If you run a paperless law office, adding a signature (digital or otherwise) is a piece of cake. If you have refused to join the party, there are undoubtedly times when you wish you could just sign something digitally and be done with it.

Adobe Acrobat Pro provides that option, but it also costs a ton. If you use a Mac, give PDFpen a shot as a cheaper alternative.

How it works

Second warning: PDFpen only runs on Mac OS X. If you are a Windows user, you have my sympathy for many different reasons. PDFpen, like Adobe Acrobat, allows you to make all kinds of alterations to PDF files. Notably, both programs will allow you to turn your mouse into a digital pen, allowing you to sign documents without actually printing them.

Both programs also allow OCR recognition–if you scan a document it can recognize the text and make it an editable file. Both programs will also let you add text, shapes, and scribbles to PDF files.

In other words, both programs allow you to make all kinds of modifications to PDF files. The biggest difference is that Adobe Acrobat costs around $450, PDFpen 5 costs $59.95, and PDFpenPro 5 costs $99.95.

Try it out—you might save some money

PDFpen has a free trial, so you can figure out if you like before purchasing. I use Acrobat Pro a fair amount, but I am also relatively sure that I do not use at least 75% of the features it includes.

Frankly, if you are torn between PDF Pen and Adobe Acrobat, check out this handy comparison which shows how the features stack up between the two program. Given that PDFpen appears to be an almost identical product at a much lower price, it could be a nice solution for an attorney going solo who is looking to reduce costs.

1 Comment

  1. Julie Kiernan says:

    I’m on a Mac, but just as MSOffice is standard in most of our firms,I think Acrobat, not Reader, should be the standard. All attorneys, not just their staff, should be able to review, annotate, bookmark, compress, bates, redact and most simply open and navigate the various views of acrobat or reader. PDFpen and Preview are fine, but just like we all mostly use MsOffice, Acrobat seems like a good investment as it is our second most used program. Especially in a digital office, if all attorneys,especially opposing counsel had laptops with Acrobat, or even an up to date version of the free Reader, document exchange would be so much easier. Bookmarks and searchable, OCRed PDFs could be the norm. No paper required. That said I get Adobe Acrobat for free with our ScanSnaps. A great deal.

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