Step 8: Authenticode Signature (UAC)

The application now contains an application manifest, which will be detected when the application launches. The executable can, however, be tampered with. To prevent this, you should sign the application with an Authenticode signature.


Windows Vista® will have the ability to prevent any unsigned application from launching with a full administrator access token. If you want your application to operate correctly in locked-down environments, while displaying a more user friendly user interface, it should be signed with an Authenticode signature.

To sign the application, you can either generate a certificate from makecert.exe or obtain a code-signing key from one of the commercial certification authorities (CAs), such as VeriSign, Thawte, or a Microsoft CA.


You will need a commercial certificate if you wish your application to be trusted on the target computer of a customer installing your application.

If you use the makecert.exe file to generate your signing key pair, be aware that it only generates a 1024-bit key. Authenticode signatures should have at least a 2048-bit key. The makecert.exe file should only be used for testing purposes.

The following procedure details the high level requirements for using makecert.exe to generate your signing key pair. An example and makecert.exe parameters follow this procedure.

To use makecert.exe to generate your signing key pair

  1. Generate the certificate.

  2. Sign the code.

  3. Install the test certificate.

Example Signing Procedure

The following procedures are provided as examples and are not intended to be strictly followed. For example, replace the test certificate's name with your certificate's name and ensure that you tailor the procedures to map to your specific CA and development environment.

Step 1: Generate the Certificate

makecert -r -pe -ss PrivateCertStore -n "" ContosoTest.cer
makecert.exe parameters




Create self-signed certificate


Makes the certificate's private key exportable to the signing machine.

/ss StoreName

The certificate store name that will store the test certificate. Example: PrivateCertStore

/n X500Name

The certificate subject's X500 name. Example:


Certificate name. Example: ContosoTest.cer

Step 2: Sign the Code

Important noteImportant

Applying a timestamp while signing your application will ensure that the application will continue to run after the validity period of the original certificate.

Signtool sign /v /s PrivateCertStore /n /t file.exe

Step 3: Install the Test Certificate

To install the test certificate

  1. Launch an elevated command window by right-clicking Command Prompt and selecting Run as administrator.

  2. In Command Prompt, type mmc.exe and press Enter.

  3. In the mmc, select File and then select Add/Remove Snap-in…

  4. In Add or Remove Snap-ins, select Certificates, click Add, and then click OK.

  5. In the Certificates snap-in dialog box, select Computer account and click Next.

  6. In Select Computer, select Local Computer, and then click OK.

  7. In Add or Remove Snap-ins, click OK.

  8. In the Certificates snap-in, and navigate to Trusted Root Certificate Authorities, right-click Certificates, select All Tasks, and then select Import…

  9. In the Certificate Import Wizard, import the test certificate, ContosoTest.cer.

For more information about Authenticode signatures, see the MSDN Web site, for example:

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