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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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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/Preferences folder.
    • 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.
  • On OS X Mavericks 10.9 and earlier, copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist file.
  • On OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, copy the com.apple.PreviewLegacySignaturesConversion.plist file.
  • Launch Keychain Access
  • Ensure the login keychain is selected and choose the Passwords category.
  • On OS X Mavericks 10.9 and earlier, right-click the Preview Signature Privacy password and select Copy Password to Clipboard. This is the password used to encrypt the signature images.
  • On OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, right-click the Signature Annotation Privacy password and select Copy Password to Clipboard.
  • 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. Ensure that the process is terminated.
  • Open the ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences folder.
  • On OS X Mavericks 10.9 and earlier, copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist file to the folder, overwriting any existing file.
  • On OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, copy the com.apple.PreviewLegacySignaturesConversion.plist file to the folder, overwriting any existing file.
  • Launch Keychain Access
  • On OS X Mavericks 10.9 and earlier, locate the Preview Signature Privacy password in the login keychain and double-click to edit.
  • On OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, locate the Signature Annotation 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 existing Preview Signature Privacy or Signature Annotation 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. Open Keychain Access as above and do the following:

  • Click on the + icon to create a new entry
  • On OS X Mavericks 10.9 and earlier, enter Preview Signature Privacy in the Keychain Item Name field.
  • On OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, enter Signature Annotation 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!
  • 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
  • 3
    I've got the com.apple.PreviewLegacySignaturesConversion.plist and the Keychain password from the source mac. On the destination mac (Mac Pro running Sierra) I've created the new entry in Keychain Access with the password from the source mac. In the Preview Preferences menu there is only a General tab, Images tab, and PDF tab. No Signatures tab. Is there a way I can get Preview to recognize the new Keychain password item and the new plist in Library/Containers/.../Preferences that it should use? All I get is "A trackpad or iSight camera is required to create a signature." Thanks! – RanLearns Feb 16 '17 at 6:07
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    com.apple.PreviewLegacySignaturesConversion.plist doesn't seem to exist in Sierra. – EDP Jul 6 '17 at 14:03
  • 1
    This answer is dated. See the answer by @Meeh below. – Greg Allen Jan 2 at 17:43
7

On Mac OS X High Sierra (Might be the case on Sierra as well, I can't recall) the signature itself is a base64 encoding of the image in the password field of Signature Annotation Privacy. Copy the account UUID and the content of the password field to your destination mac.

The get info window of the entry

(Create a bogus signature to make Preview create the entry if you're unsure on doing it by yourself)

  • The answer by @Meeh works well if you create the number of signatures before and then modify the password in Keychain-Access. The UUID does not have to be changed. – Jan K. Sep 21 '18 at 10:24
  • This definitely seems like the simplest method. Worked perfectly for me on 10.14 (no need to change the account UUID, just replaced the password data). – devios1 May 14 at 15:30
6

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.

2

To accomplish the transfer of a signature from one machine to another on OS X Yosemite, El Capitan and onwards:

1. Follow the original answer but make the following alterations:

2. The file: com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist does not exist.
Instead, copy: com.apple.PreviewLegacySignaturesConversion.plist.

3. The Keychain Access entry: Preview Signature Privacy does not exist.
Instead, use: Signature Annotation Privacy.

  • Maybe make this an edit on the already well-formed and accepted answer? So there's only one, canonical answer? – Ian C. Jun 16 '16 at 22:50
  • I did update the original answer at the same time I left this answer. However, it seems the original answer has been reverted back to before my changes were made. I will attempt to edit it a second time. – jimjamz Jun 18 '16 at 17:50
  • It seems my edit to the original answer is still under peer review, hence the delay in its update. – jimjamz Jun 18 '16 at 18:13
1

MISSING KEYCHAIN ITEMS?

If the Preview Signature Privacy or Signature Annotation Privacy keychain item is missing from your destination Mac's Keychain Access, an easy way to add it is as follows:

  • Open your Preview app, and create a new signature which will later be replaced by your imported signature(s) from your source Mac. You can create multiple signatures here if you are planning to import multiple signatures from your source Mac.
  • Quit Preview app. This should automatically create the missing Preview Signature Privacy or Signature Annotation Privacy keychain item(s) that you need to have in your Keychain Access.

NOTE: If you are planning to migrate MULTIPLE signatures from your source Mac to your destination Mac(s), make sure to create a new signature for each signature that you plan to migrate. In other words, if you have 3 signatures you want to migrate, make sure you have created 3 Preview Signature Privacy or Signature Annotation Privacy keychain items in your Keychain Access.

1

Actually you don't need all this long process to solve the problem. You just have to sync your Keychain with iCloud in both your Macs and then you'll have your signatures on both. It works, I've tried it right now on MacOS Mojave.

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  • That might not be the case if I need to export my signature to my friend's laptop. – ankii 2 days ago
0

I had an issue on High Sierra where Preview would not save a new signature, and I was unable to restore signatures from another Mac. It turned out to be a corrupt Local Items keychain, which is where Preview stores the Signature Annotation Privacy password item. Since the Local Items keychain was not accepting new entries, Preview could not save new signatures.

Solution: see this SO answer to resolve that problem. After doing that was able to add new keychain entries.

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