Windows – Signing a Windows EXE file

certificateexesignwindows

I have an EXE file that I should like to sign so that Windows will not warn the end user about an application from an "unknown publisher". I am not a Windows developer. The application in question is a screensaver generated from an application that generates screensaver applications. As such I have no influence on how the file is generated.

I've already found out that I will need a code signing certificate from a CA like Verisign or instantssl.com. What I don't understand is what I need to do (if at all possible) to sign my EXE file. What is a simple explanation?

Mel Green's answer took me further, but signtool wants me to specify what certificate to use in any case. Can I get a free code signing certificate somehow to test if this will work for me at all?

Also please specify which certificate kind is the correct one. Most sites only mention "code signing" and talk about signing applications that are actually compiled by the user. This is not the case for me.

Best Solution

You can try using Microsoft's Sign Tool

You download it as part of the Windows SDK for Windows Server 2008 and .NET 3.5. Once downloaded you can use it from the command line like so:

signtool sign /a MyFile.exe

This signs a single executable, using the "best certificate" available. (If you have no certificate, it will show a SignTool error message.)

Or you can try:

signtool signwizard

This will launch a wizard that will walk you through signing your application. (This option is not available after Windows SDK 7.0.)


If you'd like to get a hold of certificate that you can use to test your process of signing the executable you can use the .NET tool Makecert.

Certificate Creation Tool (Makecert.exe)

Once you've created your own certificate and have used it to sign your executable, you'll need to manually add it as a Trusted Root CA for your machine in order for UAC to tell the user running it that it's from a trusted source. Important. Installing a certificate as ROOT CA will endanger your users privacy. Look what happened with DELL. You can find more information for accomplishing this both in code and through Windows in:

Hopefully that provides some more information for anyone attempting to do this!