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When it comes to installing your new CAC reader onto your home computer, there’s a doubt that installing on Mac is much more complicated. Often, you’ll need to install a CAC Enabler just for your Mac to recognize the hardware. But don’t worry in this handy guide, we’ll walk you through how to install a CAC enabler for Mac and which one to choose.
Here’s the thing…. Mac has many different OS’s which means that there are many different CAC enablers. And some will work for particularly OS’s only.
Before you get started downloading and installing your CAC Enabler, there is some information that you need to be aware of:
In order to make sure that you download the right OS, be sure to use our handy Table of Contents to jump to the proper section.
And with that, let’s get your Mac system CAC Card ready!
If you’ve purchased a Mac with the Catalina OS installed, STOP RIGHT HERE.
Catalina comes pre-equipped with a built-in CAC Enabler. This means you do not need to install a third-party program. If you do, it may interfere with your built-in enabler and cause your CAC to not be recognized. Just be sure that you have the proper DOD certificates installed.
But what if you purchased your Mac and then upgraded to the new system?
If you haven’t installed any third-party enablers, the built-in function should automatically start working. But if you have previously installed any third-party CAC enablers, you’re going to have to uninstall and completely remove those first.
Similar to the Catalina OS, Mojave also has a built-in Smart Card Reader. This means that a third-party CAC enabler program may not be necessary. So before downloading any other enabler, test out the built-in first–just make sure you have the proper DOD certificates needed.
If your Mojave’s built-in reader is not working, then you can proceed to pick up another CAC enabler. There are 4 verified readers that work for Mojave that we know of.
Each of these should work for any type of CAC Card.
High Sierra is another Mac OS with a built-in Smart Card reader. However, unlike Mojave or Catalina, you cannot access CAC-protected sites through Safari. They are not supported through Safari in this OS.
You need to use Google Chrome for optimal results. If you are adamantly opposed to using Chrome, I’d recommend to go ahead and update your Mac OS to Mojave or Catalina (if supported). Afterwards, you should find you don’t need a CAC enabler as long as you have the proper certificates.
However, if things aren’t working out the way they should, you do have some options for third party CAC enablers.
These have been verified to work with High Sierra and with every CAC Card type we’ve come across.
Sierra is the last of the Mac OS’s that has a built-in Smart Card Reader. However, you need to be aware that this reader will not function with the Safari browser even with the proper certificates.
You’ll need to utilize Google Chrome along with the proper DOD (or other) certificates.
There have been reports of the Sierra built-in CAC reader failing to operate properly. And in that case, you’re going to need to download one of these verified CAC enablers:
These CAC Enablers work with every type of CAC Card.
One thing to note is that if you decide to utilize PKard with Sierra, you need to make sure that you’re using PKard version 1.7 or higher.
Unlike its newer OS counterparts, El Capitan does not come with a built-in smart card reader. You will be required to download and install a third-party program. Thankfully, there are 5 different CAC Enablers you can use.
One thing to note is that Smart Card Services will not work with all types of CAC Cards. If your CAC Card is designated as Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D, Smart Card Services cannot read it. You can find this information on the back of your CAC card itself near the magnetic strip.
This can be solved one of two ways. Either opt for a different enabler or get a new CAC Card.
Yosemite requires a third-party enabler to be installed in order for your CAC Card to be recognized. There are 5 different verified options for Yosemite users:
Although a verified option, we recommend against using Smart Card Services. The reason for this is that Smart Card Services doesn’t accept all types of CAC Cards–particularly those labeled Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D.
Mavericks is another Mac OS without a built-in Smart Card Reader. This means that you’re going to need to download a CAC Card Enabler. We’ve found five different platforms that work with this OS.
However, we suggest steering clear of Smart Card Services if you’re carrying the Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D CAC Card. This enabler does not recognize this particular type of CAC Card.
Since Mountain Lion OS has no built-in Smart Card Reader, you’ll have to avail of a third-party CAC Card Enabler. There are 5 different options to choose from for this platform.
However, if you’re using the CAC Card type, Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D, steer clear of Smart Card Services. They don’t recognize this type of card.
Lion is one of Mac’s older operating systems. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck if need to use a CAC card on it. There are 4 different options you have.
It’s worth mentioning that if you are planning on using Smart Cards Services, ensure you don’t have an Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D CAC Card. The program doesn’t work with the typing.
The first recommendation I have for Snow Leopard users is to upgrade their system as soon as possible. But if due to constraints you are unable to, there are still a few paths you can take when it comes to ensuring your CAC Card can be read.
Just don’t opt for Smart Card Services if you’re using an Oberthur ID One 128 v5.5a D CAC Card.
If you’re still using Leopard, our first recommendation is to upgrade your OS immediately. However if you’re unable to, there’s still hope for using a CAC Card on your computer.
Google apps for mac os x. Your available options for CAC Card Enabler are:
However, TENS will only work if your computer has an Intel processor. It won’t work if you’re using a PPC.
Again, the first recommendation for Leopard is not downloading a new CAC enabler but updating your system.
When it comes to which enablers we like best, it boils down to two.
PKard and ActivClient for Mac.
Either one of these is compatible with just about every OS on this list–with the exception of Catalina (Be sure to use their built-in enabler.)
Plus they have vendor support. And that can be quite handy if you’re having issues with your CAC enabler. However, they don’t come free. ActivClient for Mac rings in at around $50 while PKard is available for around $40.Here are the steps on how to install a CAC Reader for Mac:
Purchase a CAC reader that works for your Mac. There are only a couple that you can choose from and I’ve listed them below.
If you already have a CAC reader and it isn’t Mac friendly, you could update the firmware, however, for the non-tech savvy people out there, it’s probably better to just purchase a new one and save the headache – they’re only ~$11-13 dollars.
Once you have your CAC reader, plug it into your Mac and ensure your computer recognizes it. If you have one of the CAC readers we suggested above, then you should be good to go.
If for some reason your CAC reader isn’t working, you may need to download the appropriate drivers for your CAC reader. You can find these drivers on the Reader’s Manufacturer Website.
Now that you have your CAC reader connected and accepted on your Mac computer, it’s time to ensure you have the right certificates in order to access DOD CAC required web pages.
If you’re using Mozilla Firefox as your primary browser, you’re going to need to perform some additional steps. First, perform the same steps that you did for Chrome and Safari. Afterwards, follow these additional steps to get started.
Choosing the right CAC enabler can be pretty tricky. It all depends on what OS you have installed, how you installed it, and even what kind of CAC Card you have!
In order to get the right enabler, be sure to visit our trusty guide to Mac CAC Enablers! It’ll walk you through exactly which enabler is right for you.
Now that you have a CAC reader, certificates, and a CAC Enabler, you should now be able to access any CAC-enabled website and log on using your CAC password and data.
Ensure Your CAC Card Meets the Standards: In order for your CAC card to work, it must meet the minimal requirements. Currently, there are only four types of CAC cards that can be used. The ensure you have the right CAC card for online access, flip your CAC card to the back and if you have one of the below numbers written on the top left, then you are good to go:
If you do not have any of the above written on the back, then proceed to your nearest PSD to get a new CAC card issued.