Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

A follow on to this question about extracting the signature image. Is it possible to just copy the plist file containing the signature from one Mac to another? Is there a recommended method for exporting and import signatures from one Mac to another I should follow instead?

I could "sign" a blank PDF and take a screen shot of it but but I really want the same password to go along with the image so it's 100% the same signature on the other Mac as the one I'm using on this Mac.

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 18 down vote accepted

This was covered by Aussie Bloke's blog when Lion arrived. Here are the steps to get both the file where the signature is stored as well as the associated keychain entry to a second Mac.

On the source Mac:

  • Open the ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/PreferencesFolder
    • In Finder, click the Go menu and hold option to show the Library folder
    • Alternatively, press ⇧⌘G whilst Finder is active and enter the path above to directly navigate
  • Copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist file
  • Launch Keychain Access
  • Ensure the login keychain is selected and choose the Passwords category
  • Right-click the Preview Signature Privacy password and select Copy Password to Clipboard. This is the password used to encrypt the signature images.
  • Paste it into a text editor and save the file. You'll need to transfer this to your other computer(s)

On the destination Mac(s):

  • Launch Preview, open Preferences, and select the Signatures tab to ensure the default configuration files and folders have been created
  • Exit Preview
  • Open the ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences folder
  • Copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist file to the folder, overwriting any existing file
  • Launch Keychain Access
  • Locate the Preview Signature Privacy password in the login keychain and double click to edit
  • Click the Show password checkbox and paste the password you copied from your original machine.
  • Click Save Changes and you're done!

In situations where the target machine has no extant Preview Signature Privacy record in Keychain Access, you must create a new record. This is necessary when the target machine (like a Mac Pro with an older or third-party display attached) has no camera which means no Signature file can be created from within Preview. After you launch Keychain Access per above:

  • Click on the + icon to create a new entry
  • Enter Preview Signature Privacy in the Keychain Item Name field
  • Enter Preview in the Account Name field
  • Paste the password copied from your original machine, per above procedure
  • Click Add
  • In the newly created entry, click Access Control
  • Add Preview to applications allowed access
  • Click Save Changes and you're done!
share|improve this answer
I’m on OS X Mavericks, and when I try to copy the password, I get the following error: Access to this item is restricted. (-25320). Has anyone found a workaround for this? –  Zev Eisenberg Mar 5 '14 at 21:32
False alarm. Some combination of Keychain First Aid, Repair Disk Permissions, and restarting has fixed the problem. –  Zev Eisenberg Mar 5 '14 at 21:57

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.