Understanding When Smart Card Utility Must Be Opened

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Launching Smart Card Utility is unnecessary each time an iOS device is restarted or when authenticating with a CAC. Smart Card Utility registers an extension the first time it is opened after installation, and this extension is automatically started when a smart card authentication is requested. The Smart Card Utility extension runs in the background of your device and detects when Safari requests an Authentication Certificate. The Smart Card Utility extension will authenticate regardless of whether or not the app has been launched. This article will cover the most common reasons the app would need to be opened.

Initial Setup

The initial setup of the Smart Card Utility Reader is in the Getting Started Guide. The Getting Started Guide outlines downloading and setting up the app. It also provides a walk-through on how to insert the 9a Authentication Certificate into Smart Card Utility. Once this process has been completed, most people do not need to return to the app.

CAC PIN changing and verification

The most common reason to reopen Smart Card Utility is to verify or change the PIN for a CAC. After connecting to your reader with Smart Card Utility, the certificate screen will be shown. The certificate page has an option in the upper left corner to change or verify your PIN. Click here to read more about PIN Verifying and Changing.


Opening Smart Card Utility can be helpful when troubleshooting an issue. The settings in Smart Card Utility can be confirmed in the app. You can also verify that Smart Card Utility is detecting their reader and that the correct certificate (usually the 9a Authentication Certificate) is still inserted.

Using Multiple iOS Devices with the Smart Card Utility Bluetooth Reader

The Smart Card Utility Bluetooth Reader can be used with multiple iOS devices but not simultaneously. If a reader set up in Smart Card Utility is still close to the reader, the iOS device may connect to the reader and prevent other iOS devices from connecting. To resolve this, remove the 9a certificate from Smart Card Utility and only insert certificates in the Smart Card Utility app on the iOS device that is being used.

If you are using the Twocanoes Bluetooth Reader with PIN pairing, it may require a few extra steps to pair to an additional device. To read more about Bluetooth Reader with PIN pairing, please see Bluetooth Reader with PIN Pairing.