How to Renew Your Apple Developers Certificate

Don't let an expired certificate slow you down

One of the aspects of developing iPad apps that can have a developer pulling their hair out is getting set up to do proper code signing for compiling apps and transferring them to the iPad for testing. As if doing it once isn't enough, eventually it comes time to renew the developer's certificate.

When Things Stop Working

Apple doesn't warn you when your certificate expires, so the first thing you are hit with is an error telling you that your iPad doesn't have a proper profile installed on it. This can throw you for a loop because the profile itself may not have expired, but if the certificate it is tied to is expired, the profile stops working.

Figuring out that it is the developer's certificate that expired is half the battle. The other half is properly getting a new one set up and attached to your profiles.

Renewing a Developer's Certificate for iPhone and iPad Development

Here are the steps you need to take to get everything working correctly again.

  1. Open the Keychain Access application on your Mac. It is located in Applications > Utilities.

    Delete any expired certificates as indicated by a red circle with an X in it. They are named "iPhone Developer: [name]" and "iPhone Distribution: [name]" or similar.

  2. In the Keychain Access menu, select Certificate Assistant > Request a Certificate from a Certificate Authority.

    Keychain Access app on a Mac
  3. Enter a valid email address and your name and choose Saved to disk from the options. Click Continue and save the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) file to your Mac.

    Certificate Assistant on a Mac
  4. Go to the Certificates section of the iOS Provisioning Portal to upload the CSR file and receive a valid certificate. After you upload it, wait a few minutes and refresh the screen for it to be issued. Hold off on downloading the certificate for now.

    You need to log in with your Apple ID and password and be an Apple Developer to access the provisioning screens.

  5. Choose the Distribution tab in the Certificates section and go through the same process to make sure you have a certificate to distribute apps as well. Again, hold off on downloading the certificate for now.

  6. Go to the Provisioning section of the iOS Provisioning Portal.

  7. Choose Edit and Modify for the profile you want to use to code sign your apps.

  8. In the Modify screen, make sure there is a checkmark next to your new certificate and submit the changes.

  9. Click the Distribution tab and go through the same process with your distribution profile. Hold off on downloading these profiles.

  10. Launch the iPhone Configuration Utility.

  11. Go to the Provisioning Profiles screen in the iPhone Configuration Utility and remove your current provisioning profile and your distribution profile even if they have not yet expired. You want to replace them with your new profiles attached to the new certificate.

    Now that you have your Mac's code-signing certificate and profiles deleted, you can start downloading the new versions.

  12. Go back to the Provisioning section and download both your provisioning profile and your distribution profile. When they are downloaded, double-click the files to install them in the configuration utility.

  13. Go back to the Certificates section and download the new certificates for development and distribution. Again, double-click the files to install them in the Keychain Access.

You should be ready to install test apps on your iPad again and submit them to the Apple App Store. A key part of these steps is cleaning up the old files to make sure Xcode or your third-party development platform does not confuse the old files with the new files. This avoids a major headache when troubleshooting issues with the process.