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3 Ways to Allow Installation of Apps from Anywhere in macOS Catalina

Written by John

One problem or rather advantage of macOS is its closed platform. To maintain and sustain the high level of security on mac, macOS operates on a closed platform or otherwise called Apple’s walled Garden. Apple maintains a level of control over the apps you can install on your devices which protects your Mac from malware and bad user experience. This can be frustrating and worrying if you want to run an app and you are confronted by a warning that it is from an unidentified developer.

Do not fret, there are different ways to open apps from an unidentified developer and we are going to explain how to open apps from unidentified apps on Mac. But before we do so, it is vital to know that you should only do this only if you are satisfied that the developer and software (and the means of distribution, since innocent apps can be hijacked by guilty parties) are legit. Let’s talk about what gatekeeper is on your mac.

Gatekeeper in macOS Catalina?

The Gatekeeper is a technology designed by Apple to ensure only trusted software runs on your Mac. This security feature enforces code signing and app verification which reduces the chances of executing malware. Gatekeeper builds upon File Quarantine, which was introduced in Mac OS X Leopard and expanded in Mac OS X Snow Leopard. One thing Apple never fails to improve in every update is the gatekeeper. Gatekeeper in macOS Catalina is more sophisticated and protective than that of High Sierra.

Upon download of an application, a particular extended file attribute ("quarantine flag") WILL be added to the downloaded file. This attribute is added by the application that downloads the file, such as a web browser or email client, but is not usually added by common BitTorrent client software, such as Transmission, and application developers will need to implement this feature into their applications and is not implemented by the system.

To vouch for the integrity and security of macOS Catalina, the gatekeeper will refuse to open apps which their code-signing requirements are not met. Also, Apple can revoke the developer's certificate with which the application was signed and prevent further distribution.

How to Allow Install Apps From Anywhere in macOS Catalina

Even though Gatekeeper in macOS is now stricter than ever, there is always a way around it not excluding macOS Catalina's newest tools. Like we mentioned earlier, there are ways to open unidentified apps and they are:

Option 1: Using Terminal to Temporarily Disable Gatekeeper

1. Open “Terminal” in macOS Catalina.
This can be done by searching “terminal” or Press Command+Space, type “Terminal”, and press Enter to launch one. Or, you can open a Finder window and head to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

2. Key in the command below:
sudo spctl --master-disable
Make sure you type it correctly not ignoring the spaces and dashes. Else, the entire process might not work.

Disable gatekeeper in macOS Catalina

3. Press the Enter key on the keyboard. You will be prompted to enter the administrator password. Do this and press Enter on the keyboard.

4. After inputting your password, head to System Preferences. Click on “Security & Privacy” and check under the General tab. Where it is written, “Allow apps downloaded from:” there will be a third option: “Anywhere”. Select this and click on the padlock icon to save the changes.

Allow apps downloaded from Anywhere in macOS

What changing the command in Terminal does is that it adds the third option to Gatekeeper. Therefore, in macOS Catalina, the option of installing apps from anywhere is not missing; it is just hidden. With just a few clicks you can find it and make use of it.

Warning: remember that using this method may risk your security. Only install applications from developers you trust. When sharing the Mac with other people hide the allow apps from anywhere option. To do this, open terminal and type the command below to enable Gatekeeper:
sudo spctl –master-enable

Option 2: Using System Preferences

Personally, this is my most preferred method because it is safer than disabling the gatekeeper completely. To allow any unidentified app, you will have to go to system preferences and allow your macOS Catalina to open it. This reduces the risk of automatically opening a software containing malware. The following are the steps involved:

1. Try opening an application you downloaded from another developer. Obviously, you will be blocked.

2. Go to “System Preferences” then “Security & Privacy”. Under the General tab, you will see a message at the bottom, “XXXX was blocked from opening because it is not from an identified developer.”

3. Click on “Open anyway” and the application will be opened.

This is better than the first option because you still have control over the apps you run or install on your macOS Catalina.

Option 3: Using the Application Folder

Similar to the system preferences option, the application folder mitigates the risk of installing malware when installing an app from an unidentified developer.

1. Drag the downloaded app to the Applications folder.

2. Right-click on the application or press the control button on the keyboard and click on the app.

3. From the options, click on “Open”.

4. A pop-up box will be shown with a warning asking if you are sure to open the app. Click on “Open” to confirm that you want to open it.

In this article, we have talked extensively on macOS Catalina and the problem with “open apps from unidentified developers on Mac”, we have explained what gatekeeper is and how it can be disabled using terminal. We also talked about using system preferences and the application folder to open apps from unidentified developers. You should remember that running unidentified apps on your mac is a risk to your macOS security, thereby only open apps you trust. If you have any questions or queries, feel free to comment below. Thank you.

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