How to Install the MacOS Apps Apple Doesn't Want You To

Apple eventually hid the option to install some types of untrusted software. Here's how to bring it back.

Joseph Kaminski Senior Associate Technology Editor / Reviews
When not juggling the dual demands of parenthood and playing basketball, Joseph is a life-long Manhattanite who can be found testing the latest tech in the CNET Labs and developing new benchmarks and testing methodologies.
Joseph Kaminski
3 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET
CNET Tech Tips logo

Apple is big on privacy and protection, and this has always included keeping malware and viruses away from MacOS desktops and laptops. Installing apps from Apple's own Mac App Store is one way to minimize your risk, but not everything you might want is available there. It's also easy to install software directly downloaded from one of Apple's "identified" developers (its term), although there's also a settings menu for turning that ability off and on. 

But you may come across an application that Apple doesn't consider to be from an identified developer that you'd like to install on your Mac. That's where it gets tricky. MacOS comes with a feature called Gatekeeper. It helps protect Macs from applications that could adversely affect system stability. Gatekeeper verifies downloaded applications before allowing them to run. By default, if you're trying to install an application not recognized by Gatekeeper, it won't install.

Watch this: How to install apps from outside the Mac App Store

Up until MacOS Monterrey, there used to be an option in settings that let you bypass Gatekeeper and install unrecognized applications. Besides allowing apps from the App Store and identified developers, a third option was Anywhere, and meant exactly that. Install any compatible software from anywhere online and take your chances. 

But since MacOS Monterrey, that Anywhere option is gone. You can still do it, but it requires a couple of nonobvious extra steps. 

First open up System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. Click on the lock icon on the bottom left of the page (it reads: "Click the lock to make changes"). You'll have to enter your system password. Then check the box that says App Store and identified developers if it's not already checked. 

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

Now, if you go to install a downloaded app (usually a .dmg file) and get a message that reads: "[This program] cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified," here's what you do. Go back to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General. You will now see a new option on the page that asks if you want to open the app anyway. Click that, and you should be good to go. 

That said, be cautious about installing any unverified software on your computer, please. 

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

The steps are slightly different for MacOS Ventura's new settings interface. However, if you've upgraded from MacOS Monterey to Ventura and this setting was already enabled, it still will be in Ventura. 

Click the Apple logo at the top left and select System Settings.

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

Next click on Privacy & Security. Scroll down to the Security section. From there, select App Store and identified developers.

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

You must enter your Mac's login password or, if you own one, you can use an Apple Watch to unlock settings and proceed. 

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

When launching the unidentified app, you will receive a message saying it cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified. There will be two options, Move to Trash or Cancel

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

Select Cancel, and go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Security section, and you will now see an option for App Store and identified developers with the app you're trying to install and a button to open anyway. 

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

When installing third-party applications, you could be compromising your System's stability. With that said, click Open anyway. You will receive a warning message with the option to open. Click Open and you're done. 

Screenshot by Joseph Kaminski/CNET

Read moreBest MacBook Deals Right Now