It is a known fact that Apple will only install apps that have been confirmed from the App Store. You will have a tough time downloading apps from other locations and will not install them after downloading.
This happens because the security feature of the operating system called Gatekeeper verifies the downloaded applications before allowing them to run.
But the good news is that there are quite a few ways by which you can bypass and disable Gatekeeper and install all sorts of apps on your Mac.
What is the Gatekeeper in Mac?
As the name suggests, Gatekeeper is Apple’s security feature that keeps a check on the apps being installed on your Mac and keeps the rest away. It was first introduced in macOS 10.7.3 (Lion) in 2011.
You will see that Apple reviews and offers only those apps that are safe and compatible to use. MacOS Gatekeeper verifies the application before allowing it to run; this implies that the apps not listed in the Apple Store cannot be installed on your Mac.
Gatekeeper security applies only to the apps downloaded from the Internet. The security feature does not check the installation of applications from other sources like removable media or network drives.
Gatekeeper behaves in three ways when you download an application from the Internet:
- If the App has been downloaded from the App Store, the Gatekeeper will, by default, allow it to be installed. All the software and apps listed under the App Store undergo the code review process by Apple’s engineers. They are given a unique cryptographic digital signature set that is then verified by Gatekeeper.
- If the App is not a native of the App Store, the Gatekeeper will look for a digital signature that identifies the developer. And if the signature is verified by the Gatekeeper, you can download and install the application if it is compatible with your system.
- If there is no digital signature, the operating system will warn you that the developer has not been identified, and the App will not be installed.
MacOS Catalina’s Gatekeeper keeps these apps from being installed on your device for security. By default, the Gatekeeper will not allow you to install any app, even if you trust the developer.
The security feature significantly reduces the chances of malware that can be unintentionally or accidentally installed on your Mac device. However, you can change the settings and disable Gatekeeper to install within a few minutes.
You also have the option to install apps by ‘Identified Developers,’ apart from the ones already found in the App Store. Identified developers are developers whose apps cannot be found in the App Store but have been tested and proven for security by Apple.
To allow the installation of these apps, you can head over to the ‘System Preferences‘ and then the ‘Security and Privacy‘ option.
Here, search and click on the General tab and choose the radio option ‘Allow buttons downloaded from App Store and identified developers.’
But what would you do if the App is neither found in the App Store nor from an identified developer? Well, we can help you find your way around this peculiar issue.
Besides, let’s learn more about the recovery server could not be contacted issue with ease.
How Can You Install Apps from Other Sources in macOS?
Once you disable Gatekeeper, you can install apps from anywhere without problems. While removing the security feature entirely might not be possible, you can easily disable the Gatekeeper security feature either temporarily or permanently. Here is how you can disable Gatekeeper:
Option 1: Utilizing Terminal to Disable Gatekeeper Permanently
- 1. In your macOS, open the Terminal; you can do this by heading toward the Applications folder and then the Utility folder.
- 2. Add the key in the command ‘sudo spctl –master-disable‘ and press the enter button. Once done, you will be prompted to enter the admin password; click on Enter after the authentication.
- 3. Next, you have to open the System Preferences. Head to the Security and Privacy and then to the General tab. Here, navigate to the section ‘Allow apps downloaded from‘; you will see the option labeled ‘Anywhere.’ Select the option and save all the changes.
This change in command only adds a third option to the Gatekeeper. From this, we know that you have the option of installing apps from unknown third-party sources; it just has been hidden away very charily.
You can easily find the option with a few steps and then download apps from unknown sources. You do not have to disable the Gatekeeper security feature here exactly.
However, it is also important to mention that using this method will only risk the security of your Mac. As a precaution, you should always install apps you can verify and trust completely.
Additionally, you need to conceal the ‘Allow apps from anywhere’ option if you share your Mac with others; you can do this by opening the Terminal and entering the code ‘sudo spctl –master-enable.’
Option 2: Making Use of the Applications Folder to Open Apps
Here is how you can use the Applications Folder to open apps from unknown sources:
- 1. Pull the Downloaded App to the Applications Folder.
- 2. You can either press the control button on the keyboard and click on the App or right-click on the application itself.
- 3. Here, you will see the options. Drag the mouse pointer towards ‘Open‘ and click on it.
- 4. A pop-up warning box will be displayed and ask if you are sure you want to open the App. Click on the ‘Open‘ button to open the App.
Also read: How to fix “erase process has failed on Mac” issue.
Option 3: Disable Gatekeeper Security Feature Temporarily
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to disable Gatekeeper temporarily:
- 1. Click on the App you downloaded from a third-party developer; you cannot open the application and will be blocked automatically.
- 2. Head over to the ‘System Preferences,’ and then to ‘Security and Privacy.’ Drag the mouse over the General tab; you will see a message that reads like ‘xyz was blocked from opening because it is not from an identified developer.’
- 3. Here, you will see the ‘Open Anyway‘ option; click on this option, and the App will open.
All three methods mentioned above will work on a single app. This means that you can also use any other application on your Mac and the application from an unknown developer.
But, each time you want to open an unknown app, you will have to follow any one of these three methods to disable the Gatekeeper security feature. It is not as simple as downloading the App from a third-party website and opening it.
If you are a person who loves to download apps from the Internet, it can be a very mind-numbing and dull process to right-click on each one of them and open the apps like any other application by Apple.
Hence, you will need the help of some codes to the Terminal that will give you total control of whatever App you install on your Mac device. This means that you no longer will have to rely on what applications Apple chooses for you!
By the way, if you are bothered by the “cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified” error, here are five solutions to fix it easily.
Disable Gatekeeper on iOS Devices
The iOS version of the Gatekeeper will only allow apps to be downloaded and installed from the App Store.
The Gatekeeper settings here cannot be altered unless the iPad or iPhone has been jailbroken. But since Apple does not condone jailbreaking, you might violate your device’s warranty.
PS: here, you will learn more about how to fix issues like copy and paste not working on Mac.
- Is it safe to permanently disable Gatekeeper? Disabling Gatekeeper permanently is not recommended unless you have a specific reason to do so. It can expose your system to potential security risks.
- Can I still install software from the Mac App Store if Gatekeeper is disabled? Yes, even if Gatekeeper is disabled, you can still install and run applications from the Mac App Store without any issues.
- Can I re-enable Gatekeeper after disabling it? Yes, you can re-enable Gatekeeper by following the same steps mentioned earlier and selecting a different option under the “Allow apps downloaded from” section.
- Will disabling Gatekeeper improve the performance of my macOS? Disabling Gatekeeper does not directly affect the performance of your macOS. Its primary purpose is to enhance the security of your system.
- How can I verify the authenticity of a software if Gatekeeper is disabled? Without Gatekeeper, you will need to rely on other methods to verify the authenticity of software, such as checking the developer’s website, reading reviews, or scanning the software for malware using trusted antivirus software.
The Bottom Line
Using the Terminal is, by far, the best method to disable the Gatekeeper security feature and install a third-party app on your Mac device without having to endure the tiring process of creating an exception for each one.
With the help of this single method, you can download, install, and use these apps as often as you want with ease, no matter the source.
Ultimately, Apple installed this particular feature for its customers’ security only. Hence, opening unknown apps is not exactly for everyone. You must be certain that the apps you are downloading and installing are safe and secure and will not negatively affect your device.
Additionally, ensure you have the latest antivirus program installed on your Mac to protect you from malware that can be mistaken as legitimate apps. Try to disable Gatekeeper as minimally as possible.