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Why You Need an Email Signature & How to Create One in Mac OS X

We’re all used to seeing digital signatures at the bottom of emails coming from corporations:


John Smith

President, XYZ Corporation

555-555-5555 | john@johnsmith.com | www.weburl.com



But it’s just as important for you, me, everyone to add a signature to our own, personal, emails. A signature could mean the difference between getting a job or having that job go to someone else. Someone possibly less qualified… but more digitally savvy. With the right knowledge, those 30 + emails you send out every day have the potential of bringing you that added income. 

And it’s really simple to do. Once someone has read your message and they glance down further, you’ll want to leave them with a quick synopsis of who you are. You may not be a president or a CEO but you’re a someone, and an important someone at that. So let them know who you are and what you do.

For example, you may be a freelance photographer who has just emailed your latest images to a few friends. We all forward emails we find interesting and you never know who your friends might resend to. Someone in their circle of friends might be looking for a photographer at that very moment. And once your email makes its way into that friend of a friend’s inbox with your contact information right at the bottom of the page you’ve suddenly made it very easy for a potential employer to find you, get in touch with you… and for you to secure a job.

The less someone has to do to find you, the better. A signature at the bottom of a page is much easier than having to email the source of the forwarded piece to get your particulars, which could even be wrong, leading to frustration, repeat emails and maybe ultimately giving up and going with someone else who’s easier to find. Don’t you think? In fact, the less steps someone has to take the better, as we all know how lazy people can be. 

OK, you got me, so how do I create one?

There is more than one way to add a digital signature to your emails and depending on the email carrier you use, more than one way to attach them. I’ll take you through a couple of the most common ones.

The Simple Version

Using the default on your Mac, let’s start with Mail. (Image 1) 

Choose Mail > Preferences, then click Signatures.  

In the left column, select the email account you want to use the signature for, then click the ‘Add button’ plus symbol (+). (Image 2) 

Images 1 and 2

Images 1 and 2

To create a text only signature, simply type the information you wish to have on it in the box to the right. (Image 3) For me, I wanted my name, my phone numbers and both of my web addresses, so that was what I typed in. As you can see, it comes in with the text in black and in your default typeface, but you can change that. 

Go up under the ‘Format’ pull down and select ‘Show Fonts’. (Image 4) Now highlight the information you just typed in, and then change the font. I wanted mine to be in italic, so I chose Helvetica Oblique. (Image 5 and 6) You may have to uncheck the ‘always match my default message font’ if you have that checked, or it won’t allow you to change the font.

Images 3, 4, 5 and 6

Images 3, 4, 6 and 6

I also wanted to change the color of my signature, so I once again went under ‘Formats’. This time, I clicked on ‘Show Colors’. (Image 7) I really wanted my signature to be in purple so I selected the eggplant color, and as you can see, it changes the color of the font. (Image 8)

Images 7 and 8

Images 7 and 8

A more complex signature 

You can also add a JPG in place of your name if you’d prefer a more elaborate signature. Here I’ve copied and pasted a JPG from my website directly into the signature creation box in place of the typed in name. (Image 9) Of course the colors don’t really work together so I think it’s best if we change them. I highlighted all again, went back up into ‘Formats’ and this time I chose the color ‘Maroon’ which matched my website logo (Image 10) and while I was at it, I changed the font to a lighter one so as not to compete with my JPG signature. (Image 11) 

Images 9, 10 and 11

Images 9, 10 and 11

What do I do next?

Now that you have your signature created, you need to be able to add it to your emails. To do this, simply use the pull down menu under the ‘Signature’ palette to select the signature you want to use. (Image 12) As you can see, there are also options there to use the signatures that you’ve created ‘At Random’ or ‘In Sequential Order’. Check one of these if you’ve made multiple signatures, a change of color perhaps, and want to rotate between them, either sequentially or at the whim of your computer.  

There is also a check box under the ‘Choose Signature’ pull down. Check this if you want your signature to appear when you reply or forward a message. 

Images 12

Images 12

These exact steps will also work for adding a digital signature to an Outlook email program. 

Browser Only? 

I know some people only use the web browser version of their email to send and receive. It’s just as simple to add a digital signature that way. Here’s Gmail, for example: 

In your browser, open Gmail.

At the top right, click the settings icon that looks like a cog. (Image 13) 

Image 13

Image 13

Select ‘Settings’.

Scroll down to the ‘Signature’ section and enter your new signature text in the box.

Format your text using the buttons above the text box.

At the bottom of the page, click ‘Save Changes’.

I hope you do try to add a digital signature, not only is it easy but you may be surprised at the results.

Learn more Mac OS X tips and tricks in these video courses at macProVideo.com


Elaine Ashburn

Elaine Ashburn | Articles by this author

Elaine Ashburn is an advertising creative director/art director. She's worked with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign since their inception. She also has a number of unpublished novels and short stories to her credit and enjoys writing as much as she does art directing. Her focus is to make these programs as easy for the layman as they can be by creating a 'simple steps' approach. Her goal is to have you using the programs to achieve your goal in a matter of minutes. Elaine's work can be viewed at elaineashburn.com and elaineashburnart.com.


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