Beginning with macOS Sierra, and continuing in macOS High Sierra, Apple tightened up security, especially in the area of apps you can and can’t install on the system. Gatekeeper, as it’s called, prevents you from installing apps from anywhere but the App Store or the App Store and Signed Developers. Today, I will show you how to disable this feature so you can install apps from virtually anywhere on your MacBook.
Why The Change?
Before I get into how to disable it, I first wanted to discuss why Apple has set it up this way. Now, in the past, you had three choices:
- App Store
- App Store and Identified Developers
But beginning with macOS Sierra, things changed. On new Macs and even Macs that were updated, the last choice, “Anywhere”, was suddenly gone. Now why would Apple want to limit this feature on their machines? While there hasn’t been much in official word on this change. I believe they did it for a few reasons:
1. Security – One nice thing about limiting a user’s ability to install software to official channels is you can drastically increase the security of the system. Since users can’t install software from almost anywhere from unknown developers, you really can ramp up your security as you know what’s in every piece of software that is installed on the system.
2. Software Control – Anyone who has ever used a Mac or an i-Device of any kind is already very familiar with how much Apple likes to control the computing environment. This is both good and bad, and I’m not going to get into that debate today, we will save that for a future post. But I will say thing – since Apple likes to control the environment, why would they bother giving you the ability to install software from anywhere on the Internet?
3. Money – Apple has a financial incentive to limit the locations of software on your Mac. Ideally, they want you to buy your software from their App Store, that way they get a cut of everything that’s been sold. If you can download the same software elsewhere, they could potentially be losing a nice source of passive income, and Apple can’t have that!
How to Disable GateKeeper
Despite the default settings being severely limited, you can easily remedy this on your MacBook, even if you are running the latest versions of macOS. Now a quick Google search will show you ways to do it that involve installing software, which I think is just ridiculous, as you can accomplish the same things with just a few key presses in the built-in Terminal application. Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal and double click on the icon.
2. In the terminal, enter the following command:
sudo spctl –master-disable
3. Relaunch preferences by going to Apple > Preferences > Security & Privacy.
4. You should now see the choice “Anywhere” in your list. Unlock your preferences and click on that box so you never get hassled about installing software ever again.
A Word of Warning
While Macs are considerably more secure than their PC counterparts, they are far from immune to viruses and malware despite what Apple wants you to believe. That means that there are threats out there, and they could be hiding in some third party software from an unknown developer. I say that to tell you to be careful when you download apps. Just because they aren’t an official identified developer with Apple doesn’t mean they are up to no good, and most of them are just fine, but I promise you that the bad software will only be found from an unidentified developer. So be careful and make sure you know what you are downloading before you do it.
Disabling Gatekeeper so you can install whatever apps you want isn’t difficult, and can be done in just about a minute. But on macOS Sierra and High Sierra, you have to know what you’re doing to turn it off. And now you do, and as G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.”
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.