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Be aware: This project is no longer maintained. Have a look at Simple Java Mail if you're interested in a successor project.

A S/MIME library for JavaMail

This is a simple to use library to use S/MIME features in conjunction with JavaMail.


This library allows you to

  • sign MIME Messages according to the S/MIME standard,
  • encrypt MIME Messages according to the S/MIME standard,
  • check, whether a MIME Message is encrypted or signed according to the S/MIME standard,
  • check, whether the signature of a MIME message that is signed according to the S/MIME standard is valid or
  • decrypt a MIME message that is encrypted according to the S/MIME standard.

This library is hosted in the Maven Central Repository. You can use it with the following coordinates:


Consult the usage description and Javadoc for further information.

Origin and state

The initial version of this library is based on the S/MIME specific parts of a project called JavaMail-Crypto API which relies on the Java version of The Legion of the Bouncy Castle as a provider of all sorts of cryptography witchcraft.
The JavaMail-Crypto API itself seems to be heavily influenced by the example code from the Bouncy Castle project.

We've decided to provide this library as an alternative for the S/MIME specific functionality of the JavaMail-Crypto API since the original project appears to be unmaintained since June of 2006 and is in fact incompatible with more current versions of Bouncy Castle (Some methods were deprecated for years and are now completely removed).
It is currently not our intention to provide a corresponding modernization of the PGP specific functionality.

The project page of the JavaMail-Crypto API states that it is currently in an alpha state. However, we never had any major issues while we were using it in a production environment. Fixes to minor issues have been incorporated in this library.

We used the original - and now this - library mainly to sign and encrypt system generated messages. None of the major mail clients that actually have S/MIME support (Thunderbird, Mail for Mac & iOS, etc.) had any problems to decrypt or check the signatures of these messages.

This library has roughly the same range of functionality regarding S/MIME as the original library. This may not be every aspect of the current RFC, but we're trying to improve this library when necessary. A further goal of this library is to provide an API that is as simple as possible to use.


An application that wants to encrypt a S/MIME message has to provide a S/MIME certificate in form of a standard X509Certificate. This library imposes no obstacles on how the certificate object is obtained.

An application that wants to sign or decrypt a S/MIME message has to provide a standard PrivateKey and the X509Certificate chain for the S/MIME certificate, but the preferred way is to provide these as a PKCS12 keystore.

Some CAs provide S/MIME certificates free of charge (i.E. COMODO). In most cases, a private key is created by the browser that is used to apply for the certificate, i.e. by using the keygen tag, and after validation, i.e. opening a confirmation link send via email, the corresponding certificate is installed into the browsers certificate store. The private key and the certificate, including the certificate chain, can then be exported as a PKCS12 keystore. The alias given to the private key inside the keystore is usually neither guessable nor very sensible, but you can use the keytool to find it out.

keytool -list -storetype pkcs12 -keystore smime.p12

For a PKCS12 keystore called smime.p12 this yields a output like

Keystore type: PKCS12
Keystore provider: SunJSSE

Your keystore contains 1 entry

's comodo ca limited id, Oct 8, 2015, PrivateKeyEntry, 
Certificate fingerprint (SHA1): F1:A9:99:CC:35:CA:3E:C7:D3:01:EC:95:14:D7:C0:32:1C:AF:50:CF

where 's comodo ca limited id is the given alias. It can be changed like this:

keytool -changealias -alias "'s comodo ca limited id" -destalias "alias" -storetype pkcs12 -keystore smime.p12

The public certificate can be exported into a PEM encoded file like this:

keytool -export -alias "alias" -storetype pkcs12 -keystore smime.p12 -rfc -file certificate.pem


First things first: The BouncyCastleProvider has to be added as a JCE provider somewhere in your application before this library can be used:

Security.addProvider(new BouncyCastleProvider());

Importing the S/MIME certificate ...

Depending on what you want to do with this library you must import the private key and certificate chain as a SmimeKey or import the public certificate as a X509certificate.

... to sign or decrypt a message

While SmimeKey has a public constructor it is recommended to use a SmimeKeyStore, which is a thin wrapper around a PKCS12 keystore and can be created and used like this:

SmimeKeyStore smimeKeyStore = new SmimeKeyStore(pkcs12Stream, storePass);
SmimeKey smimeKey = smimeKeyStore.getPrivateKey("alias", keyPass);

To create a SmimeKeyStore you have to provide an InputStream that yields the PKCS12 keystore (most likely a FileInputStream) and the store password as a char[]. By default, the char[] will be overwritten after is has been used. This behaviour can be turned off with the optional third parameter.

To obtain a SmimeKey from the SmimeKeyStore you have to provide the alias of the private key entry and the password to decrypt the private key. Again, as a char[] that will be overwritten by default.

... to encrypt a message

There are many ways to import a X509certificate. One possibility is the following where you have to provide an InputStream that yields the PEM encoded certificate:

CertificateFactory factory = CertificateFactory.getInstance("X.509", "BC");
X509Certificate certificate = (X509Certificate) factory.generateCertificate(pemStream);

Using the library as a sender ...

While is is in theory possible to sign and encrypt a message in any order and even multiple times, this is not recommended in reality because even the common mail clients don't support such usages of S/MIME very well.

So far, we haven't encountered any problems with the following usages:

  • Signing only
  • Encrypting only
  • Fist signing, than encrypting

We will assume that you already know how to create a SMTP Session and how create and send a MIME Message with JavaMail, but here is a minimal example how one could send a simple message:

public void sendMail(Session session, String from, String to, String subject, String content) throws Exception {
	MimeMessage message = new MimeMessage(session);
	message.setFrom(new InternetAddress(from));
	message.setRecipient(RecipientType.TO, new InternetAddress(to));
	message.setContent(content, "text/plain; charset=utf-8");
	MimeMessage encryptedSignedMessage = encryptMessage(session, signMessage(session, message, from), to);

.. to sign a message

Just use the SmimeUtil with the MimeMessage to be signed and the SmimeKey to sign it with:

private MimeMessage signMessage(Session session, MimeMessage message, String from) throws Exception {
	SmimeKey smimeKey = getSmimeKeyForSender(from);
	return SmimeUtil.sign(session, message, smimeKey);

.. to encrypt a message

Just use the SmimeUtil with the MimeMessage to be encrypted and the X509certificate to encrypt it with:

private MimeMessage encryptMessage(Session session, MimeMessage message, String to) throws Exception {
	X509Certificate certificate = getCertificateForRecipient(to);
	return SmimeUtil.encrypt(session, message, certificate);

Using the library as a receiver

We will assume that you already know how to create a POP or IMAP Session and how receive a MIME Message with JavaMail, but here is a minimal example how one could read messages:

Store store = session.getStore();
store.connect(host, port, user, password);
Folder inbox = store.getFolder("Inbox");;

for (int i = 1, n = inbox.getMessageCount(); i <= n; i++) {
	MimeMessage mimeMessage = (MimeMessage) inbox.getMessage(i);

You can then use the SmimeUtil check the messages content type and find out if it has a SmimeState of ENCRYPTED, SIGNED or NEITHER like this:

SmimeState smimeState = SmimeUtil.getStatus(mimePart);

If the messages S/MIME state is ENCRYPTED, you can use the SmimeUtil with the encrypted MimeMessage and the SmimeKey to decrypt like this:

MimeMessage decryptedMessage = SmimeUtil.decrypt(session, mimeMessage, getSmimeKey());

If the messages S/MIME state is SIGNED (the contains a MIME multipart with exactly two body parts: the signed content and the signature), you can use the SmimeUtil to check whether the signature is valid for the signed content and retrieve the signed content like this:

boolean validSignature = SmimeUtil.checkSignature(mimePart)
MimeBodyPart signedContent = SmimeUtil.getSignedContent(mimePart);

If the messages S/MIME state is NEITHER it just means that the message is neither S/MIME encrypted nor S/MIME signed. It may be encrypted or signed by some other means.


A S/MIME library for JavaMail








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