I need to download a banking form and email it back.

After opening the PDF in macOS Preview, I attempt to sign it via Tools > Annotate > Signature

This gives the error:

Without the owner password, you do not have permission to create or modify annotations in the document.

Without the owner password, you do not have permission to create or modify annotations in the document.

Enter the password to unlock annotation of the document.

How can I sign this PDF document?

Adding an annotation seems like it should be controlled by the client, not the document itself. Can I force Preview to add an annotation?

Can I somehow create an unlocked read/write copy of the document without this signature protection?

4 Answers 4


Just want to share my findings, since I find this forum is very helpful - and maybe somebody else would benefit from my findings too.

I encountered the same problem and solved it by saving the file and ADDING an owner password, then reopening it. The procedure:

  1. In Menu, click Menu --> File --> Export ... (if you have the option of "saving file as ... " you can use it too - you want to get a file saving dialogue with encryption option).

  2. In the opened file saving dialogue, enter the file name and directory as you normally do, then click the "Permission" button, enter image description here and in the next dialogue, enter password in the "Owner Password" field, like shown below, then click "Apply". enter image description here

  3. Click "Save" file in the next screen, if it's not already saved.

  4. Reopen the saved file. Try to sign again; this time when it prompts for a password, just type in the password you created / entered before, then it should work.

It might look long, but it's not that complicated. BTW, I used Preview version 11.0 with MacOS Monterey (12.5)

  • This is also a good time to check "Adding Annotations or Signatures" to allow the next person to not have to go through this. Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 2:30
  • 3
    Unfortunately doesn't work anymore on Sonoma (14.2)
    – Laurent
    Commented Jan 9 at 13:24
  • There is no Permissions button on Sonoma 14.2.1 (23C71) Commented Mar 4 at 20:30
  • On Sonoma, the best workaround is to Print -> PDF which generates a completely new PDF free from any password. Unfortunately it does lose any fillable fields and other interactive elements. See apple.stackexchange.com/a/468537/169349 for the most comprehensive answer about this issue.
    – cbreezier
    Commented Apr 8 at 5:59

For a 1 page form

  1. Complete the form except the signature then take a screenshot of it.
  2. Add your signature to the screenshot.
  3. Submit it as an image or save the image as a PDF and submit that.

For a multipage form, if it lets you you can do the above on the signature page and replace the signature page on the form. If you don't have the permissions for that you can do the above with every page.


The PDF has been 'secured' with a password by the bank. If you click on Tools > Show Inspector in Preview (Command I) and then click on the padlock tab, you will see something like this:

enter image description here

which should tell you how the document has been protected.

Ultimately, if the bank has put a password on to stop people altering the document (i.e. adding their signature), then you need to go back to them and complain.

Or do it the old-fashioned way: print it out, sign it, and scan it.

There are tools that will remove password protection on PDFs, but their legality is questionable (depending on where you live), and it's not wise to return a 'cracked' document to a bank.

  • 3
    Print/Sign/Scan is essentially the same "crack" as what I'm seeking, but physical rather than digital...
    – pkamb
    Commented May 16, 2022 at 20:09

EDIT: This method (most possibly) doesn't work for macOS Ventura and above

Duplicate the PDF file and start annotating.

Go to File --> Duplicate.


Shift + Command + S.

  • Doesn't work for me on macOS 13.2.1 (Ventura)
    – drkvogel
    Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 15:27
  • @drkvogel Yes, you're right. It was working on my macOS Monterey system back then. It seems like they've updated it now. I'll edit it in my answer. Thanks for the comment. Commented Mar 11, 2023 at 17:37

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