I want to download the ssl certificate from, say https://www.google.com, using wget or any other commands. Any unix command line? wget or openssl?


6 Answers 6


In order to download the certificate, you need to use the client built into openssl like so:

</dev/null openssl s_client -connect $HOST:$PORTNUMBER -servername $SERVERNAME \
    | openssl x509 > /tmp/$SERVERNAME.cert

That will save the certificate to /tmp/$SERVERNAME.cert.

The -servername is used to select the correct certificate when multiple are presented, in the case of SNI.

You can use -showcerts if you want to download all the certificates in the chain. But if you just want to download the server certificate, there is no need to specify -showcerts. The x509 at the end will strip out the intermediate certs, you will need to use sed -n '/-----BEGIN/,/-----END/p' instead of the x509 at the end.

</dev/null indicates that nothing should be sent to the server, so that the connection is released.

openssl x509 removes information about the certificate chain and connection details. This is the preferred format to import the certificate into other keystores.

  • 18
    appreciate that you not only gave a good answer, but also a precise explanation.
    – marco.m
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 17:13
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    this doesn't work in the presences of a proxy, though. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:00
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    This also doesn't work with servers that use SNI (multiple certificates/domains on a single IP-adress). To avoid problems, specify openssl's servername parameter: openssl s_client -connect HOST:PORTNUMBER -servername CN Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 12:30
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    @Thomas True but that only returns 1 certificate. If you need multiple certificates, as in the chain, you need sed. For example: openssl s_client -connect $server:$port -servername $server -showcerts 2>&1 < /dev/null | sed -n '/-----BEGIN/,/-----END/p' > chain.pem Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 20:41
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    openssl 1.1.0 and greater does support proxies now with the -proxy option (e.g. -proxy Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 12:14

I found the answer. Openssl provides it.

openssl s_client -connect ${REMHOST}:${REMPORT}

  • 4
    also openssl x509 -text <<EOF cert-text EOF to see details of the certificate
    – mpapis
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 5:21
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    sudo rm -f cert.pem && sudo echo -n | openssl s_client -connect localhost:443 | sed -ne '/-BEGIN CERTIFICATE-/,/-END CERTIFICATE-/p' > ./cert.pem courtesy of serverfault.com/questions/139728/… Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 2:50
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    this accomplishes the same and skips the sed hack.
    – phs
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 7:13
  • This just checks one certificate, what if the service is part of a load balanced group of servers, of which each have a different certificate, possibly signed by a different root CA? Or in other words, a mitm attack might let this request go trough to the real site, and then direct other requests to his servers. Are there any ways to check this? And to get a list of all certificates an domain really has? Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 10:37
  • @JensTimmerman "Or in other words, a mitm attack might let this request go trough to the real site, and then direct other requests to his servers." That is not possible unless the man-in-the-middle has a valid certificate for the target server (or the client is silly does not check the server certificate). Evidently, if the server sometimes offers a different certificate you can only hope to probably eventually get them all by repeating connection attempts. Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 16:08

The GNUTLS client tool, gnutls-cli, can also make this easy:

gnutls-cli --print-cert www.example.com \
        < /dev/null \
        > www.example.com.certs

The program is designed to provide an interactive client to the site, so you need to give it empty input (in this example, from /dev/null) to end the interactive session.

  • 1
    how would it make gnutls connect through (the system wide configured) https proxy and print the certificate it exchages? Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 9:55
  • this prints out too many certs, i dont know which
    – Dan D.
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 2:30
  • this gnutls-cli gives the latest cert, i got the old cert when using openssl s_client
    – Dan D.
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 3:34
true | openssl s_client -connect google.com:443 2>/dev/null | openssl x509

this mode of openssl expects stdin, so we provide it via true |, this connects to the server specified in the -connect parameter. 2>/dev/null silences errors (optional), we can pass the whole output into the x509 parser, specifying /dev/stdin to use the shell pipe as the input file. And that will output just the -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- to -----END CERTIFICATE----- portion of the s_client output. You can redirect that to a file by adding > google.com.pem to the end of the command.

As best I can tell, this does not verify the certificate chain, it only can tell you what ssl identity the end server provides.

  • 4
    (1) this doesn't really improve the answers from 6 years ago (2) x509 reads stdin by default so -in /dev/stdin is redundant (3) s_client verifies the server cert correctly chains to a local trust anchor (root) and is unexpired, but you've suppressed the information that would show this (4) it does NOT check for revocation (5) it checks the name in the server cert only in 1.0.2 and then not by default (but you can easily check that yourself by looking at the cert afterward) Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:43
  • @dave_thompson_085, the question is how to download certificate, but not show chain information. I like the openssl x509 much better than sed in another answer. Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 11:49
  • this works neatly, tks
    – Dan D.
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 2:33
  • works but it gives me the old cert, use gnutls-cli better
    – Dan D.
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 3:28
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    @datdinhquoc are there multiple certificates being served? I speculate that one tool is returning the first x509 certificate, and another the last. gnutls-cli in my experience shows all certificates served, i expect openssl would do the same. When handling multiple certificates it can be tricky, if you have python, I have an example x509-loader here that could be useful: stackoverflow.com/a/39313870/1695680 Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 8:27

based on @bignose answer, here is a self-contained version that fits well in e.g. a chef recipe:

sudo apt-get install gnutls-bin 
gnutls-cli --print-cert myserver.com </dev/null| sed -ne '/-BEGIN CERTIFICATE-/,/-END CERTIFICATE-/p' > myserver.crt
sudo cp myserver.crt /usr/local/share/ca-certificates/myserver.crt
sudo update-ca-certificates

Alternative syntax using Ex and process substitution:

ex +'/BEGIN CERTIFICATE/,/END CERTIFICATE/p' <(echo | openssl s_client -showcerts -connect example.com:443) -scq > file.crt

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