It is very common to download and install apps from internet on Windows PC or laptop. However, it’s not a good idea on Mac to install third-party apps to protect your computer. Though the best way is to install apps from Mac App Store it has few problems. First, many people confuse iOS App Store with Mac App Store – they are two different stores. Second, there are only few apps available in Mac App Store that will not cater your requirements. This makes you to look for apps from third-party websites. However, you need to make some settings in order for the third-party apps to work on your Mac.
How Mac Checks Third-party Apps?
Generally, you can download .dmg or .pkg or plugin files and install on your Mac. Apple checks the following when you install app from the third-party websites:
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- Check it is a trusted software using Gatekeeper technology.
- Verify the identity of the developer using Developer ID in the installer package.
- macOS Catalina also needs the developer to notarize the apps for trustworthy.
Most of the third-party apps will fail at the identification or notarization part leading to prevention of usage on Mac. In most case, you may be using it for long time, and it is not quite easy to inform the developer to update the app.
Third-party Apps Errors in Mac
Mac settings allow you to choose only install apps from App Store or allow apps from identified developers. You will get different error depending upon this setting. When you allow third-party apps in settings, Mac will not stop installing or updating the apps without developer ID and notarization. It will only stop when you open the installed app. This will make an app unusable with an update in the latest macOS. You will get the error like below mentioning, “App can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software”.
You will see an error, “App can’t be opened because it was not downloaded from App Store” when you have setting that does not allow apps outside App Store.
In all cases, the error message will show how did you download the app with no option to open.
How to Open the Blocked Apps?
Now that you have multiple options to open the app.
1. Allow Apps from Outside App Store
If you have blocked the third-party apps then ensure you allow in in the settings.
- Click on the “Apple” menu and choose “System Preferences…” option.
- Look for “Security & Privacy” option and click on it.
- If the screen is locked for edit, click on the padlock icon and unlock the screen by using your admin login. You will see two options under “Allow apps downloaded from:” – “App Store” and “App Store and identified developers”.
- In order to allow the third-party apps, select the option “App Store and identified developers”.
Henceforth, Mac will show an open button when you try to access an app downloaded from internet.
2. Use Open Anyway After Blocking
In macOS Catalina and Mojave, you will see the last attempt of blocking the app with an option to “Open Anyway” button. Click on the “Open Anyway” button to access the app.
Now you can open the app and confirm the access by clicking on “Open” button.
3. Open the App with Right-Click
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You can also access the app without going to settings. When you get the error message, click on the “Show in Finder” button. Alternatively, open “Finder” and go to “Applications” folder to locate the app. Control click or right click on the application file and choose “Open” option.
You will get the same error message for malicious software checking like below. However, this time you will see an additional “Open” button.
Click on the “Open” button to access the app.
When Mac is certain about the malicious software, it will show “App will damage your computer. You should move it to the Trash”. In this case, ensure to move the app to trash and clean up the Trash instead of trying to open. Only open the apps that you are sure and using it previously. It is also good idea to report the issue to the developer to update the app for the latest macOS Catalina version.
The safest place to get apps for your Mac is the App Store. Apple reviews each app in the App Store before it’s accepted and signs it to ensure that it hasn’t been tampered with or altered. If there’s ever a problem with an app, Apple can quickly remove it from the store.
If you download and install apps from the internet or directly from a developer, macOS continues to protect your Mac. When you install Mac apps, plug-ins, and installer packages from outside the App Store, macOS checks the Developer ID signature to verify that the software is from an identified developer and that it has not been altered. By default, macOS Catalina also requires software to be notarized, so you can be confident that the software you run on your Mac doesn't contain known malware. Before opening downloaded software for the first time, macOS requests your approval to make sure you aren’t misled into running software you didn’t expect.
Running software that hasn’t been signed and notarized may expose your computer and personal information to malware that can harm your Mac or compromise your privacy.
View the app security settings on your Mac
By default, the security and privacy preferences of your Mac are set to allow apps from the App Store and identified developers. For additional security, you can chose to allow only apps from the App Store.
In System Preferences, click Security & Privacy, then click General. Click the lock and enter your password to make changes. Select App Store under the header “Allow apps downloaded from.”
Open a developer-signed or notarized app
If your Mac is set to allow apps from the App Store and identified developers, the first time that you launch a new app, your Mac asks if you’re sure you want to open it.
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An app that has been notarized by Apple indicates that Apple checked it for malicious software and none was detected:
Prior to macOS Catalina, opening an app that hasn't been notarized shows a yellow warning icon and asks if you're sure you want to open it:
If you see a warning message and can’t install an app
If you have set your Mac to allow apps only from the App Store and you try to install an app from elsewhere, your Mac will say that the app can't be opened because it was not downloaded from the App Store.*
If your Mac is set to allow apps from the App Store and identified developers, and you try to install an app that isn’t signed by an identified developer or—in macOS Catalina—notarized by Apple, you also see a warning that the app cannot be opened.
If you see this warning, it means that the app was not notarized, and Apple could not scan the app for known malicious software.
You may want to look for an updated version of the app in the App Store or look for an alternative app.
If macOS detects a malicious app
If macOS detects that an app has malicious content, it will notify you when you try to open it and ask you to move it to the Trash.
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How to open an app that hasn’t been notarized or is from an unidentified developer
Running software that hasn’t been signed and notarized may expose your computer and personal information to malware that can harm your Mac or compromise your privacy. If you’re certain that an app you want to install is from a trustworthy source and hasn’t been tampered with, you can temporarily override your Mac security settings to open it.
In macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave, when an app fails to install because it hasn’t been notarized or is from an unidentified developer, it will appear in System Preferences > Security & Privacy, under the General tab. Click Open Anyway to confirm your intent to open or install the app.
The warning prompt reappears, and you can click Open.*
The app is now saved as an exception to your security settings, and you can open it in the future by double-clicking it, just as you can any authorized app.
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*If you're prompted to open Finder: control-click the app in Finder, choose Open from the menu, and then click Open in the dialog that appears. Enter your admin name and password to open the app.