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How to open third-party applications from unidentified developers in macOS

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Apple has an integrated way to protect you from opening potentially malicious applications on your computer in Mac OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and macOS Sierra.

This configuration, called Gatekeeper, will never prevent you from installing applications from the Mac App Store, but you can do it from anywhere else. If it is an application that you are sure you want to install on your system, here is how to do it.

Gatekeeper options selection

Open your System Preferences and go to Security and Privacy.

In the General tab, see a section called Allow application downloads. To change this setting, you must click on the lock icon below and enter your administrator password. Once that is out of the way, you can choose between three options:

  • Mac App Store
  • Mac App Store and developers identified
  • Anywhere

# 1: Only the Mac App Store

The safest option to choose here will be the Mac App Store, since Apple reviews all the applications that are accepted in your store and can quickly remove them if necessary. Basically, you will know that your Mac will be as free of malware as possible if you use this option only.

# 2: Mac App Store and trusted developers

The following option also relies on identified developer applications, which are basically developers with a unique Apple developer ID that have their applications digitally signed.

This is the option I use, since Apple can verify that there has been no manipulation of the applications since they were signed.

# 3: Apps from anywhere

The last option, Anywhere, obviously eliminates the Gatekeeper blocking capabilities on your Mac, allowing you to install and open any application outside the Internet, including Automator applications made by individuals.

Sometimes these things have malware, so I would recommend using the option of identified developers and a good installation of applications that do not have a developer ID on a case-by-case basis.

Trust applications on a case-by-case basis

If you have selected the Mac App Store option and identified developers, whenever you download an application without a developer ID and try to open it, you will receive the following warning.