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Common Access Card help for your
Personal Computer

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Installation Steps

Step 1: Obtain a CAC Reader
Step 2: CAC Reader driver / Video
Step 3: DoD Certificates / Video
Step 4: ActivClient  / Video
Step 4a: Update ActivClient
Step 5:  IE adjustments | Video
Log into AKO with your CAC now
Proceed ONLY if you need to sign forms
Step 6: Lotus Forms / Video
Step 7: ApproveIt / Video

(The CHESS website has scheduled outages: Saturdays between 0200-0500 EST and the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of the month between 0700-1200 EST)


If you are having problems accessing the ApproveIt software download link below (outside of the hours listed above), or are wondering why there is NO alternate download location, please read below.



Installation Steps:

Download / Save this page as single / printable PDF

Preliminary Note:  Make sure you have already installed Lotus Forms, and Adobe Reader (9.5 or below) before installing ApproveIt.  If you have Adobe Reader X or XI installed, you will receive this error.  Follow the note under Cure 3-1.

1.  Download ApproveIt 6.5 from CHESS:


2.  Click the link titled:  Download Software

Login with your CAC.  You might have to click the link above again at this point.

3.  Click the link titled:  Silanis ApproveIt Desktop Software

Alternate download location:


4.  Once it is downloaded, double click the file titled: ApproveIt_6.5.exe, then select Run

5.  Click the Browse... (button) and select a location like your Desktop or Documents, then select OK, now select Unzip.  When you get the little box stating 17 file(s) unzipped successfully select OK.  (If you don't select a location, it will automatically place it into a hidden folder inside Windows)

6.  Close the WinZip Self-Extractor window.

7.  Navigate to the location you selected in step 5.  You will see a folder titled:  ApproveIt 6.5, open it and select AGMInst.exe (Army Star Logo) Application file type.  (Windows 8 users look below at both NOTEs)  If the Windows User Access Control pops up, Allow it.

NOTE:  If you receive "No host application was found on this computer.  Please install the host application before installing ApproveIt Desktop"  look here for cure

NOTE2:  Windows XP & 8 users, may have to open the Source folder and run the 82KB setup file instead of the AGMInst (Army Star Logo) file mentioned above.

8.  You will see a small window (like Lotus Forms did) telling you to wait.

NOTE:  My personal recommendation to verify the software installed is to navigate to Control Panel: Uninstall a program (Windows 7 / 8 / Vista), or Programs and Features (Vista), or Add/Remove Programs (XP) look for: ApproveIt Desktop


9.  Restart your computer, then come back to this page to use the Sample Form below OR you may want to save it to your desktop now.

 Video Installation Instructions


Use this Sample Form to test your digital signature

This will only work on Internet Explorer 6 & 7.  All other browsers read below the image.

Image of a blank DA3161

  NOTE:  IE 8, 9 & 10 users can click the little torn paper before clicking the  link.  Otherwise, they along with: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera web browser users will receive 'gibberish' when clicking the link above.  You will need to right click the "sample form" link and select Save Link As / Download Linked File As / Save to Download Folder. Save it to your desktop, then test from your desktop.  If your computer downloads it as a .txt file, right click it and change it to .xfdl


IE 9 & 10 users look here for other options


Compatibility view for IE 8, 9, & 10



This also means you will have problems using Forms (on AKO) for digitally signing and routing forms.

If you are not familiar with signing forms with your CAC? Look here for instructionsVisual steps, or Watch Video


The ideas on this website are from my personal experience.  I have been told by Army Publishing Directorate (APD) to send users to their help desk so they become aware of the problems with this program.  703-692-1306 / DSN:  312-222-1306 , Webform, or 


If you are having problems accessing the CHESS website, contact the CHESS help desk at: or 888-232-4405 / 703-806-1019 / DSN: 312-656-1019 (Monday - Friday 0800-1700 Eastern).


 APD Installation guide for ApproveIt 6.5

ApproveIt Desktop enables users to approve, verify and securely print documents, forms, letters and spreadsheets. ApproveIt uses Silanis Intelligent Signature Technology, which is a form of electronic signature developed by Silanis and is based on digital signature technology. The Silanis Intelligent Signature Technology electronically signs the content of documents or forms that are presented to the user in Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Lotus Forms, PureEdge Viewer, and FormFlow. Upon signing a document or form with ApproveIt Desktop, the electronic signature and audit trail information is embedded within the structure of the document or form and becomes a permanent part of it, much like a wet ink signature on paper.
If you are interested in knowing how to digitally sign a memorandum, this is how to do it (Word 2003 & 2007 only) (Word 2010 & 2013) read the sentence below.


new imageNOTE:  If you have Office 2010 or 2013 installed you may need to configure ApproveIt to get the ApproveIt tabs back.  Follow this page.

If you need to completely uninstall ApproveIt, follow this information.



To download DA forms, go to the Army Publishing Directorate website , click on the Forms (tab) DA Forms button.  Find the form you want (in the range of form numbers).  Right click the XFDL link to the right of the form you want, Select Save Target As.  Save it to your computer and you will have the form for later.  You can also click the link, it will open up your Lotus Forms or Pure Edge software automatically (only if using Internet Explorer 6, 7, or 8).  All other browsers will have to use the Right click, Save As option to save your form.


Digitally signing a form is simple when following these instructions

PDF Instructions    Video Instructions

With your form open and your CAC inserted in the card reader

Single click the button with the slanted pen with "Click to Approve" typed after it (see image)

Click to Approve button image

Read the Electronic Signature Notice, then OK

Click the word Sign (not OK)

Select your name (the one without the word email in it), then OK

You should see your name, once you do, click the word Sign

It will prompt you to type in your PIN, then select OK

Once you see Signature is valid, select OK

You have now signed your form

If the word Sign is GRAY, please look here for some known cures


Fix the ePersona message when trying to sign



Watch Silanis Electronic Signatures 2-minute Presentation



This is the email I received from APD on 25 August 2010 when I asked for permission to have an alternate download location for people when the CHESS website is down.


"In regards to your email, As I am sure you are well aware APD is the Enterprise provider of Lotus Forms Viewer and Silanis ApproveIt software.  There are only two channels that are authorized to be the authoritative distributor of the fore mentioned software, 1. AGM (Army Gold Master) for GFE (Government Funded Equipment) installation / use and 2. CHESS (Computer Hardware, Enterprise Software Solutions) for PFE (Personal Funded Equipment) installation / use.  APD does not authorize any other body (i.e. AKO) to distribute its Enterprise Software.  Your request to have this software hosted in your files has been dually noted.  At this time your request to host / provide the Lotus Forms Viewer and Silanis ApproveIt software is Denied.  You will be advised if APD's stance on this request changes in the future."


For issues obtaining the software from the CHESS website, utilize the Official Army channels for assistance. 


The ideas on this website are from my personal experience.  I have been told by Army Publishing Directorate (APD) to send users to their help desk so they become aware of the problems with this program.  703-692-1306 / DSN:  312-222-1306 , Webform, or 


If you are having problems accessing the CHESS website, contact the CHESS help desk at: or 888-232-4405 / 703-806-1019 / DSN: 312-656-1019 (Monday - Friday 0800-1700 Eastern).



 If you have questions or suggestions for this site, contact Michael J. Danberry
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