Opening PEM files

Have a problem opening a .PEM file? We collect information about file formats and can explain what PEM files are. Additionally we recommend software suitable for opening or converting such files.

What is the .PEM file type?

The .pem filename extension stands for 'Privacy Enhanced Mail' (PEM) and relates to the PEM encryption method and the PEM container format initially developed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) for safeguarding electronic mail in the Internet. The original PEM is not a widely implemented standard.

The PEM container format, however, is actively used in asymmetric cryptography (different keys are needed for encryption and decryption). A PEM file is a short binary file that contains a unique public or private key used to authenticate the origin of information and confirm the identity of a web site user or a server. Such .pem files can also store entire key chains including root certificates.

PEM keys/certificates are often used in relation to SSL (Secure Socket Layer) network sockets by SSL-modules in Unix/Linux-based Apache web servers.

PEM files are not meant to be edited directly, instead they are intended to be used as security tokens by SSL-enabled web browsers and other software. PEM keys/certificates can also have other extensions like .key, .cer(t) etc.

Software to open or convert PEM files

You can open PEM files with the following programs:
Symantec Encryption Desktop
Symantec Encryption Desktop by Symantec Corporation
PE-DESIGN NEXT by Brother Industries, Ltd.
PGP Desktop
PGP Desktop by PGP Corporation

Popular formats