Misc 6-Step Guide to Create Code Signing Certificates in Apple Developer Program

If you are a developer looking to publish an iOS app, it must be signed with a valid certificate from Apple to ensure authenticity. This involves public and private keys, certificates, and digital signatures.

Code Signing is an important process for developers to ensure the integrity and authenticity of software code. It involves digitally signing the application code enabling users to confirm the identity of the app publisher and guarantee its integrity.

Apple's norms on application publishing require you to code-sign the apps, or it will reject the submission. Therefore, Code Signing becomes crucial, and this article will focus on how developers can create Code Signing certificates in the Apple Developer Program and secure their apps.

What is a Code Signing certificate?

Code Signing certificates help developers ensure that the integrity of their application is intact and users can securely access the data. Further, it also allows users to verify whether the application they download and install on the device is legitimate and comes from a trusted source.

It works on the cryptographic encryption principle, where two sets of security key pairs ensure that the data exchanged between a browser and a server is secure. It establishes a secure connection and scrambles the data making it unreadable to the cyber attackers.

Further, a Code Signing certificate allows developers to sign digitally their applications, providing a seal of trust or a digital signature. Apple devices need to code sign your apps with certificates created by its developer program.

Keychain Access is vital in generating CSR and Code Signing certificates on Apple's Developer Portal. You need other components for the Code Signing process besides the Keychain Access.

Prerequisites for Code Signing iOS apps

Code Signing allows developers or organizations developing iOS applications to secure data users request to interact with the app. The Code Signing process for an iOS app requires the following components.

  • CSR (Certificate Signing Request)
  • Code Signing certificate
  • App ID
  • Provisioning profiles.

You need to submit CSR to the CA for a Code Signing certificate. App ID is a unique identifier for your application, and provisioning profiles combine Bundle ID, Device ID, App ID, and Entitlements.

In this article, we will discuss creating a Code Signing certificate on Apple's platform for developers. There are two important things for create certificates on Apple's Developer Portal,

  1. CSR file
  2. Apple Developer Program membership.

First, let us understand how to generate CSR for a Code Signing certificate on your macOS machine.

CSR generation process

The first step of creating a Code Signing certificate on Apple's Developer Portal is to generate a CSR on your local machine. Apple verifies the details verified the details you share through the Developer's identity and the identity of the developer per to assure users that the application is secure.

You can generate CSR on your local Mac machine using the following steps,

  1. Open the "Keychain Access" by searching it on your Mac.
  2. Click on the top menu bar and open it to find "Certificate Assistant," and select the "Request a Certificate From Certificate Authority" option.
  3. A new window will open where you need to add details like the email ID and name of the requestor. Keep the information of CA empty.
  4. Select saving CSR file on local disk and click on continue.
  5. Next, click on the "Show in Finder" option, which will allow you to locate the path to your CSR file on the local machine
  6. Click on done, and your CSR file is saved on the local machine.

Now you can submit this to Apple's Developer Portal to issue a Code Signing certificate.

Steps to create a Code Signing certificate on Apple's Developer Portal

Primarily, you need a membership in the Apple Developer Program to create a Code Signing certificate. You may need to pay $99 annually to join the membership program. Apple allows developers to generate two different types of certificates,

  1. Distribution Code Signing certificates are used for distributing the application.
  2. Development certificates can be used to develop applications internally.

Here, we will take an example of creating a distribution Code Signing certificate on the Apple Developer Portal for your business.

Step 1 Sign in to your Apple Developer Program account.

The first step to creating a Code Signing certificate is to sign in to your account. Access the Apple Developer Portal and sign in through Apple ID and password.

Step 2 Select the "Certificate, IDs & Profiles" option on the portal

Go to the main menu, access the three-dot icon on the top left-hand side of the portal, and select "Certificate, IDs, and profiles," This will open certificate option screen.

Step 3 Add the certificate.

In the "Certificates" option under "Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles," Click on the plus icon to add a certificate.

Step 4 Select the type of certificate you want to create

Click on the "iOS Distribution (App Store and Ad Hoc)" option

Step 5 Upload the CSR file.

Upload the CSR file from the local machine on the platform through the "Choose File" option under "Create a New Certificate."

Step 6 Download the certificate on your local machine

You can download the newly created distribution Code Signing certificate from Apple Developer Portal and save it on local storage.

Further, double-click on the downloaded certificate and add it to your "Keychain Access" on the local device. Now you can export the certificate from "Keychain Access." Right-click on the Keychain and select "Export." When you export the downloaded certificate, it will ask for a password generated in the initial stages of CSR generation.


As cybersecurity threats increase, it becomes paramount to secure your applications, especially when Apple is stringent on its app publication guidelines. So, if you want to publish apps on Apple's platforms, code-signing apps with a certificate from Apple Developer Portal becomes crucial.

Here, we have discussed a systematic process of creating a Code Signing certificate using Apple's Developer Program. However, steps can vary if you are creating a development certificate for internal use.