As a technology consultant, I’m constantly researching and installing Mac OS X software applications in my never-ending pursuit of increased productivity. Apple’s App Store makes this process easy and safe. But sometimes the apps I want to install are not in the App Store and are only available as direct downloads from the Internet.

With OS X v10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple introduced Gatekeeper, which added safeguards to prevent malware and misbehaving apps from messing up your system. This security feature was also added to OS X Lion v10.7.5.

The default Gatekeeper security setting in System Preferences > Security & Privacy blocks the installation of non-conforming applications. Here’s the default setting:

Mac OS X app download settings

If you attempt to open an application that is not from the Mac App Store or from an “identified developer,” you’ll be stopped with this error message:

Prevented from opening unidentified Mac application

However, I often wish to override this security setting if I’m confident a freshly downloaded application is safe. Rather than permanently turning off this safeguard, I get around it on as-needed basis. Here’s the simple method:

  1. Right-click (Control-click) on the application icon.
  2. Select Open from the pop-up menu
    Right-click on application icon
  3. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to open it, since it’s flagged as being from an “unidentified developer.” If you’re sure it’s okay, go ahead and click the Open button.Confirm it's okay to safely open this app


That’s it. The application will immediately open – and it will also open on subsequent launches without any warnings.