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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.

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For Yosemite, view:… – Beau Smith Aug 21 '15 at 22:40
up vote 20 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/
    • 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 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/ folder
  • Copy the 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!
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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
Doesn't seem to work for Yosemite. Apparently it now encodes the signature as a base64 string and keeps it in the password field of a different password entry. – haridsv May 14 '15 at 4:36
In Yosemite, the file is not in the ~/Library/Containers/ folder. – Beau Smith Aug 21 '15 at 22:39

If your source Mac is portable (i.e. a laptop) then one crude but effective option I have just performed is to do the following:

On the source Mac:

  1. Open a new TextEdit document and go to File > Print
  2. In the PDF dropdown menu select to open PDF in Preview. This will open your blank TextEdit document in Preview
  3. Resize the blank Preview window to fill the screen
  4. Insert your signature in the usual way Tools > Annotate > Signature and resize to be as large as possible

On the destination Mac:

  1. In Preview go to Tools > Annotate > Signature > Manage Signatures
  2. Use the Camera option to make a new signature
  3. Present (i.e. lift it up and show it) your source Mac to the camera on the destination Mac and this will detect the signature and store it

I realise this is similar to scribbling on a sheet of paper and making a new signature in the destination Mac but if this is not to hand then this method has worked for me today. Hope it helps others.

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