How to flatten a signature in Adobe Acrobat

Filed under: Paperless | Tags: , |

You probably already know how to create and use an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat (if not, don’t worry it’s the first tip in Ernie Svenson’s video below). However, you may be wondering “how do I ‘flatten’ the signature image, so someone can’t simply lift my signature off a document.”

I figured that Adobe must have a way of doing this. It is the premier app for managing electronic documents in business after all. However, apparently not. Also, I could not find the answer by googling, either. After several dead ends, I was able to find the information. Everything you need is covered in Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. WARNING: this has worked fine for me (Adobe Acrobat Pro 9), but I make no warranty.

  1. Download the flatten.txt file from the blog. You need to click the link, either from here or the Adobe blog. This will take you to Adobe where you can download the file.
  2. Rename the extension to “.js”.
  3. Follow the instructions on the Adobe blog for installing the javascript file.

On a Mac, you paste the javascript file into the following directory (replace USERNAME with your username):

/Users/USERNAME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Acrobat/9.0_x86/JavaScripts

Of course, you cannot see the Library directory on OSX 10.7 Lion. So, you need to launch Terminal and type in the following. Thanks to OSXDaily for the tip!

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

To hide the Library when you are finished, type in the following in Terminal:

chflags hidden ~/Library

You then get a new option under the Documents pull-down menu to either “Flatten current page” or “Flatten all pages.”

Check out the full article with screenshots and instructions for Windows PC users at Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat. Also, watch the video on how to create a digital signature stamp in Acrobat and use the flatten command on Vimeo.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Viernest


  • Ken.Wiens@kgw-consultants.com

    In acrobat XI, where will i find the menu pick for the java script?

    • http://www.stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      With every new version, Acrobat changes the process (the instruction above are for X). I don’t see instructions for Acrobat XI yet. The person to ask is Rick Borstein at http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/

  • Penny

    I loaded the file as detailed. When I run the javascript from the menu, I receive the error “an internal error has occurred.” Enable Acrobat Javascript is turned on.