How to Digitally Sign an Email


For all its power as a communications medium, the Internet carries risks for the unsuspecting user. One way of assuring recipients that your emails will not harm the recipients' computers is to digitally sign them. By doing so, you'll also be able to send legally binding documents via email.

Things You'll Need

  • Certificate of Authority
  • Obtain a certificate of authenticity. This certificate, known as a digital signature, is an assurance that the email is from the sender named. You can buy a certificate from Microsoft, but free sources also exist. Commodo Group (see Resources) provides free certificates that are valid for one year. Follow the instructions for obtaining a certificate from whichever source you choose.

  • Open your email program. Under "Tools" in the main menu, select "Options."

  • Select the "Security" tab in the dialog box that opens. Under the heading "Digital IDs (Certificates)." Click the button labeled "Import/Export."

  • Enter the file location on your computer, or use the "Browse" button to find it. Then enter the password and digital ID name you selected when obtaining your certificate of authenticity. Click "OK."

  • Compose an email. When you have completed your message, click the button reading "Sign." If this button does not appear among those at the top of the window, select "Tools," followed by "Options" and then "Sign."

  • Look for a red ribbon to the right of the "To" field to indicate that your message is digitally signed. Click "Send."

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