track the status of documents throughout their entire lifecycle. You can see which require action, which are waiting on other people, and which are complete. You can even see which are expiring soon—a super useful feature if you work with lots of deadlines.
DocuSign Price: From $25/user/month for a Standard plan with personalized branding
Automate DocuSign with DocuSign’s Zapier Integrations.
Best Electronic Signature App for Users on a Budget
HelloSign (Web, iOS, Android)
HelloSign is one of the simplest and easiest ways for individuals on a budget to sign documents or collect signatures. With a browser extension, HelloSign lets you sign documents in Gmail, or use its mobile apps for iOS and Android to sign documents on the go. You can type in a signature, add initials, or fill out a form with text editing. If you’re the one needing to collect another person’s signature, send a document by email right from the app.
HelloSign’s saved signatures are a timesaver, too. You can create a new signature by uploading an image file, dragging your finger over your trackpad, or taking a picture of your signature with your phone. If none of that works for you, use one of HelloSign’s handwriting fonts to type your signature. Place your signature and resize it if necessary before clicking Continue.
Enter your recipient’s email address, add a note to include with your signed document, and hit Send. Preserve a copy of the signed document for your files by clicking Download. From there you can track your documents, including those awaiting an eSignature, on the Documents page linked in the sidebar.
HelloSign Price: Free for 3 documents/month with one user; from $13/month for Pro plan with unlimited documents
Automate HelloSign with HelloSign’s Zapier Integrations.
Best Electronic Signature App for Adobe Integration
Adobe Sign (Web, iOS, Android)
Adobe Sign sets a high standard for signature apps. As the benchmark for professional document apps, users expect a lot from Adobe—and Adobe Sign delivers.
Even if your recipients don’t have an Adobe account, they can open and sign a document from any browser or mobile device. Alternatively, sign from within your most-used apps with Adobe’s enterprise application integration, or keep signers in your business applications with Adobe’s API. This makes it a great option for users who already use other Adobe software in their day-to-day work.
Adobe Sign Price: From $29.99/month for a Small Business plan with up to 9 users
Best Electronic Signature App for Occasionally Signing Documents
Preview comes pre-installed with Mac OS X and can be easily overlooked as an eSig tool. With Apple’s OS X Yosemite release—which added the Markup feature to the app—it’s just gotten better.
With Preview, you can fill in a form using text annotation, and you’ll have a lot of control over how your text looks. The signature feature is a real highlight, though. Use your trackpad to create a new signature, or sign a piece of paper and Preview will capture your signature using your Mac’s camera. Preview will then save your signature for future use, and you need only place it in your document. Best of all, you can open an email with a PDF, eSign it right inside your message with the Preview markup extension, and send it back—all without ever opening another app.
Preview doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that many dedicated eSignature apps offer, though, so it’s best if you only need to sign documents occasionally and don’t need watertight security features.
Preview Price: Included free with all Macs
Best Electronic Signature App for Built-in Compliance Features
RightSignature (Web, iOS, Android, Windows)
RightSignature is an electronic signature app created by Citrix. Like most eSignature apps, RightSignature allows you to upload, prepare, and send documents for signature—as well as receive them, sign them, and return them to another sender.
Where RightSignature shines, however, is its built-in security and document management features. If you need to make sure that electronic signatures are extra secure and can only be signed by the right person, RightSignature can be a huge help. You can easily password-protect documents that you send for signature, set expiration dates for documents, and even cancel or void documents from a central toolbar.
RightSignature also makes it simple to make sure all the right people sign off on a document at the right time with its Signer Sequencing feature. If you’re sending the paperwork to multiple people, you can choose the order in which they sign off on it. This is a great way to implement a final security review. For example, you can have a new employee sign off on their contract first and then send it to an HR specialist for review and their signature.
RightSignature Price: From $12/month for Personal plan with one user
Automate RightSignature with RightSignature’s Zapier Integrations.
Best Electronic Signature App for Sending a High Volume of Documents
Yousign is a Europe-based electronic signature app. It’s pretty similar to other eSignature software, though its UX is a little cuter and more modern than some programs targeted toward large businesses.
What sets Yousign apart from other apps are its Procedures: a set of steps, signers, and notifications that you can re-use whenever you send similar documents. This feature is great if you have to regularly send lots of paperwork to the same people or if you work with a standardized document, like a basic contract. And because you can customize the notification settings for each Procedure, it’s easy to make sure that you get signatures in time for all of your deadlines. It also lets you designate whether signatories are internal or external, so you can create Procedures based on whether someone inside or outside your business needs to sign a document.
Let’s say you’re a small business that hires a lot of seasonal employees, for example, and you send them all the same general contract. With Yousign, you don’t have to manually prepare and send the contract to each employee. You can create a Procedure that sets a signature deadline, password-protects the contract, and automatically sends personalized reminders to each new hire on a schedule.
Yousign Price: From €25/user/month for a Team plan with unlimited signatures
Best Electronic Signature App for Collaborating on Paperwork
For many businesses, paperwork is a team effort. You often need people from legal, accounting, and other departments to help put together a document before you can send it for signature. Or you might expect to get change requests to a contract before it’s signed. But managing that sort of collaboration—and making sure you get everything signed on time—can be a bit of a nightmare.
Enter Contractbook. It’s more than just an electronic signature app; it’s also a contract management tool. That means it has built-in features for collaborating on a document, requesting changes, tracking revisions, and more.
For example, the app offers a straightforward menu that divides your documents into Signed, Pending, Requested Changes, Rejected, and Uploaded categories. You can see the status of all your documents at-a-glance or filter them by signature date, whether they’ve been sent or received, by relevant tags, and more. These features are especially great if you’re working with paperwork that has to go through an extensive legal review process before it can be signed.
Contractbook Price: Starts free; from €4/month for a Standard plan with one user
Automate Contractbook with Contractbook’s Zapier Integrations.
So Which Electronic Signature App Should I Use?
There are a wealth of electronic signature apps on the market. Most of them are fairly similar, so it’s important to think about your paperwork process before you commit to a particular app. Will you only be sending one standard contract? Do you need to collaborate with others on changes to the document before it’s signed? How important are added security features?
Once you have a good idea of what your paperwork preparation process looks like, it’s also important to consider what happens to documents after they’re signed. Many businesses want to store important documents in a dedicated cloud storage app like Box, but manually moving digital paperwork around can be a hassle. You can avoid this by choosing an eSignature app that integrates well with your cloud storage app, either natively or by using a platform like Zapier. With the right tools, you can conquer that mountain of paperwork.
Originally published in April 2015 by Paula DuPont, we’ve updated this post with new selections and app descriptions. We also shifted our focus to just eSignature apps and removed apps for faxing and scanning.