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The best e-signature software in 2021

best e-signature software: Adobe Sign
(Image credit: Adobe)

The best e-signature software can save you a huge amount of time and energy if you need to sign and return a lot of documents, or get others to do so. Rather than having to print out documents, sign them with a physical pen and then scan them, it allows you to sign everything digitally using your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. 

It's especially useful for those working at home, and the software can quite quickly pay for itself in terms of the time saved but also by reducing your need for paper and printer ink. That's not to say that the best e-signature software comes cheap, however, so it's worth weighing up the best option for your money. 

We believe that the best e-signature software overall is Adobe Sign. It's packed with features, it's secure, legally sound, and it offers an impressive level of automation. Even better, it's available in a bundle with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, which tops our list of the best PDF editors. See the deal below to get Adobe's software (or keep an eye on our Creative Cloud discount page), or read on for other e-signature software options.

Other tools are worth looking at for specific purposes. See below for our full guide to the best e-signature software available today. We explain the pros and cons of each, and what situations they can serve you for.

The best e-signature software right now

best e-signature software: screengrab of Adobe Sign

(Image credit: Adobe)

01. Adobe Sign

The best e-signature software overall

Specifications
Developer: Adobe
Payment model: Subscription
System: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial?: 7 days
Reasons to buy
+Secure and reliable +Customisable +Excellent integrations
Reasons to avoid
-No free version

First launched in 2006 (as EchoSign), Adobe Sign is our pick of the best e-signature software available. It offers all the signing features you're likely to need, its signatures are legally binding, and it works smoothly, efficiently and reliably. Adobe Sign lets you send, sign, track and manage signatures digitally via a mobile app or web browser. You can also request e-signatures from clients, create branded forms, track responses, get email notifications, and send reminders. 

The software meets, or exceeds, international security and legal compliance standards and its e-signatures are legally binding in nearly every industrialised nation and many less-developed countries too. There are lots of options for customisation in case there are specific workflows you need to follow, whether for your own use or due to company policies. There's also a good audit trail, which makes it easy to track what's happened to your signature requests, and you get good notifications. 

The app integrates nicely with other software in the Adobe Document Cloud, as well as Microsoft Office apps. Basically, this is first-class software that does its job very well. The only real downside is the cost. It's by no means the cheapest option on our list since you'll have to subscribe to Adobe's PDF pack or Acrobat Pro DC, but if you have to sign a lot of documents (or have a lot of documents signed), you'll find it's worth it in terms of the time and stress it saves – and Adobe's PDF software will probably be useful too.

best e-signature software: DocuSign

(Image credit: Docusign)

02. DocuSign

The best e-signature software for medium to large businesses

Specifications
Developer: DocuSign
Payment model: Subscription
System: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Free trial?: 30 days
Reasons to buy
+Advanced feature+Works great at scale+Free version
Reasons to avoid
-Slight learning curve

Founded in 2003, DocuSign has a lot of experience in providing e-signature software and that shows. It's a highly professional option with a large user base and excellent integrations with enterprise software such as Salesforce and Workplace from Facebook. That makes it our top recommendation for medium to large businesses.

You can use DocuSign to sign a wide variety of documents, from contract to school permission slips. You can create documents for others to sign using the templates provided, and you can quickly add tags to make it obvious where people should sign and what they need to include. You can specify in which order people should sign for documents with multiple signatures, you can set deadlines and reminders, and you can add signature fields to existing documents as well as websites and apps.

This all makes DocuSign a feature-packed e-signature software solution that works seamlessly at scale. It is pretty expensive when you get into the pricing plans aimed at businesses and multiple users. There is a limited free version if you only need to sign documents yourself (up to three per month) and don't need others to do so.

best e-signature software: Signature

(Image credit: HelloSign)

03. Hello Sign

The best e-signature software for simplicity

Specifications
Developer: Dropbox
Payment model: Free or subscription
System: Browser, iOS, Android
Free trial?: 30 days
Reasons to buy
+Smooth integrations +Easy interface +Free version 
Reasons to avoid
-No phone support

You've probably heard of Dropbox, one of the best cloud storage providers. Well, Hello Sign is the company's e-signature solution and it's beautifully integrated with the cloud. As well as playing nicely with Dropbox (as you'd expect), it also works beautifully with Google Drive, Box, Evernote, and OneDrive.

You might want to start with the free plan to get a feel for it. That gives you just three signature requests per month and lacks some of the pro features of the paid plans, such as data validation, template links and multiple languages. But for anyone bootstrapping a new business or freelance operation, it's a useful service at no cost.

The paid version is also fairly affordable, making a good choice for freelancers and small businesses. Admittedly, the templates are quite basic, and it's not the most feature-rich tool – there aren't as many software integrations as with Adobe Sign and DocSign. However, the benefit of that simplicity is that the interface is very clean and easy to use.

Variety of people using phones and tablets

(Image credit: SignNow)

04. SignNow

The best e-signature software for teams

Specifications
Developer: SignNow
Payment model: Subscription
System: Browser, iOS, Android
Free trial?: 7 days
Reasons to buy
+Team focus +Browser-based +Good mobile apps 
Reasons to avoid
-Fewer integrations with other tools

If you run a team and want e-signature software that everyone can without blowing your budget, it's well worth taking a look at SignNow. Its pricing per user is more transparent than many of its rivals, and if you pay annually, it's very competitive when it comes to multiple user licences and could save you a lot over time.

SignNow is geared towards collaborative use, allowing you to create teams within the software in order to securely share and collaborate on documents with stakeholders and colleagues. The software makes it simple to keep team members up to date with instant notifications. Tracking the status of your documents is straightforward, and there's 24/7 support in case you run into any problems.

Promo for E-signatures.io

(Image credit: E-signatures.io)

05. Esignatures.io

The best e-signature software that's pay-as-you-go

Specifications
Developer: Esignatures.io
Payment model: Pay per document
System: Browser
Free trial?: No
Reasons to buy
+Subscription-free +Potential for big savings +Good for bulk sending
Reasons to avoid
-No free version

Every business and freelancer's workflow – and cashflow – is different. Many people might not want to commit to a monthly subscription, which is what most of the best e-signature software offers. But Esignatures.io allows you to pay only for what you use.

It isn't the best option for sending one-off documents or even regular documents, but it is very good if you send out batches of contracts on a fairly irregular basis and need them signed all at once. Handy options include creating bespoke contracts from templates, uploading Excel spreadsheets of recipients, and bulk sending to multiple people. Other features include sending contracts directly to mobiles via SMS, connecting with thousands of apps like Salesforce and Dropbox via Zapier, and using placeholders to highlight the text you'd like to replace in new contracts.

Graphic of pen on notepad

(Image credit: Keep Solid)

06. KeepSolid Sign

The best e-signature software for security features

Specifications
Developer: KeepSolid Inc
Payment model: Team licence
System: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, browser
Free trial?: 14 days
Reasons to buy
+Strong security features +Offline mode +Team options 
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

KeepSolid is a company that specialises in security and encryption, so you'd expect their e-signature software to be pretty darn secure, and it is. With advanced peer-to-peer architecture, all the data stored and transmitted through the app is protected by high-grade AES-256 encryption and can only be decrypted by an authorised recipient's device. In other words, no third party would be able to read your files even if they fall into the wrong hands.

In broader terms, this is excellent e-signature software too. The template system enables you to create documents quickly and easily, while strong annotation, collaboration and tracking tools make it easy for colleagues and stakeholders to work together on documents. Also, the fact that the service is priced per team rather than per user could save you a lot of money if you're seeking multiple licences.

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design, photography and tech. He is author of Great TED Talks: Creativity, published by Pavilion Books. He has previously been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine.