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Importing and Exporting Certificates

Posted by Paul on September 26, 2012

In this article we can explore how to Import and Export Certificates from a Windows machine.  This knowledge would be necessary while dealing with Certificate enabled web applications.

What is a Certificate?

A certificate is a mechanism used to verify an identity on a computer.

What are the types of Certificate in Internet Explorer?

Internet Explorer uses 2 types of certificates.

1.      Personal Certificates to certify the person who use the application.  Personal Certificates are to be produced to web applications requesting personal identities.  This adds much more security in accessing the application.  A personal certificate is issued by a Certificate Authority (CA).


2.      Web Site Certificates to certify the web site is secured and genuine.  This allows websites to gain trust of users.  It is the user’s responsibility to verify whether the web site is secured before submitting information over it.

Here we are dealing with Personal Certificates.

What is the Tool to Import / Export Certificate?

The tool to import / export certificate is: Certificate Manager Tool


You can launch this tool using Run window > CERTMGR.MSC

How to Export a Certificate?

Now we can try exporting a certificate.  Open the Tool and select the certificate you wanted to export.  You can locate a certificate by expanding the Certificate Group from the left pane.


Now right click on the certificate and choose All Tasks > Export as shown below:


A wizard should appear as shown below:


Click the Next button to continue.  You will be prompted with a File Format page as shown:


Select the default format for now and click the Next button to continue.  You will be prompted to enter the file name for the certificate.   The certificate file extension is .cer


Enter a file name as shown above and click the Next button to continue.


The above page summarizes the information and clicks the Finish button to complete the Export.  You can see the certificate exported in the file system.


How to Import a Certificate?

Now we can try importing a Certificate.  We can use the Certificate file exported in the previous step for import purpose.

Now you can proceed to the destination machine where the certificate has to be imported.  Copy the .cert file generated in previous step to the destination machine.

Run CERTMGR.MSC in the destination machine.


Select your Certificate category from the left pane and right click on it to get the context menu.

Choose the option All Tasks > Import as shown above. In the appearing wizard click Next button and choose the certificate file from the folder.


Click the Next button to continue.



Click the Next button to continue..

Click the Finish button and you should see the Certificate being imported and listed.


How to Delete a Certificate?

You can delete a certificate by choosing the certificate and selecting Action > Delete from the menu bar.


So this concludes our article.  I hope you have learned how to:

·        What is a Certificate

·        Export a Certificate

·        Import a Certificate

·        Delete a Certificate



In this article we have seen how to Import and Export Certificates.  In real world scenario this information would be useful while dealing with certificate enabled applications.

Please note that Certificates use public key and private key encryption.  More information on this is provided in the References section.


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