How to open applications created by unidentified developer?

Encountering error message stating application can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer, how to fix?

Apple products, such as Mac computers and mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, etc.), are generally known to be secure and stable devices. This is one of the main advantages of these products as compared to other operating systems or manufacturers. This high level of protection might also impose some restrictions. An example is attempting to install or launch an application on a Mac computer that was developed by unidentified developer.

Due to a built-in security tool that checks the identity of application developers, installation or launch of this type of software becomes impossible - an error message appears stating that the application cannot be opened because it is from an unidentified developer. This situation is caused by a built-in tool called Gatekeeper, however, Apple also provide options to access these apps manually. Bear in mind, that many applications developed by unidentified programmers hide malware or other types of viruses, so by installing or launching these applications, your computer is at risk of infection. If, however, you are confident that the application you are trying to access is safe, follow the guide below where we describe various methods to install or launch applications created by unidentified developers.


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Open an application created by unidentified developer

If you have a trusted application from an unidentified developer, but cannot access it due to Gatekeeper, this method describes how to grant access to it. Begin by entering the actions menu, hold down the Control key on the keyboard and click the icon (or simply right-click it), and then choose Open from the list. A warning message asking to confirm your actions will appear - this is to ensure you wish to open an application created by an unidentified developer. Click open. Your application will start in the usual way. Following this path, you can open all applications created by unidentified developers, however, bear in mind that you will also be increasing the chance of Mac infection.


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Allow access to all applications created by an unidentified developer

If you are confident about your security and seeking to access all applications by an unidentified developer, this step shows how to disable Gatekeeper on the Mac. To begin, open Mac System Preferences by clicking on Apple logo the menu bar at top of your screen, and then selecting System Preferences. Open the Security & Privacy pane and choose the General tab. Click the lock icon in the bottom left corner of the window to grant access to adjust preferences. Locate the 'Allow applications downloaded from' option and select the last option named 'Anywhere'. A new warning message will pop up - select Allow From Anywhere. From this point, the Mac's Gatekeeper will stop blocking applications created by unidentified developers.


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Allow apps from anywhere on macOS Sierra

The release of the macOS Sierra built-in protection tool called Gatekeeper resulted in more restrictions in the way applications created by unidentified developers are accessed. The 'allow from anywhere' option is hidden by default, however, the built-in command line application can easily resolve this issue.


To start, close System Preferences and open Terminal via Spotlight by pressing the keyboard shortcut of Command and Spacebar, Then type Terminal and press return, or go to Applications, and then Utilities folder via Finder. Once Terminal launches, type the following command and press return.

  • sudo spctl --master-disable

The command line will ask you to confirm your actions with an administrator account password (since sudo uses super user permissions).


Open Mac System Preferences, choose the Security & Privacy pane, and select the General tab. Click the lock in the bottom left corner of the window - you will then see an Anywhere option beneath the 'Allow apps downloaded from' line. Select this option and agree with all warning messages. From this point, you will be able to launch applications created by unidentified developers, however, as mentioned above, express caution when opening this type of application. If your computer is used by a number of different users, leaving this option enabled is not recommended.


To revert the changes and re-enable the built-in Gatekeeper tool, disable the Anywhere option by selecting one of the other two: 'App Store' or 'App Store and identified developers'. If you wish to return everything to the default state, simply open Terminal, type the following command, and press Return.

  • sudo spctl --master-enable

You will be asked to confirm your actions with an administrator password.

Video Showing how to open applications from unidentified developers on a Mac

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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