App Spotlight: Sign documents on the go with HelloSign

HelloSign for iOS.

We live in an increasingly paperless world, but just try to get someone's signature without one or more sheets of letter-size stock. Whether you need to collect signatures or fork over yours, it usually means dealing with printed matter.

Or maybe not, if you sign up for HelloSign. This service and its companion app for iOS make it surprisingly easy to sign and send documents electronically. Best of all, it's free.

To get started, you simply sign up for an account (or save the hassle and sign in using an existing Google account), then upload an image file containing your signature -- or draw one via a browser-based tool.

After that quick initial setup, you can install the HelloSign app on your iDevice, then sign in with the same credentials. (Actually, you can bypass the Web portion entirely and set up your account right inside the app.)

The app gives you two options. First, you can "scan" a paper document by taking a photo with your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Second, if you receive a PDF via e-mail, you can open that attachment in HelloSign.

In my quick tests, both options worked quite well. Once you've got your document loaded, it's a simple matter to add text, a checkmark, a date stamp, and, of course, your signature.

Curiously, however, the app requires you to create that signature on the fly by drawing on the screen. I didn't see any option to use the signature I'd uploaded to my Web account. That's not a huge deal, but it did seem an odd oversight.

On the flipside, HelloSign does integrate with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and, most recently, Evernote. When you connect one or more of your accounts to the service, it will automatically forward all signed and signature-requested documents to those accounts.

You can do quite a bit more with HelloSign in your browser than you can with the app, but the latter is ideal for those times when you need to quickly and electronically sign and return a document. It's fast, easy to use, and free. What's not to like?

If you're interested in other e-signature solutions, be sure to check out Adobe Reader for desktops, Android, and iOS. It's equally adept at helping you sign and send documents, and it's equally free.

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