Gatekeeper, first introduced in OS X Mountain Lion, is a Mac security feature which prevents the user from launching potentially harmful applications. In macOS Sierra, however, Apple made some important changes to Gatekeeper that seemingly limit the choices of power users. But don’t worry, Gatekeeper can still be disabled in Sierra. Here’s how.
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
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.
Thankfully, the “Anywhere” setting can be restored to Gatekeeper in Sierra with a Terminal command. First, quit System Preferences if it’s open and then open a new Terminal window. Enter the following command, followed by your admin password when prompted:
sudo spctl --master-disable
Now, relaunch System Preferences and head back to the Gatekeeper settings. You’ll now see that “Anywhere” has been restored. 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.
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:
To temporarily bypass Gatekeeper, right-click (or Control-click) on the app’s icon and select Open.
You’ll still receive an alert message, but this time it’s only a warning. Clicking Open again will launch the app.
Restore Sierra Gatekeeper Settings to Default
If you’ve enabled the “Anywhere” option by using the Terminal command above and later want to remove it, you can head back to Terminal and run this command instead:
sudo spctl --master-enable
This way, you can ensure better security for any new users of the Mac.