What happened to the Gatekeeper setting that let me open apps from anywhere? It's not gone, it's just hidden.

Apple's security system, Gatekeeper, has a feature that restricts the type of apps that can be downloaded onto a Mac. By default, Gatekeeper only allows you to download apps from the App Store. You can change the settings to allow downloads from the App Store and from identified developers, which are developers that have at some point registered with Apple.

It used to be that you could change the Gatekeeper settings to allow apps downloaded from anywhere, but Apple removed that option in macOS Sierra. So, now, you have to allow app downloads on an individual basis by confirming your permission when you try to open one.

There is a way to get back to Gatekeeper's previous settings, which allow you to download apps from anywhere, by using a terminal trick, which we'll show you in a minute.

But first!

How to open an app from an unidentified developer

You can run apps that you've downloaded directly from the internet that aren't registered with Apple. You just have to give the OK.

  1. After downloading an app from an unidentified developer, drag it to the Applications folder.

    Drag the new app into the Applications folder

  2. Select the app and right or control-click.
  3. Click on Open.
  4. Click on Open again to confirm you want to complete the action.

    Select the app, then right or control click, then click Open

Opening an app from unidentified developer with a right or control-click overrides Gatekeeper for that specific app. From now on, you'll always be able to open it without having to go through the process again.

How to reinstate the Anywhere setting in Gatekeeper

If the thought of having to right or control-click to open apps from unidentified developers seems arduous and tiresome, you can turn back time with Gatekeeper and bring back the ability to open apps from anywhere. All it takes is a bit of coding in Terminal.

  1. Close System Preferences on your Mac.
  2. Open Terminal.
  3. Type the following command:

    sudo spctl --master-disable

  4. Hit enter on your keyboard.

  5. Enter your administrator password.
  6. Hit enter on your keyboard.

    Disable Gatekeeper in Terminal with sudo spctl --master-disable

Gatekeeper's "Anywhere" setting will now be restored. It will also be selected by default. You can confirm the changes by opening System Preferences and selecting Security & Privacy.

The Anywhere setting in Gatekeeper

If you ever want to enable the macOS Sierra Gatekeeper settings again, type sudo spctl --master-enable into Terminal.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about opening apps from unidentified developers, or reinstating OS X Gatekeeper settings? Let me know and I'll help you out.