How to Allow Apps from Anywhere in macOS Sierra Gatekeeper

Sep 27, 2016 - 48 Comments

Allow apps from anywhere in Gatekeeper for macOS

Gatekeeper in macOS Sierra is now stricter than ever, defaulting to only allow options for apps downloaded from either the App Store or the App Store and identified developers. Advanced Mac users may wish to allow a third option, which is the ability to open and allow apps downloaded from anywhere in macOS Sierra.


To be clear, the “Allow applications downloaded from anywhere” option is hidden by default in Gatekeeper for macOS Sierra. You can see this by going to the Security & Privacy preference panel, and under the “General” section you will not find such an option for Gatekeeper app allow settings. Despite that, with a little command line intervention you can reveal the third option and regain the ability to open apps that come from anywhere.

This is not recommended for most Mac users, only advanced Mac users and developers who have the ability to accurately gauge app validity should use this method, which involves disabling Gatekeeper from the command line, thereby removing the standard Gatekeeper security mechanisms in Mac OS.

How to Allow Apps from Anywhere in Gatekeeper for macOS Sierra

  1. Quit out of System Preferences
  2. Open the Terminal app from the /Applications/Utilities/ folder and then enter the following command syntax:
  3. sudo spctl --master-disable

  4. Hit return and authenticate with an admin password
  5. Allow gatekeeper apps from anywhere macOS

  6. Relaunch System Preferences and go to “Security & Privacy” and the “General” tab
  7. You will now see the “Anywhere” option under ‘Allow apps downloaded from:’ Gatekeeper options
  8. Allow gatekeeper apps from anywhere in macOS

You’ll now be able to open and launch apps from anywhere under macOS Sierra, but be forewarned this turns off Gatekeeper and is not recommended for the vast majority of Mac users. Allowing apps from anywhere including unidentified developers can potentially leave a Mac vulnerable to certain malware and junkware and should be avoided by all Mac users with the exception of those with genuinely advanced abilities.

Another approach is to manually add Gatekeeper exceptions via the command line, a solution which may be more appropriate than simply allowing everything to skirt past Gatekeeper.

Returning to Default Gatekeeper Security in macOS Sierra

You can also reverse this and go back to the default strict Gatekeeper settings of only allowing apps from the Mac App Store and identified developers by issuing the following command string:

sudo spctl --master-enable

Hitting return and re-authenticating will return macOS Gatekeeper back to its strict default state of disallowing random apps from launching.

Default Gatekeeper security in macOS

Nearly every Mac user should leave this feature enabled in the default state. If you do not have the ability to easily discern which apps are legitimate or not, you should absolutely not change this option. The “app can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” message is there to offer protection to the vast majority of Mac users and should not be ignored.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Security, Tips & Tricks

48 Comments

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  1. drrjv says:

    You can also do the same by clicking control-click ‘open’

  2. Stephen Strum says:

    My opinion as someone that used PCs for 20 years and then became a devout Mac user is that this is a bunch of hogwash i.e. that Apple should think that only apps that it supplies or those obtained from the App Store should pass muster, and that only advanced users with magical skills should deviate from this activity →

    “This is not recommended for most Mac users, only advanced Mac users and developers who have the ability to accurately gauge app validity should use this method.”

    I have been purchasing or obtaining non-approved apps since day 1 of my converting to Mac computers.

    So those of us using PathFinder instead of the anemic Finder, or Moon, or other so-called “3rd party apps” that make the use of Apple computers better for a lot of us either have to be fortunate enough to find such apps in the App Store. For years, I have used NeoOffice and paid a minor donation to the developer. Now, NeoOffice made it into the “holy place” in the App Store and the same software is $39 dollars. Here’s what would have been nice for Apple to have done instead:

    An option in downloading apps (other than that which Tim Cook et al feel we users can handle) should be one of the options found without having to use a Terminal command. And if there are apps that are identified as malware or spam, then it would be nice if Apple or some other company could notify users rather than make a generalization that there are bad apps out there. I have intensely used my iMac over the last 11 years and have never run into a problem with the many 3rd party apps that I have purchased or obtained for free. And how many of those in the App Store were “outcasts” for years before being granted sanctuary? Give me a break.

    If Apple would stop spewing out new OS and improve key functions of the current OS, it would make many of us Mac users a lot happier and more effective, and then maybe a lot of the “other” apps I buy would not be necessary. A good example in my case is that the upgrade to Sierra will not allow me to run a very important medical program called EndNote. Endnote is a Thomsen Reuters app that has been around for decades & of course is not in the App Store.

    I miss Steve Jobs. Apple has lost its pizzazz and vision.

    • Peter says:

      The whole point is Apple is trying to get devs to sign their apps, they don’t have to be from appstore. Right now devs are just to lazy to register as an Apple dev and sign their apps.

      This is a good thing not bad, just seems bad as devs are not doing what they should be doing.

      • Sebby says:

        Mmm, and Apple just happens to get a recurring payment of £99/year for the privilege. A complete coincidence, of course. :)

        Come on. Yes, this security “feature” has a user-facing benefit, and I’d leave it on just to get the warm fuzzy I do from “the legitimacy factor” of Apple’s signature. I also think outright disabling the feature isn’t necessary. But as with so many things Apple, priority #1 is Apple, and #2 is the user–increasingly, it seems to me, a very distant second. The reality is that a well-designed interface (like the one that existed before Mountain Lion, in fact) is already perfectly good at warning users off from accidental invocations of rogue software, and (although it can be hard to believe sometimes) not everybody needs their hands held for them. More importantly, many devs don’t need the hassle of paying Apple’s tax (think Open Source stuff) and, if the option didn’t exist for users to run their software, they probably wouldn’t port to the Mac at all.

        I just hope it doesn’t get to the stage where unsigned apps aren’t allowed at all. That would (will?) be a sad day.

  3. Clam says:

    Did something change in Sierra compared to El Capitan that prevents or removes the functionality of ‘Ctrl+Click > “Open” menu item’ to selectively bypass Gatekeeper when “App store and identified developers” is selected in the preferences? If not, then changing the preferences to “Anywhere” is a bad idea and you really shouldn’t do it, no matter how cool it is to fiddle with the system settings and make an option appear that most people don’t have access to.

    More info about these options:
    https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202491

    • tobin says:

      Yes in Mac OS you can still right click / control click to Open and circumvent Gatekeeper, but for unidentified apps.

      • dialoguy says:

        Running Sierra 10.12.5 Beta. Can’t open an app by right-clicking/”Open” nor by getting the gatekeeper out of the way…

  4. John R says:

    Heck, yeah, man. Open up your Mac to anything that wants to install. Go for it, the sky is the limit. The PC world is yours for the taking.

  5. Ted says:

    It’s been about a week without any Mac OS or iOS updates. I’m feeling unloved Apple. Are you guys asleep or what.

    GIMME MORE UPDATES!!!

  6. Joe says:

    First “App Nap” and now forcing the extra $99 a year from developers. I don’t like the dictatorship that Apple is doing with OS X. I’ll be the judge when my apps should stop functioning and why confuse your average user on why some apps will not run? Sandboxing should solve most issues from misbehaving apps/developers. Apple is getting annoying and over thinking some of the simplest things.

    • Gareth says:

      Let’s face it, Apples ethos with OSX is turning into Microsoft’s ethos for Windows by filling it with bloatware and making its performance worse. Each upgrade slows down the machine start up and we are now seeing the the spinning Windows disc as often as we used to see the egg timer on Windows. Apple are just getting greedy having grabbed so many niches in the market. Just revisit what happened to Blackberry, Nokia and almost to Microsoft and try to stop pissing off your customers.

  7. Morgan says:

    Apple has gone overboard trying to “nanny” its users. It is a vicious world out there, but the fact is that the number of truly malicious apps is small. Outright banning the ability to run apps that aren’t signed is a bit like the government stepping in and banning anyone from eating fruit that’s not organic… (unless they ctrl-alt-click the non organic banana in just the right place, to indicate their acceptance that the suspect yellow fruit might cause their head to explode upon consumption.)
    Apple… I have found myself desiring to get away from your nannyish self, seriously, for the first time in 20+ years of use (i.e. NeXT then OS X). If the alternatives weren’t so awful, I’d already be gone.

  8. Gert says:

    Actually I hate it that Apple takes away choices the users previously had. Apple took away the acces to the Library to prevent that some stupid people make mistakes. That was easy to pass by, but still Apple is trying to take our freedom without explaining and without giving different options.
    I just want to keep my personal choice. I seldom pass the safety preferences of apple, only so once in a while, and I restore the default settings immediately there after. Step by step Apple is taking over as a advanced Big Brother that knows best, instead of educating people. It’s almost like religion. The pastor knows what’s best for you.

    I have not installed the new system just because of this.

    By the way, is the command line option just to restore the “Anywhere” button, so I can act like before? and restore full safety when returning to the other two buttons? or is restoring the “Anywhere” button include a limited safety to the other two buttons?

  9. Carl Smith says:

    It’s all about turning OS X into iOS. Apple make much more money charging huge premuims on phones and mobile apps than selling laptops to developers, and clearly thinks increasing margins is more important than market share. Basically, install Linux.

  10. Tyler Arndt says:

    Have a couple programs for work that would no longer work after I updated my OS. This was an easy fix!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

  11. Stanley Gorczynski says:

    I’ve had trouble launching a legit outside app and the company’s troubleshooting guide said to delete it and reload and launch but now I cannot install it using either method (Contol click in Apps or Anyway in Sys Pref). It gives me the option to install it anyway but when I hit ok i get this msg. osstatus error -67071

    Pls help

  12. Stanley Gorczynski says:

    Couldn’t you just click the Anywhere option to launch a particular as before and then return and select the App Store and Developers option??? As before???

  13. veronica says:

    can I just select back the identified developers option or does it somehow defaults back to the “anywhere” if I don’t change it?

    • veronica says:

      ok apparently it doesn’t matter because the option “anywhere” went away just by changing the selection to identified developers and closing the system preferences

  14. MArtin says:

    Thank you so much for this one, and no, the Control-Click – Open thing does not work anymore on macOS Sierra

  15. Remy says:

    Hi,

    I followed all the step but the “anywhere” doesn’t appear. I’m on MacBook Air if that can help. If there is still someone here a little help would be really great.

    Thanks in advance,
    Rémy

  16. Nilesh Parmar says:

    Genius, thank you.

  17. Gumonx says:

    it works! thanks a lot! I where having trouble to install folx. Just a Quick question, can we just leave this to have the “anywhere” option or is mandatory to re do the: sudo spctl –master-enable on terminal?

  18. Samantha Atkins says:

    This is nice to know but I am not happy. Developers either pay Apple a tax to sign apps or worse, put up with all the app store restrictions and pay 30% of sales OR they are locked out of serving the needs of most would be customers.

    The average customer is not going to even go see that they can allow your app to run, much less do something on the command line.

    This is not about security. This is about Apple exerting as much control and extracting as much money as possible. Please stop excusing it as about security. Security is not that hard without such restriction.

  19. BRIAN says:

    why am i getting this when i type the command in?

    We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local System
    Administrator. It usually boils down to these three things:

    #1) Respect the privacy of others.
    #2) Think before you type.
    #3) With great power comes great responsibility.

    Password:
    Sorry, try again.
    Password:

  20. Karolis says:

    You are genius. Thank you

  21. Samuel says:

    Thank you !! Big amount of useless topics but this one is finally solution. Thanks !!

  22. Matthew says:

    Thanks for this! I have a question though… Initially, by mistake, I entered the following into the terminal:

    sudo spctl

    And nothing else! A load of type came up. I am not at all conversant with these things, I wonder, has entering this alone caused any problems for my Mac? Any guidance on this is much appreciated!

  23. irina says:

    Hi, guys!
    I tries every step described above but is not working. after Im typing the command a small grey key shows up and doesnt let me type anything inside the terminal. I have the admin password but I cant do anything with it.
    I bought the computer a week ago from a guy who gave me all the data he thought I might need. I went to the Apple store and the guys from there told me that the comp is locked in some way by i dont know what sort of directory from the selling company and that I have to talk to them in order to I dont know what because I dont understand much from this SF language.
    And this is not the only weird issue I have with the computer. Sometimes it tells me that in order to run or download a certain app I have to download the last OS version, or an OS newer than Lion/Snow Leopard etc. But I am already at Sierra. wtf? Or trying to run Imovie I bumped into: you cant use this because the comp belonged to another user.
    What do I do? Do I have to reinstall the system? I have also windows in Bootcamp and I am not sure how complicated this would be.
    Thanks for help in advance.
    Irina

  24. CplHare says:

    Outstanding tip! Thank you

  25. galaflor says:

    I tried this but it asked for an admin password with a key icon. Where do I find the admin password?

  26. Reza says:

    Very useful. Thank you.

  27. Abe says:

    Thanks so much. This helped me. Strangely, sometimes Sierra reverts back from “Anywhere” to “App Store” again. Anybody experienced this as well?

  28. Abe says:

    Thanks so much. This helped me very much.

    Strangely, sometimes Sierra reverts back from “Anywhere” to “App Store” again. Anybody experienced this as well?

  29. Kim says:

    This was very helpful! Thank you very very much! I was on the phone with Apple Technical service for more than 3-hours. My call was escalated, but Apple Technical Service employees could not figure the issues (even after I kept saying “the Anywhere” option is not visible).

    It took me weeks to find this information, but Thank you

  30. Christine says:

    Hi
    I followed all the instructions above, but I still get an error message when I click on Bibisco to launch it. I have a screen capture of the error but cannot include it here.

    It says : ” An Error has occured. Se the log file /Users/mac/.eclipse/487195311_macosx_cocoa_x86_64/configuration/1498230110157.log.

    Does it ring a bell to anyone?

    Thx
    C.

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