Certificates Magically Re-appearing in your keychain? Try this

Written by dermdaly on June 29th, 2012

We’ve had this ongoing issue on our Continuous Integration server which had us scratching our heads. It went like this:

  1. We create a certificate for our CI “Developer”
  2. We add him to the provisioning certificate
  3. The build is fine
  4. Some time later, we update the provisioning profile, and install this – We remove the old certificate from the key chain
  5. Each subsequent build, the old certificate magically re-appears in the key chain, and the code-signing fails as there are multiple matched certificates in the keychain

If you’ve seen this; here’s what I think is happening, and here’s how you work around it.

The certificate is embedded in the provisioning certificate. During the code signing process, a check is made to see if this is in the keychain; if it isn’t, the code signing process adds it to the keychain. Because the keychain has a matching private key, the certificate is now valid again, but cannot be used, as you now have 2 keys with the same identity in the keychain.

We tried deleting the older certificate time and time again, but the build process always brought it back. So frustrating. Also; there’s radars about this (example, and there’s questions on StackOverflow about it.

But here’s a little tip that helps; Note the certificate is put back into the keychain, but codesign will only work with a certificate where the private key is also in the keychain. The problem arises when the re-inserted certificate has its private key in the keychain.

So, next time this happens

  1. Locate the older, duplicate certificate
  2. Expand it
  3. Delete it’s private key

Now, even if you remove the certificate also, and even if your build re-instates the certificate, the private key will not be in the keychain, and so this older, duplicate certificate will not be used to sign your binary.

Yay. Go us.

Comments (16)

Clemens says:

thanks, your comment really helped

Benjamin says:

This makes so much sense and solved my problem, you saved me a day of googling and fixing!

david says:

It works!! thanks a lot!

Sean says:

Thanks a million – I hate these bloody time wasting xcode bugs!

Noam says:

Learn something new every day… Thanks man!

Gus says:

Awesome! I had been struggling for HOURS with this. great find!

Rob Gorman says:

Awesome. Your writeup is exactly what I was seeing. Your solution perfect. Only problem is that it took me an hour before I found your solution. Thanks

Marcin says:

This still didn’t fix it for me :-/ As long as there was at least one provisioning profile using the expired certificate XCode managed to bring it back to the keychain. What did it for me eventually was to remove every single provisioning profile using the expired certificate or editing and re-submitting them without any changes so that they were using the re-generated certificate. At this point the portal stopped referring to the expired/revoked certificate. On top of that I removed all the provisioning profiles as well from the organizer and hit “refresh” to sync again with the portal and voila: the old certificate was finally gone for good. Phew…

DKLA says:

That did the trick… thanks!! 🙂

Rafael says:

It does the trick.
Thanks for the tip.

Nigel Street says:

Worked for me, thanks for sharing. Go you, indeed.

Thomas says:



OMG. it totally worked. Thank you so much. I was trying to avoid having to redo the provisioning stuff to bypass this.

But it totally worked. YEAY

Priyanka says:

Thanks, it worked for me….

Sonny says:

YAY! Worked Perfectly!

[…] I just spent a fair amount of time struggling with this same issue. After all the attempts to fix it, I finally came to realize that it’s a bug in Xcode. This post gave me a clue to fix it: certificates magically re appearing in your keychain […]

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