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Export or Back Up Your MIT Personal Certificates

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There are a couple of reasons to export or back up your personal certificates:

  • If you send or receive email which has been signed or encrypted with your personal certificate (S/MIME), you will need to keep that certificate on your system even after it expires, in order to validate and read the email.
    • Not sure if you're using S/MIME? [Learn more]
    • If you experience any difficulty accessing certificate-protected MIT websites, you can export your certificates from your browser to a backup file, then delete them from your browser, before you get new certificates

Firefox on Macintosh, Windows, Athena, Linux

  1. Launch Firefox.
  2. Do the following, according to your platform:
    • Macintosh: Firefox > Preferences > Advanced > Encryption > View Certificates > Your Certificates.
    • Windows: Tools > Options > Advanced > Encryption > View Certificates > Your Certificates
    • Athena, Linux: Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Encryption > View Certificates > Your Certificates
  3. Select the certificate to back up.
  4. Click Backup (or Backup All to select all certificates).
  5. When prompted, enter a filename and specify a location for the backed up certificates.
  6. Click Save.
  7. When prompted, enter the master password used to protect your certificates.
  8. Click OK.
  9. When prompted, create and enter a Certificate backup password. Enter it again to confirm.
  10. Click OK.
    Note: Backed up certificates contain personal information and should be protected with a password. It should be different from your Kerberos password. The password quality meter will indicate the strength of the password entered; the higher the strength, the more secure the password.
  11. In the Alert showing successful back up, click OK.
  12. You can now delete the expired certificates

Internet Explorer on Windows

  1. Launch IE
  2. Go to Tools > Internet Options > Content
  3. Click the Certificates button and then the Personal tab.
  4. Select the certificate to export.
  5. Click Export
  6. In the Certificate Export Wizard, click Next.
  7. In the Export Private Key dialog, click Next.
  8. In the Export File Format dialog, accept the default, "DER encoded binary".
  9. Click Next.
    Note: For details on exporting a private key, if that option is available, and on certificate file formats, see "Export a certificate" in Windows Help and Support.
  10. In the File to Export dialog, click Browse.
  11. In the Save As dialog, specify a location for the exported file and enter a file name.
  12. Click Save, then Next, then Finish.
    Result: A message appears confirming that export was successful.
  13. You can now delete the expired certificates

Mac OS X Using Keychain Access

  1. Launch Keychain Access: Macintosh HD / Applications / Utilities / Keychain Acess.app
  2. Under Category (left-hand panel), click My Certificates.
    Result: Your personal certificates are listed.
  3. Select the certificate to export.
  4. From the File menu select Export Items
  5. In "Save As", enter a filename and specify a location for the exported certificates.
  6. Click Save.
  7. When prompted, enter and verify a password for exporting, then click OK. (If your Keychain is locked, you will be prompted to unlock it by entering your Mac account password.)
    Note: Exported certificates contain personal information and should be protected with a password. It should be different from your Kerberos password. The password quality meter will indicate the strength of the password entered; the higher the strength, the more secure the password.
  8. In the dailog box Keychain Access wants to export... enter your Macintosh account password (or keychain login password, if different), then click Allow.
    Result: The certificates you selected are exported from your Keychain into a file that is protected with the password entered in step 6. If this password is forgotten, you will not be able to open the exported certificates, or read email signed or encrypted under those certificates.
  9. You can now delete the expired certificates

Getting Help

Related Links

Certificates at MIT

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members


Last Modified:

February 25, 2016

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