Gatekeeper, first introduced in OS X Mountain Lion, is a Mac security feature that helps protect your Mac from malware and other malicious software. Gatekeeper checks to make sure the application is safe to run by checking it against the list of apps that Apple has vetted and approved for the Apple Mac Store and/or approved by Apple even if not offered through the app store.
These are the three Gatekeeper options:
- App Store
- App Store and Identified Developers
In macOS Sierra, however, Apple made some important changes to Gatekeeper that seemingly limit the choices of power users who want to download and use the software beyond the list of apps officially approved by Apple. While these changes are likely meant to further improve the security Macs are known for, they do put constraints on what you can do with your Mac.
But don’t worry, Gatekeeper settings can still be changed in macOS Sierra to allow you access to software that’s not officially approved by Apple.
Keep in mind, though, that users who disable Gatekeeper protection do so at their own risk as you have to be an experienced Mac user to avoid malware and other malicious software. Macs are largely known for being much more secure than Windows computers, but that’s not necessarily the case if you get rid of your Mac’s built-in security features.
With that being said, if you do want to disable Gatekeeper, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at how you can disable this feature in Sierra so that you can use a wider range of applications.
Adjust the Gatekeeper Settings
Traditionally, Gatekeeper offered three settings of increasing security: anywhere, App Store and identified developers, and App Store only. The first choice, as its name describes, allowed users to launch applications from any source, effectively disabling the Gatekeeper feature.
The second choice allowed users to run apps from the Mac App Store as well as from software developers who have registered with Apple and securely sign their applications. Finally, the most secure setting limited users to running apps obtained from the Mac App Store only.
While the secure options were good ideas for less experienced Mac users, power users found Gatekeeper to be too limiting and typically sought to disable it by setting it to “Anywhere.“
In macOS Sierra, however, the “Anywhere” option is gone, leaving “App Store” and “App Store and identified developers” as the only two options.
Disable Gatekeeper in macOS Sierra from Terminal using a command
The Gatekeeper settings can be found in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. The Gatekeeper options are located beneath “All apps downloaded from:” with the choice of “Anywhere” missing. With the “Anywhere” option missing, many Mac users thought that Apple had completely taken away the “Anywhere” option.
Thankfully, Apple didn’t turn off the ability to change the Gatekeeper setting to “Anywhere” it just started requiring users to do it from the terminal with a command, which was a way for Apple to ensure that only macOS power users would likely change the Gatekeeper setting to “Anywhere.” For the most part, only macOS power users know how to use the terminal.
To disable Gatekeeper (i.e., set it to “Anywhere”) from the command line, open a new Terminal window then enter the following command:
$ sudo spctl --master-disable
Since you’re using “sudo” you’ll be prompted for your Mac’s root (admin) password. Enter your root password and the command will change the Gatekeeper setting to “Anywhere.”.
If you want to confirm that the Gatekeeper setting has been changed to “Anywhere,” you can launch System Preferences and check the Gatekeeper “Allow apps downloaded from” setting. You’ll now see that “Anywhere” is the Gatekeeper setting.
Click the padlock in the lower-left corner to enter your password and make changes, then select “Anywhere” from the list of Gatekeeper options. The security feature will no longer bug you about apps from unidentified developers.
You’ll also notice that since you ran the command to change Gatekeeper’s “Allow Apps downloaded from” option to Anywhere that option is now listed in the interface as shown in the screenshot below.
Temporarily Bypass Gatekeeper
Despite its potentially frustrating limitations, Gatekeeper is indeed an important security feature that can prevent you from accidentally launching malicious applications. If you prefer to leave Gatekeeper enabled but still need to occasionally run an app from an unidentified developer, you can temporarily bypass Gatekeeper by opening the app from the right-click context menu.
To illustrate, when you attempt to open an app from an unidentified developer while Gatekeeper is enabled, you’ll receive the following alert telling you the app can’t be launched:
Restore Sierra Gatekeeper Settings to Default
If you’ve enabled the “Anywhere” option by using the Terminal command above and later want to reverse it, you can head back to Terminal and run this command:
$ sudo spctl --master-enable
This command reverses the
spctl --master-disable command that you ran to set Gatekeeper’s “Allow app downloads from” setting to “Anywhere.”
Gatekeeper is a very strong security feature that is meant to protect your Mac from malware and otherwise harmful software. However, while it does offer great protection, it can be very restricting for power users.
Fortunately, there’s a way around this. By following the instructions outlined in this article, you can easily disable Gatekeeper and unleash the power of your Mac.
If you found this article useful, you might want to check out How to Run Mac Software Update via the Terminal.
Also, be sure to take a look at our piece on How to Install MacOS / OSX on a Chromebook.
Have you set Gatekeepers’ “Download apps from” setting to “Anywhere” before? How did you do it? Please leave a comment below.