How to open unidentified developer geeks

How to open apps you downloaded from anywhere, macOS

Perhaps that one change in macOS Sierra will be over by the time you need it the most. Or maybe you didn't discover that little shift until you were trying to install a favorite app that you did not download from the Mac App Store . Anyway, you learn the hard way that macOS Sierra made the usual method of opening apps downloaded from everywhere invisible!

The settings were until recently found on the General tab of the Security and Privacy System Preferences. But not anymore, not with macOS. When you really need this app and can't figure out how to open it, it's frustrating. No it is very frustrating that our Macs just don't work the way they used to!

Apple's Mac operating system has included a security tool called Gatekeeper since OSX Lion. This feature prevents software and apps from being downloaded from unidentified developers. Gatekeeper believes the app is causing problems if the app you're trying to download isn't signed with Apple. And it doesn't allow this app on your Mac. For most Mac users, this is a very good thing and it helps keep their computers safe. But there are many of us iFolk who desperately need and want the ability to download AND open apps that are downloaded from anywhere.

So what is this gatekeeper anyway?

In theory, Gatekeeper protects your Mac from apps that possibly have negative effects. It works by not downloading unsigned apps and opening them on your Mac. Apple prefers that all third-party apps go through the signature process. Developers register with Apple and a unique developer ID identifies each developer. This ID is then used to test and validate the app for Apple products. Apple reviews, approves, and accepts all signed apps. Once accepted, the app will officially support Gatekeeper. Users can download and open these apps from the Mac App Store.

Apple considers this method to be the safest and most reliable way to download new apps on your Mac computer. They believe that downloading apps solely from the Mac App Store will reduce the risk. And since Apple has reviewed the app, Apple will quickly remove it from the Mac App Store in case there is ever a problem.

When an app Developed by an unknown developer without a developer ID, Gatekeeper blocks the installation and opening of this app . However, there are plenty of great apps, especially open source apps, that are not available through the Mac App Store for a number of reasons. Many of these third-party apps have been thoroughly tested and have worked for ages on Macs and other computers. These apps are optionally or coincidentally not currently available in the Mac App Store.

What about the Mac App Store?

It's easy to believe that the Mac App Store works just like the App Store for iPhones and other iDevices. But not like this! Since the Mac App Store opened, Mac computers have always been there Install applications that are not available in the store. Before there was a Mac App Store (2011), installing applications from third-party websites or installation discs was the norm. In addition, developers must pay Apple a percentage when purchasing apps from the Mac App Store. There are no additional fees for Apple when purchasing directly from the developer, which keeps costs down for all of us users. For these reasons and more, many apps are not included in the Mac App Store.

Mac users continue to (and will continue to get) apps straight from developer sites or old school through installation CDs. The long and short is that the Mac App Store isn't the only way to get apps. So it's pretty important to bypass this macOS default!

Where can you open apps downloaded from anywhere?

In previous versions of the Mac operating system, there was a check box option under System Preferences> Security & Privacy that allowed you to download apps from anywhere. However, macOS Sierra has introduced a gatekeeper that is much stricter than in the past. In this latest incarnation of the operating system, Gatekeeper only allows options for apps downloaded from the App Store or the App Store and identified developers by default. For us iFolk who want or need to download an app from a trusted source, but currently does not trust (or identify) Apple, what should be done?

We need this third option, the option to download apps from anywhere, which has apparently gone with our update to macOS Sierra.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can bypass Gatekeeper's default settings. If we want or have to, we can we open apps downloaded from everywhere .

So let's get started!

Here's how to open apps that aren't available in the App Store

The super easy way to bypass Apple defaults and open apps you've downloaded from anywhere

So if you trust the app and its unidentified developer, there is a really easy way to open this app.

And it's surprising how easy this method is, and basically requires a single click. To selectively bypass Gatekeeper, simply Control-click (or right-click) and choose Open from the menu options. A message will alert you that the app was from an unidentified developer and ask if you are sure you want to open it. Once you're familiar with the source of the app, click Open. That's it!

This option works for individual apps. Your computer's internal list of identified developers will be updated so that macOS will recognize the developer as "identified" in the future. However, this method does not perform universal updates to your security and privacy system options. This is a one-time option for times when you want or need to download and open a specific app that is NOT currently available in the App Store. (i.e. the app is not signed.)

Another, slightly longer way to open apps downloaded from anywhere

Assuming you trust the app, after downloading it, move it to your Applications folder. Now try to open it. You will likely see a warning that the app "cannot open because it was from an unidentified developer". Choose OK. However, this does not open the app.

Now go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy and select the General tab. Go to the "Allow apps to download from:" section and see if the app you just wanted to open is listed with the "Definitely open" button. If so, click this button to open this app. Note that the "Always open" button is only available approximately 1 hour after the first attempt to open the app.

macOS takes note of this app and this developer and adds them to the list of identified developers of the operating system (for this Mac only). If you ever download another app from the same developer, macOS will check this internal list. If the developer is listed, macOS opens any app from that developer.

Information about the unidentified alert

If you open an app that has not been registered with Apple by an identified developer, you will see a warning message. Showing this message doesn't mean there is something wrong with that particular app. Developers wrote many of these unidentified apps before developer ID registration began. Others choose not for a variety of reasons, from cost (Apple charges an annual developer fee) to sentencing.

The unidentified developer warning means that the app you are trying to open has not been verified by Apple. As a result, macOS cannot verify if this app has been modified or damaged since it was released.

As soon as you open an unidentified app, that app is listed as a Exception to your security settings saved . From now on, open it as usual by double-clicking.

The terminal is available to you to open apps that you have downloaded from anywhere

Use Terminal to update our security and privacy options and include the check box that we are using from everywhere Open downloaded apps . And it's actually pretty easy to make that change.

Although simple, this step is not recommended for the average Mac user. Before downloading and opening an app that Apple does not currently recognize or identify, make sure you (or your company) fully trust the source and validity of the app. Changing this security setting exposes your computer to potential risk and makes your Mac more susceptible to malware and other harmful junkware. So, be careful and double (or triple) double-check an app's Trust Score before downloading and opening it.

Allow and open apps downloaded from anywhere

  1. Quit System Preferences and all open applications
  2. Open terminal
    1. Located in the folder / Applications / Utilities /
  3. Enter sudo spctl –master-disable
  4. Press the Enter key
  5. Enter your administrator password to confirm
  6. Open System Preferences> Security & Privacy
    1. Select the General tab
  7. Make sure that "Allow apps from" now shows "Anywhere" as an option

Now you can Install and open apps downloaded from anywhere on macOS Sierra. This command will disable Gatekeeper and allow apps from anywhere, including unidentified developers. Apple warns that these unidentified developer apps (unsigned) could make your Mac more vulnerable to malware and junkware.

Return to the original macOS app settings

To return to macOS default settings, repeat the above steps by following step 3 through Activate replace ,instead of at the end of the command too deactivate .

So step 3 is as follows:

sudo spctl -master-enable

This will reset macOS Gatekeeper to its strict standard and prevent apps that have not been downloaded from being downloaded and opened.

Check the status of the gatekeeper

It's as simple as a command to check the status of Gatekeeper on your Mac without opening System Preferences. Open Terminal and enter the following command: spctl status . Then, press ENTER. And you will get a response from either "Assessments Enabled" which means Gatekeeper is on and ACTIVE. Or you can see "disabled" which means the gatekeeper is OFF and INACTIVE.

A word for the wise

If you get an "App cannot be opened because it is from an unidentified developer", take a good look at this app and make sure you trust its source before downloading and opening it. This warning is intended to protect your computer and you from harm and malware. So don't just ignore them. Use caution and caution when downloading apps that are not currently on the Mac App Store.

That said, there are tons of wonderful third-party apps out there that aren't currently on the Mac App Store. Many of these apps are currently being tested and not yet accepted. Still others do not seek approval based on beliefs and values. So don't discount a good app just because it's not on the Mac App Store. Do your research and check the source of an app before deciding whether or not to download it. Think great apps like NeoOffice that weren't available in the Mac App Store in a long time but are now available!