iOS provisioning profiles management with Fastlane Match

Fastlane Match makes certificate and provisioning profile management easier already for many years. Commonly used with a configuration file (often called Fastfile or Matchfile) added to the repository with sources of your application. It seems to be a tool that is very tightly integrated into a project of an app, but that doesn’t have to be true. It is a script with plenty of configuration options and can be used standalone in the command line.

Certificates and provisioning profiles are stored in an encrypted form in the location you choose. Feel free to use a private repository on GitHub or set it up on NAS in your LAN. You can use a local git repository on your development machine too.

General idea

Instead of creating a Matchfile, set a few environment variables before executing
fastlane match. I like to set all the account-specific attributes like this so that the command I execute has the shortest possible form.

Let’s generate a wildcard development provisioning profile:

If the repository is empty, a new development certificate will be created before generating the provisioning profile. Fastlane Match will never reuse a certificate that you have manually created.

Let’s create two more provisioning profiles with the specific application identifier. In the same shell session execute:

The first command will generate and download a new provisioning profile. The second one will create a distribution certificate first, following with a provisioning profile that will let you submit the app to the AppStore.

Way less effort than doing it in GUI, but in this form, it might not be convincing enough.

Advanced setup

When managing certificates and profiles from multiple users, where each one belongs to multiple Apple Developer Organizations, I find it useful to set up environment variables with shell scripts. Here is an example:

With this script, things start to become more simple. Generating provisioning profiles as we did before, will now look like this:

You can have a configuration script for each user – organization combination.

Hide the secrets

It is not a good idea to keep your iCloud account and encryption key stored as a plain text in a bash script. If you use a password manager which has a command-line interface, you can use it in your script. Define passwords like this:

Example using pass:

Expired certificate or profile

When provisioning profile expires after twelve months, you can renew it with the same command:

If you need to regenerate it when it is still valid (for example, because you registered new devices in developer portal), use --force flag.

If your certificate expires, you have to remove it from the repository manually.

Next time when you try to generate a new profile, a certificate will be created automatically.

Using with Continous Integration services

Fastlane Match is also handy in CI. Since you only want to retrieve certificate and profile from the repository, you can use --readonly flag.

It would not try to connect to the Apple Developer portal in case a profile or certificate expired. There is no need to define FASTLANE_PASSWORD variable (password to your iCloud account) because of that.

Generated certificates are stored in the keychain, and provisioning profiles are copied to ~/Library/MobileDevice/Provisioning Profiles/. These are locations where Xcode is looking for them, so you don’t need to take any additional steps for your app to be signed.

Your development machine

If you use Fastlane Match as I describe, Xcode does not need to have access to your Apple Developer account; you can safely remove it from the “Accounts” tab in Xcode Preferences. It will also prevent Xcode from trying to automatically generate certificates and “Xcode managed provisioning profile”. If you’re using the Fastlane Match tool, you don’t want Xcode to do this.

Security concerns

If you keep your encryption passphrase secure, belive in cryptography, and trust AES, you should not be concerned about security even if you use a public repository. A potential attacker in possession of profiles and keys cannot do any harm without compromising other secrets, like your iCloud password or access to the software you use for distributing apps in your organization. If you’re interested in potential security issues analysis, I recommend “Is it secure?” section on Codesigning Guide.

Manual decryption

When in need to inspect the contents of the repository, you can decrypt files with openssl. Use it with the following parameters:

Always keep it up to date

When executing tasks, the tool logs into the Apple Developer portal and AppStore Connect on your behalf. It is important to keep Fastlane up-to-date because APIs of those services change from time to time. You might expect it not to work correctly if not using the latest available version.


As an iOS developer on the Tabris team, I find myself saving a lot of time when using Match. There are plenty of actions I would have to do in GUI and on the Apple Developer portal when maintaining certificates and keys. After getting familiar with this tool, you can set up a new certificate and plenty of profiles in seconds.