Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Transferring Preview app signatures in Lion

Lion introduced a great new feature that allows you to capture your signature via an attached camera and store it in an encrypted form for later use.  Therein lies the problem; you must have an attached camera.

I have a Mac Pro, and wanted to use the signatures I captured on my Macbook Pro.  Following these steps, you can transfer the encrypted signatures over.

On your machine endowed with the power of sight:

  1. Go ahead and capture the signatures in Preview.
  2. Quit Preview
  3. Browse to ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences
    • In Finder, click the Go menu and hold the option (⌥) key to show the Library folder, alternatively
    • press ⌘+⇧+G whilst Finder is active and enter the path above to directly navigate
  4. Copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist
  5. Launch Keychain Access
  6. Ensure the login keychain is selected and the Passwords category
    Copying Preview signatures password from keychain
  7. Right-click the Preview Signature Privacy password and select Copy Password to Clipboard.  This is the password used to encrypt the signature images.
  8. Paste it into a text editor and save the file.  You'll need to transfer this to your other computer(s)

On your machine you wish to transfer the signatures to:

  1. If you haven't already, launch Preview, open preferences, and select the Signatures tab to ensure the default configuration files and folders have been created.  Exit Preview.
  2. Browse to ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data/Library/Preferences
  3. Copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist to the folder, overwriting any existing file
  4. Launch Keychain Access
  5. Locate the Preview Signature Privacy password in the login keychain and double click to edit
    Replace the Preview Signature Password
  6. Click the Show password checkbox and paste the password you copied from your original machine.
  7. Click Save Changes and you're done

 

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to use a saved image (e.g. scan) as a signature without access to a computer with a camera?

Dr. Wo said...

Thanks very much! Very helpful and easy to follow.

Anonymous said...

Aussie Bloke, thanks very much for this. I'm having one problem. On my camera-less mac to which I'm trying to import the signature, the keychain access has no file called Preview Signature Privacy. Any idea how to get that file to show up so I can complete this action?

Thanks much.

JM

Stuart said...

Try launching Preview, open preferences, and select the Signatures tab to see if that generates the key. Let me know if that helps.

Anonymous said...

Stuart, that worked. So simple, I should have thought of it. Anyway, thanks for posting this and thanks for the speedy reply. Really glad to have this function on my Mac Mini. Greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I like your post on how to transfer Preview Signatures to a non-camera Mac. Only one problem - I don't have the path you instructed to follow??? I have browsed for the Library/Containers/com.apple.Preview/Data with no luck???

Any ideas?

Stuart said...

I'll update the article, but for now you should be able to launch Preview, open preferences, and select the Signatures tab. That should generate all the necessary metadata and folders.

Anonymous said...

VERY helpful! Thanks very much for posting.

Anonymous said...

Just did this successfully but noticed two things have changed ( I am using OSX Lion 10.7.1).

1 - by default the user library folder is hidden. To access it hit Command+Shift+G from the Mac desktop (or Finder > Go > Go to Folder) and type in ~/Library

2 - there are two files now in the Preferences folder "com.apple.Preview.plist" and "com.apple.Preview.plist.lockfile" - I found you need to copy both to the destination machine for the file to show up in Keychain.

But with these changes it worked fine. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is VERY detailed and easy to follow - thanks so much!

I only hesitated through steps #3 and #5, both in the second section (referring to the camera-less Mac).

#3 - "Copy the com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist to the folder, overwriting any existing file" - I do not think a plist exists unless you have signatures in your mac (which I guess could happen with a migration from another computer) but I got a little nervous because it was not 'over-writing' an existing file.

#5 - "Locate the Preview Signature Privacy password in the login keychain and double click to edit" - This was answered here in the question/answer section, which unfortunately, I read after! But yes, I found it to be true that the Preview Signature Privacy in Keychain Access is populated after you open preview.

Thanks so much for sharing - it was a great help and success!

Stuart said...

You're welcome! I've been meaning to update the article; if you launch Preview, then Preferences and switch to Signatures tab, it should generate those missing files.

David Sanger said...

Stuart, that did not work the first time I tried it, but then I copied both the plist and the plist.lockfile , then reopened and reclosed Preview.

After that the Preview Signature Privacy showed up in the Keychain.

Anonymous said...

And thank you! From my MbP to my Mini it worked. PS, hey from Brisbane.

Anonymous said...

Worked great. Thanks from Berkeley, California!

Anonymous said...

Aloha.

Anonymous said...

That worked... thanks. For those who are having problems, I found I had to Quit and restart Preview at the final step for the Keychain to fully update, and then for the "unable to decrypt" message in Preview to change to the signature.

Well written instructions, though I suspect Apple has tucked a few extra steps since it was written by the Aussie Bloke.

Unknown said...

Just a THANK YOU :)

Anonymous said...

It worked for me also. Thanks a bunch!

Anonymous said...

It worked for me too. Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Just what I was looking for to get the signature from my iMac to the Macbook. Worked perfect Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hey Stuart:
Thank you for sharing this very clever and easy-to-follow solution to a very cryptic problem!
Thanks from Washington DC!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Appreciate the tip!

Anonymous said...

Many Thanks! This worked like a charm. One step I encountered which wasn't mentioned is that I had to restart Preview and Allow Keychain Access upon restart.

dTheory said...

works like a charm... I'd forgotten how to get this done, thanks!

Anonymous said...

worked perfectly for me - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Still works in Mountain Lion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the excellent instructions! Worked in Mavericks.

Anonymous said...

Excellent thank you, appreciated!

Anonymous said...

I maintain two user accounts (one work, one personal) and the instructions didn't work initially. Then I figured out that I had to change the Permissions on the signature.plist file that I copied to the second account. After that, worked a treat! Thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Aussie Bloke! Worked like a charm on my mini with Mavericks.

Brett Harris said...

Thank you - easy to follow.
Job Done!

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Many thanks aussie bloke!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! Great walk-thru!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this also works on Mavericks. When I first opened Keychain access I didn't have an entry for Preview Signature Privacy on the machine I was transfering to. I would like to add that in between steps 3 & 4, quitting preview and restarting and going to signatures.
It would seem that preview needed com.apple.Preview.signatures.plist before it generated the keychain.
I would be dubious about copying plist.lockfile from machine to machine, I also found it unnescessary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for the detailed instructions. This worked fine. You're a lifesaver!