How to Use a Smart Card for Secure E-Mail and Digital Signatures

Secure Email Icon

Before you can receive encrypted e-mail or send digitally signed e-mail, you must first configure Outlook or other e-mail application to use your smart card's digital certificates. Publishing your certificates to the NIH Global Address List (GAL) simplifies the exchange of encrypted e-mail within NIH.


Setting Up E-mail Applications to Use Your Digital Certificates

Email Web Access (EWA)


Windows computers will automatically configure Outlook to use your new digital certificates when you insert your smart card into the reader. However, you may still need to publish your certificate to the GAL.


Reading Old Encrypted Email

If you are unable to read old encrypted email, you need to obtain copies of your prior email encryption digital certificates and associated private keys.  You can obtain these items from the HHSIdentity PIV Portal.  Please see the instructions for recovering and installing encryption certificates for more information.

If you are having problems with sending encrypted email please see Solving Outlook Encryption Problems.


Adobe Acrobat

See Configure Adobe Acrobat / Reader for use with HHS ID Badge Certificates
(for both Windows OS and Mac OS computers)

Note:  Starting with Mac OS 10.11.6, you may get an error when you try to digitally sign Adobe documents. See knowledge base article for more information/solution for this issue.


Information and Assistance

For additional information, search the NIH IT Knowledge Base for tutorials, instruction sheets and user guides or refer to the appropriate How-To Guide.

For questions or user support, please contact the NIH IT Service Desk.