How to Fix Apps Cannot Be Opened Due to Unidentified Developer on Mac

It’s happened to most of us at one time or another. You download a new application that you can’t wait to try. The excitement builds as you get ready to start the app, and then, as you click on it, you see the message saying that it can’t be opened due to an unidentified developer.

This can be highly frustrating, especially when you know the app is from a trusted source. Thankfully, there is a way around this. You can override the Unidentified Developer safety measure on your Mac using the admin password; just make sure you trust the application’s source.

My name is Eric, and as a software engineer for over 25 years, I know that this is a safety measure that Apple uses to help prevent viruses and malware. I get it. Many legitimate developers out there cannot get registered, and their apps often face this problem.

Keep reading below if you would like to see how to get around this safety measure when you know that the software is legitimate and safe. We will also discuss why Apple does this and why some developers and their apps are unidentified.

Use Caution

Before I show you how to do this, let me give a word of caution. Identifying the developer of applications is an important security feature of macOS, and I will discuss why later.

If you override this security feature, make sure that you trust the maker or developer of the application and that you are downloading it from a legitimate source. Don’t just install an application that you have a link to from some random email or website. 

Do your research first and ensure that you are installing an app that is both trusted and from a legitimate provider.

Quickest Way to Open Apps With Unidentified Developer

The macOS security measure we have discussed above can be frustrating, but as we know, it is meant to keep our system safe. Once you have verified that the application you wish to open can be trusted, getting the app up and running is fairly easy. You just need to override the security measure.

When you first try to open the application, you probably see something similar to the image below.

Your only two choices are to Eject the Disk Image or Cancel. For now, the best action is to just cancel. We’ll come back and try opening it using the context menu, which will provide us with a third option: to open the application.

To open the application using the context menu, use the following steps.

Step 1: Go to the location where your application is saved.

Step 2: Right-click (or CONTROL+click) on the application to bring up the context menu.

Step 3: Click on Open in the context menu as shown below.

Once you click on open in the context menu, it will open a pop-up window similar to the one when you tried to open it the first time, but this window will have an option to open the application, as shown below.

Notice that this pop-up window also has a message warning you about opening unknown applications. If you feel comfortable with the application, click on the Open button to open it. You will then be prompted for your password. 

Once you have entered the password, the application will open. From here on, you will no longer need to open the application this way. Your macOS will remember that you have approved it and will continue to open it as normal unless you uninstall and reinstall the application.

Why Does macOS Try to Prevent Installation of Applications from Unknown Developers?

As mentioned above, the prevention of opening applications from unknown developers is a security feature or measure that Apple has long implemented. This feature is known as Gatekeeper, and its goal is to prevent viruses and malware from getting onto your system.

Apple has a list of registered developers that it trusts. Most of these are applications available in the App Store, but some are not. If you are not on Apple’s list of registered developers, then your applications will not automatically be allowed to open.

The security feature makes sense, as unknown developers could put almost anything they want in an application. If you are on a registered list, your app can be traced back to you if you have created some malicious software, so you are less likely to do so.

Some legitimate developers, who have no ill intent, have not taken the time or are not able to get on Apple’s list of developers, so thankfully, there is a way to bypass the security when you have an application that you know is safe.


Below are a few questions that often arise when discussing how to open applications without an identified developer.

Can I Disable this security feature for all applications?

In older Mac systems, you can turn off this security feature by going to System Settings, Privacy and Security, and Applications. There, you will find the setting that you can turn off.  Recent versions of macOS do not allow you to turn this off.

Why Does my system only allow apps from the App Store to be installed and run?

Your system is probably set to only allow Applications downloaded from the App Store. You can change this by going to System Settings, then Privacy & Security, and then scroll down until you see Security.  Click on the setting marked App Store and identified developers.

Does this security feature have a name? Where can I find more information about it?

As mentioned briefly above, this security feature, which will not allow you to open applications from unidentified developers, is called Gatekeeper. You can find more information about Gatekeeper and how it works from Apple support.


Not being able to run applications from unidentified developers can be a real pain, but this is a security measure called Gatekeeper, which has been implemented by Apple to help prevent viruses and malicious software.

This security measure can be easily overridden by using the context menu to start up the application, as shown above. Just ensure that you trust and verify that the application you are trying to run is safe and legitimate.

The information provided above can help you to get your application running. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.

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