How to Fix App “is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash” Error on Mac

Feb 13, 2019 - 54 Comments

App is damaged and cant be opened, move to Trash error message on the Mac

Some Mac users may occasionally run into a somewhat strange error when they try to open an app that was downloaded to their Mac, upon launching the app a little “verifying” progress bar will appear and stall for a moment before an error alert message says “ is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash.” with an accompanying detail specifying when and where the file was downloaded from. You then have two options, to ‘cancel’ or to “Move to Trash” the app you downloaded.

This article will offer a few ways to remedy this error message on the Mac.

How to Fix App Damaged and Can’t Be Opened Errors on Mac

There are a few different tips and tricks that can remedy these ‘app damaged’ error messages on the Mac. Re-downloading the app, rebooting the Mac, installing system software updates, and using the command line are covered here. Note if you are seeing a similar but different error message with Mac App Store apps, use this troubleshooting guide instead.

1: Re-download the App

The first thing you should do to try and remedy the “app damaged” error message is to re-download the app to the Mac, and make sure it comes from a trusted source.

For example if you are downloading Google Chrome or Signal, make sure you download those apps directly from the developer website only, do not download them from third party sites.

Often simply re-downloading the app, trashing the ‘damaged’ version, then relaunching the freshly downloaded copy will resolve this error message.

Sometimes the re-downloading approach doesn’t work, and sometimes downloading an app directly from a developer or a trusted source is not an option, and sometimes you have to download certain apps from third party sites (particularly with antiquated apps that have become abandonware). In these situations, you can try the next approach to get around the the “app is damaged and can’t be opened” error message.

As mentioned earlier, if you are seeing a similar error with a Mac App Store app saying “ is damaged and can’t be opened. Delete and download it again from the App Store.” then click here for different instructions at resolving. Usually you simply have to log back into the Mac App Store and re-download the app in that situation.

2: Reboot

This is decidedly simpleton, but often simply rebooting the Mac will resolve the “app is damaged and can’t be opened” error message on the Mac, particularly if you have already re-downloaded the app from a trusted source (the Mac App Store, directly from the developer, etc).

You can restart any Mac by going to the  Apple menu and choosing “Restart”.

After the Mac boots back up again, try and re-open the app again.

3: Install Available System Software Updates

It appears that sometimes this error message shows up because of specific system software versions and/or Gatekeeper. Installing available system software updates on the Mac can often resolve this if so. Be sure to backup the Mac before doing so.

For MacOS 10.14 or later (Mojave and newer): Go to the “Software Update” preference panel in System Preferences to find available macOS system software updates.

For MacOS 10.13 and earlier: Go to the Mac App Stores “Updates” tab to find available system software updates.

For pre-App Store Macs (10.6 and earlier): Use the “Software Update” preference panel in System Preferences as well.

If there are available system software updates, or security updates, install those to the Mac.

Note this is not suggesting to update major OS releases, which is a much more complex task, only to update available system software updates. For example if your Mac is running El Capitan 10.11.x than install any El Capitan related updates that are available.

4: Use xattr on the App Throwing the Damaged Error

This is sort of a last resort and is only recommended for advanced Mac users. Generally speaking if the app is still throwing a ‘damaged’ error message you might want to not use it. Use this at your own risk.

With the command line you can use xattr to view and remove extended attributes from a file on the Mac including the application throwing the “ is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash.” error message.

Launch Terminal and then issue the following command:

xattr -cr /path/to/

For example:

xattr -cr /Applications/

The -c flag removes all attributes, whereas -r applies recursively for the entire targeted .app directory contents.

The xattr command can also be used to remove the ‘application downloaded from the internet’ error message on the Mac too. Again this is only recommended to advanced users because modifying extended attributes may have unintended consequences, and again you might be attempting to run an app that you should not be running, either for stability, privacy, security, or other reasons.

Did the tricks above work to resolve the “ is damaged and can’t be opened. You should move it to the Trash.” error on the Mac for you? Do you know of another workaround or solution to resolving this error message? Share with us in the comments!


Related articles:

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


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. xho says:

    it worked thanks
    xattr -cr /Applications/

  2. Lelel says:

    this video helped me!
    1. move the application to your desktop
    2. run ‘sudo xattr -cr {pathname to your application}’
    3. open the application again

    • Jamie says:

      That video just took the answer from #3 in this article and made a video about it, which is basically what 95% of YouTube content is; making videos of other peoples content

  3. jo5h says:

    xattr trick work perfectly.

    it installed smoothly after running that command

  4. Sonia A. says:

    Downloaded app twice and did not solve.
    Rebooted Mac and problem solved. thanks!!!

  5. Frike says:


  6. MartyB says:

    Hi, I follow instruction but after apply command application is starting (icon bouncing) and immediately shut down. Do have anyone solution? Thanks

  7. Wm. Cerniuk says:

    the removal of the “x”tra attributes did the trick beautifully. I, of course, ran:

    > sudo su

    first… then xattr

    I really want to know how this happens. It has been like a splinter in my palm for a year… irritating but not enough to go get some tweezers until now. Thanks for the tweezers!!

  8. elmejor says:

    1. Open terminal
    2. Run
    sudo spctl --master-disable
    3. Run installer/app
    4. Run
    sudo spctl --master-enable

  9. russnt3 says:

    Worked for me, thanks very much.

    • TheBuzz says:

      I am so jealous, russnt3.

      Did all of the above, but I get no help. Even downloaded and installed Big Sur to replace Catalina.

      The wording is a bit different in this OS version. Now, my error message is:

      “Eject disk image” instead of “Move to trash.”

  10. Ders says:

    The xattr -cr DID NOT work for me. Terminal gave me this error message. I am the system administrator.

    xattr: [Errno 13] Permission denied


    • ItchyB says:

      You will have to run it as administrator. In your to do that run the command with `sudo`, so:

      `sudo xattr -cr /path/to/`. You will be prompted for your password. If you are an administrator on your machine you can enter the password you use to login to your computer (not your apple ID, unless they’re the same).

  11. iRezaMac says:

    Big Sur 11.2.2 :
    the command might give you error once move the app to the trash and reinstall .. give another try
    Note: if the app has space between names example: paint app
    make sure to rename from application folder and remove the space : PaintApp

    then run the code

  12. Kim Henderson says:

    Cooking fever will not open HELP!!!!!

  13. Mraz says:

    sudo xattr -cr “/Applications/App” is the right command for mac. Worked for me. Thanks

  14. sherif says:

    ((SOLVED)) “app is damaged and can’t be opened” only 2 steps to open apps on big sur

  15. Soft says:

    This worked for me…………….

  16. Kenny says:

    Hi , my Lightroom cc 9.3 version can not open after the patch of adobe zip 5.2.4, but the photoshop do can use, may I know what can I do ? thanks

  17. Paul says:

    Worked for both standalone app and vst.
    xattr -cr /Applications/Company\ Somefolder/AppName/
    xattr -rc /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/VST/your-plugin-name.vst

  18. Bjorn Buyst says:

    Hi I can not find this item anywhere?

    “msboqgturnvf” is damaged and can’t be opened.
    This file was downloaded on an unknown date.

  19. Connor says:

    None of these worked, and the xattr -cr only turns the app into a TextEdit document with code?

  20. Howard Lovatt says:

    Thanks, xattr worked for me.

  21. Peter says:

    Help Please!
    Unfortunately none of the above are working for me. I have reinstalled the app many times and have reinstalled the operating system from time machine backups prior to when the problem arose. On a couple of occasions the app worked then on shut down and restart the problem returned.
    The people at support at Mac have told me the issue is with the App and I should talk to the app developers however the app has been running perfectly for years on numerous computers. If I can’t resolve it, can I run a virtual machine with an older operating system that the app will run on? Currently the computer in question is running Catalina.

  22. Kyrylo says:

    xattr command fixed the problem for me too!!!!
    Many thanks

  23. Boy Howdy says:

    I was having a different problem than initially described in this post, but step 4 solved my problem. Since updating to 10.14.6 from either .5 or .4 (can’t remember which), I’ve been having this issue where, if I download an updated version of an application and drop it into the applications folder, overwriting the old version, that new application gets put into “App Translocation” mode, which prevents it from being able to load or run any of its pre-existing system files/data.

    As I said, step 4 from this post solves that “App Translocation” issue. I’ve used it twice now since getting the most recent MacOS update.

    Thank you!

  24. Ahmed Arafat says:

    xattr -cr

  25. Marie says:

    The xattr command fixed the problem for me. Thanks a lot!

  26. most says:

    Thank you so much for the terminal method
    sudo xattr -cr “/Applications/App”
    is really helpful

    also, you can copy this to terminal
    xattr -cr
    then go to the Applications folder and drag the application to the terminal and it will add the rest naming automatically and then press enter

    • Judah Braun says:


    • G Prof says:

      This is a very useful comment!! somehow the author didn’t mention this.

      • NN says:

        This method is covered prominently in the article as one of the troubleshooting steps for resolving ‘app can’t be opened’ errors

        sudo xattr -cr “/Applications/App”

      • ChrisA says:

        You are such an ungrateful piece of sh**, G Prof. “Somehow the author didn’t mention this” – i imagine this single article has contributed more to the world than you will achieve in your lifetime. GG buddy.

    • Soft says:

      This is the dopest way around the path, thank you very much it worked for me after i was entering the wrong file extension…

    • Cat says:

      Thank you for the comment because copy&paste of the app name didn’t worked for me, don’t know why.

      • Medley says:

        SAME! I did the copy&paste thing and typing in the name of the app but nothing worked except dragging it holy !! thanks!

  27. T.N.Olsthoorn says:

    Worked for me

    Occurred on my new Macbook Pro 16′, after the backup of my old Macbook pro was restored using MigrationAssistent. Very irritating. After using xattr -cr file problem was solved.

    Thank you very much.

  28. Steve says:

    xattr -cr worked for me.

    I have run into this problem 1,000 times and always got by with a re-download and/or reboot.

    You have just saved me hours of my life moving forward. Thank you for that.

  29. otoinsa says:

    Thanks! Xattr command worked out perfect for me! :)

    Before that I could not understand – why the app is running from another drive, but when I copied over to /Applications it suddenly got damaged… some strange macOS action going on.

  30. Reza says:

    The xattr Command worked for me
    Thanks from Perisa

  31. Dave Bates says:

    Thanks for the xattr trick! It fixed it so nicely!

  32. Tiffany says:

    sudo xattr -cr “/Applications/App”

    Worked for me! Thanks guys!

  33. Daniel says:

    sudo spctl –master-disable

  34. ASentientBot says:

    I made an applet to do this with cp -RX a couple months ago.

  35. Juan says:

    Use Onyx. Click on Parameters > Misc. Click the box that says Turn off Gatekeeper, launch the app in question (an Option or two finger click may be required) then uncheck the box and quit Onyx.

    • Javier Gallardo Vía says:

      Thank you!
      I use Onyx and supposed it provided a way to do this, but didn’t find the thing. (In fact, I had to look in the web to use the Terminal command and used it).
      I’m quite reluctant to get into Terminal (lots like me, for sure). Onyx is wonderful for all this fiddling with system.

  36. Carlos says:

    This one works for me ALWAYS.
    Open terminal, then run:
    sudo spctl –master-disable
    This command overrides System Preferences, Security and Privacy, General tab default settings.
    Run the application (only if you are 110% sure it is legit) once.
    Then run this following command:
    sudo spctl –master-enable
    To go back to the default settings in Security and Privacy.
    Hope this helps.

  37. Toodles says:

    I hit this in macOS with new apps sometimes, not sure why.

    This works for me:

    sudo xattr -cr "/Applications/App"

    The parenthesis are only necessary if there is a space in the application name.

    But, if an app says it’s damaged,,,, perhaps listen to that. Was it corrupted during download? Modified by something or someone? Intercepted with Man-in-the-Middle attack? All worth thinking about…. from security standpoint.


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