A digital signature is an encrypted electronic signature that can guarantee the origin of an electronic document, its integrity, and its authenticity. When you manually sign a document, you guarantee your agreement to the text content. A digital signature does the same thing and adds even more information. It guarantees signature authenticity by proving that you are the person who signed, it ensures document integrity, meaning that it has not been modified since the signature, and also confirms that the sustainability of the document, ensuring its validity for years to come.
An electronic signature consists of blocks of information that identify you. A digital signature is a form of electronic signature that is more secure because it is encrypted and can be invisible. It protects many elements of your documents.
CertifiO Suite for Windows includes ConsignO Desktop, Entrust ESP (EESP) and CertifiO Manager.
For macOS, only ConsignO Desktop is included.
EESP is incompatible with ARM-based processors
(ex.: certain Microsoft Surface models). More details here.
ConsignO Desktop is specifically designed to digitally sign PDF documents with ease and speed, one at a time or several at the once, or add your signature to documents signed by others, in just a few clicks. You can also convert a batch of PDF documents in PDF/A, apply templates to your documents or quickly apply stamps in several places of a document.
Digitally signing a document enables the recipient to view the sender’s digital signature certificate. This feature links the signer to the document in a way that is irrefutable and confirms the signer’s identity and professional status. It is applying one’s official signature, digitally, on a document.
ConsignO, makes it possible to digitally sign a document and send it to a client via email while preserving its authenticity.
ConsignO’s main window is laid out with different sections and functions.
|Opened Document Tab
|This section displays a tab per open document. It allows you to switch from one open document to the other by selecting the appropriate tab. You can close an open document by right-clicking on a tab and selecting Close or by clicking the “X” on the document’s tab. Right-clicking gives you three options: close the selected document, close all documents but the selected one, or close all documents.
|This section contains the ConsignO window’s main functions:
|Main view tool bar
|This section shows buttons that give access to document functionalities. It gives quick access to stamping and signature appearance functions. It also allows to navigate through the document pages and to modify the view (zoom) of the document. These buttons apply to the active document.
|My Computer view
|This section is a tree view of your computer file structure, as you would see it in a Windows explorer. There is also a toolbar available in this view. Small icons give access to reveal functions (PDF/A, signed documents and portfolios). You can also apply a template and start the signing process from that toolbar. These functions will apply to the selected document or folder.
|This section is a tree view of the templates documents. You can apply the template selected in this view by dragging and dropping it onto the open document in the document view.
|Signature Validation tab
|This section has two tabs that allow you to toggle the view between the document and the digital signature information of the document. These tabs apply to the selected document.
Note: You can minimize either the Templates or My Computer views and it will appear as a small icon on the left side of the main window. You can restore the regular view by clicking on the minimized icon.
A right-click in the My Computer view or the Templates view brings a pop-up window allowing shortcuts to different ConsignO functions: Right-clicking from the My Computer view allows the following functions:
Right-clicking from the Templates view allows the following functions:
All functions are detailed in this User guide.
You can manage your documents within the application. Many possibilities are available.
To speed up and simplify common tasks, you can use some of ConsignO’s functions directly from your desktop. In just two mouse clicks, you can select your files from your Windows file browser and execute a function of ConsignO, such as converting to PDF/A or signing. The file selection is also memorized, allowing you to chain many functions without having to reselect your files. You can for example, convert your files to the PDF/A format, apply a template, stamp and then sign your file, using only a few mouse clicks.
Preferences allow you to predefine formats, behaviours and file locations that are often used, like Signature Appearances and Dates formats. It promotes a standard usage of the software among users and prevents from having to recreate the same formats every time they are used.
The Preferences window appears.
The left panel shows the type of preferences available. The right panel allows to edit the selected preferences. In the top right of the window, the navigation arrows allow you to navigate between types of preferences, while the drop down arrows allows you to modify the relative width of the panels.
Your preferences are now set.
General preferences allow you to specify if you want to have your previously opened documents reopened automatically when you launch ConsignO.
Your General preferences are now configured. You can always go back to factory settings by clicking Restore Defaults.
From the Signature Appearance preferences page, you can manage your different Signature Appearances. You can delete the ones you do not use, modify them or you can create new ones by opening the Signature Appearance Wizard.
You now have your list of available Signature Appearances.
Stamping preferences allows you to specify whether or not you want to have the warning about stamping being different than signing displayed after every time you stamp a document.
SHA (Secure Hashing Algorithm) is a cryptographic hash, which is like a signature for a text or datafile. Hashes are convenient for situations where computers may want to identify, compare, or otherwise run calculations against files and strings of data. It is easier for the computer to first compute a hash and then compare the values than it would be to compare the original files.
SHA 1 and SHA 256 are two different algorithms, SHA 256 being more recent and more secure than its predecessor. This is the recommended option.
Your hashing preferences are now configured.
It is possible to set the date format that will appear on your signature appearance at the moment of digitally signing, but you can also set a format for all Signature Appearances that have this option enabled. A list of possible formats is provided but it is also possible to add personalized date formats. (See Signature Appearances)
The character sequences can be separated by different symbols. A preview example is provided below the entry field. An error message appears if the format is invalid.
Your Date formats preferences are now configured.
Templates preferences allow you to specify the file location where you want your templates stored. The templates are saved as XML files that can be shared with other users by copying these XML files in the defined location.
Your Templates preferences are now configured.
When you apply a digital signature to a document, you can specify a reason to provide more details about what was done to the document. For example, you may want to specify that the document was revised, that it was approved or that it is complete. The reason will be visible in the Signature Appearance if that option is enabled.
You can now see the reason associated to a signed document with the digital certificate information of the digital signature.
You can predefine Signature Zones sizes to standardize them across document types. The minimum size possible is 0.1 inch by 0.1 inch.
The right panel contains a list of predefined Signature Zone sizes. You can use multiple sizes for different types of Signature Appearances.
You now have a predefined Signature Zone sizes available when signing a document.
Each time you change the placement or the size of a visual element, ConsignO Desktop persists automatically its new layout. By clicking the Restore Defaults button, all parts of ConsignO Desktop, like windows and tabs, will get back to their original state. This can help restore a window that is no longer shown.
There is an important difference between applying stamps in a document and applying a signature. Every time you apply a stamp, you insert an image (your signature appearance) which modifies the content of your document without adding the protection a digital signature would do. For this reason, you cannot stamp a digitally signed document as the stamp would compromise the integrity of the previous signature.
Stamping is often used to initial each page of a multi-page document. Although you can only apply stamps one document at the time, you can stamp multiple pages on that document at once.
If multiple signers need to stamp, be sure that everybody stamp BEFORE any digital signature is applied. If a digital signature is applied, the stamp feature will be greyed out.
You must digitally sign your document after stamping.
If this is your first time stamping a document and/or you have not signed a document in the last 60 days, you will be required to:
You now have a stamped document ready to be signed or seen as such.
Please note that this solution only applies to subscribers of a CertifiO Desktop digital signature (hosted on .epf file). If you are looking for a solution for a CertifiO Cloud digital signature (hosted on Notarius' secure cloud), click on this page.
Signing a document embeds the information certified by your digital signature into the document, identifying you as the person who approves or takes responsibility for its content.
WARNING! Certifying a document creates many limitations. You need to know the entire document life cycle for all parties involved throughout the life of the document (which is often decades), and be confident that no additional signature will be needed by one party throughout this period.
You now have a signed or a certified document for your archives.
Applying a digital signature adds metadata on a document without modifying its content (thus without impacting its integrity). This is how multiple signatures can be applied to a document while preserving the document’s integrity.
A visible signature includes a metadata that holds a visible marker (signature appearance) when viewing the document, showing that it has been signed.
An invisible signature omits this visible marker.
Both types of signature ensure the integrity of the document. The digital certificate information can be seen with both types when validating a signature. A visible signature, however, can appear on physically printed documents (this can be useful if printed copies of documents are also used or archived).
You can choose to use visible or invisible signatures according to your company policy.
Signature Zones are locations on a page where the visible signature or stamp can be applied. It has dimensions (height and width) and a position on the page. It is visible on a document opened in ConsignO as a blue rectangle. The zone identifier or name is written inside the rectangle. You can define the signature zone size beforehand in the Preferences menu or you can draw it directly on the page (custom format).
You now have a Signature Zone ready to receive a Signature Appearance.
A digitally signed PDF will have the signer’s digital certificate embedded within. It is possible to view this information within ConsignO, even if the signature is invisible. You can also view which documents are signed in the My Computer view by revealing the signed documents.
When a document is already signed, a blue band appears at the top of the document indicating that the signature is valid.
You can now see who has signed the document, the digital certificate information associated to his or her digital signature, along with a detailed chain-of-trust analysis to attest the authenticity of the document.
A Signature Appearance is a visual representation of what will appear on your document when you stamp it or sign it with a visual signature. It is usually an image of your written signature or your seal, but it can be any image you want to display when signing a document. The Signature Appearance becomes the visible part of a visible signature.
It is strongly recommended to us a transparent signature appearance; ConsignO includes a signature appearance wizard to facilitate the process. The background, represented by a grey and white checker, will not overwrite what is on the document. It is possible to remove transparency and have a white background that covers what is underneath. See the following examples:
You can now use the new Signature Appearance to visibly sign your documents.
Connecting to the Notarius account via ConsignO Desktop is only intended to access your CertifiO Cloud digital signature. If you want to access your Notarius account please click here.
Using CertifiO Cloud with ConsignO Desktop requires being connected to My Notarius Account to use your digital signature
If you have multiple digital signatures available in your Signature Assistant, be sure to select the desired digital signature. The CertifiO Cloud digital signature can be found in the Certificate Identies from CertifiO Cloud section.
Using the CertifiO Cloud digital signature requires entering a second authentication factor. This authentication factor is normally a code sent to the mobile associated with your account that you must enter in the window below:
Once the code is confirmed, the signing session will typically allow you to sign around ten times before requesting new authentication.
You can batch sign more than 10 documents at a time. However, you will need to enter a second authentication factor for each batch of 10 documents.
Learn more about the PDF/A format : Click here.
Your file is now converted to PDF/A format.
The status window displays the verification result.
The icon appears beside the PDF/A documents among those selected.
Note that no compliance validation is performed with the reveal function; it simply looks up the PDF/A claim metadata in the document.
A convenient option of the PDF document format is the ability to attach files of any format, much like email attachments. This option does not limit the properties of the PDF document. In particular, the PDF document with attachments can :
Thus, if a document cannot be converted to PDF/A format or its format is not practical for digital signature, you can, with ConsignO Desktop, attach it to a PDF document that can be converted to PDF/A-3b format and digitally signed to guarantee the integrity of the attachments.
In ConsignO, a model helps to avoid the repetition of preparing the same type of documents. Each model contains a Signature Zone and its location on the document. Creating templates allows visual consistency across documents of the same type by ensuring that all signatures are located at the same place and are the same sizes. A template memorizes the page format on which it was created, preventing from applying it on a different type of document (i.e. a template for an A4 document cannot be applied on a Letter document). Even though it is possible to create different zones on different pages, it is often better to create only one-page templates to avoid errors when applying the template to the destination document.
Your templates are now available to be applied to your documents.
You have three main options:
You now have a document with a configured Signature Zone, ready to be signed or stamped.
The majority of ConsignO’s key functions can be done in batches : signing, applying templates, converting to PDF/A, validating the conformance to the PDF/A standard, etc. To work with documents in batches, you simply have to select all the documents you want to work with and then perform the desired function.
NOTE: These steps can also be simultaneously performed via the Combined Actions menu
In the Batch Signatures Wizard, the documents you are about to sign are listed at the top of the window. If the list is wrong, click Cancel and start over.
Continue signing process as you would do for a single document signature.
You can combine multiple PDF documents into one portfolio. Portfolios are similar to ZIP files and may contain both signed and unsigned documents. Each document of a portfolio can be printed separately. A portfolio may contain signed documents, but cannot itself be signed. Files in a ConsignO portfolio are ordered. The portfolio will carry a .pdf file extension, regardless which type of documents a newly created portfolio contains. Portfolios are identified by the icon in the My Computer view. Note that the files in a portfolio are ordered.
You now have your file portfolio.
You can merge several signed and/or unsigned documents into a single PDF (or PDF/A) document, which can then be authenticated with your digital signature. When merging signed documents, remember that the digital signatures originally present on the documents are deleted; only the Signature appearances remain in the merged document. It is necessary to authenticate the newly merged document. In other words, all signers of the original document must digitally sign the newly merged document to authenticate it.
Note that it is possible to merge only one document to remove its digital signature while keeping the Signature appearance intact. It is also possible to merge documents without signing the result by cancelling the last signature step. ConsignO will then invite you to save the unsigned document.
You will be warned about signature zone conflicts if there are any.
You now have a new merged document ready to be signed.
Having to perform multiple steps on a document can be inefficient. ConsignO provides the ability to launch a PDF/A conversion, apply a template and sign documents in a single step using the Combined Actions option. This option can be accessed by right-clicking in the file explorer or in the My Computer view in ConsignO Desktop. Combined actions can be applied to one or multiple PDF documents.
NOTE: If an action cannot be accomplished, the checkbox stays greyed out and a message explains the reason.
ConsignO Desktop can print using Adobe Acrobat Reader (default option), or by using its embedded printing functions. Printing using Adobe Acrobat Reader offers advanced printing options, and ConsignO will merge the selected documents beforehand if you select to print multiple documents in a single operation. Note that ConsignO does not integrate with the Standard and Pro versions of Adobe Acrobat.
Depending on your Professionnal Association, your Certificate Authority might be Centre de Certification du Québec, AC1 or Notarius Root Certificate Authority
PDF version available here : How to configure Adobe Acrobat to validate signatures