The right way to Fully Disable Gatekeeper in macOS

If you've ever downloaded a Mac application from anywhere other than the App Store, you've likely come across Apple's Gatekeeper. In previous versions of macOS, you had the option to effectively disable this security measure and download apps from anywhere, but this setting will no longer appear by default.

However, you can restore this legacy functionality with a Terminal command. Let's see how to completely disable Gatekeeper in later versions of macOS.

Why gatekeeper matters

The first time you launch an app downloaded outside the App Store, Gatekeeper will either warn you or prevent that application from opening. Once the developer has checked the file from Apple and notarized it, you can start the software without any problems. However, if macOS can't confirm that the app is malware free, Gatekeeper steps in to prevent you from opening it.

This useful security measure prevents you from unknowingly launching malicious software and you can usually bypass the bouncer if necessary. For most of us, the standard Gatekeeper workaround methods are effective, but you may want a little more flexibility in your settings.


Related: What Is GateKeeper and How Does It Protect My Mac?

Tinkering with Apple's built-in security features can be risky, and most of us will never need to make drastic changes. But that doesn't mean you will never need it. While we don't recommend disabling Gatekeeper in macOS, below we'll show you how to do it.

Deactivate gatekeeper with terminal

To revert to the legacy setting that allows you to completely disable Gatekeeper, you need to run a command in terminal Terminal is the command line interface of macOS and is easy to use once you're familiar with how Terminal works.

To disable Gatekeeper, do the following:

  1. begin terminal from Applications > Utilities.

  2. Enter the following command: sudo spctl –master-disable

  3. Blow Enter and enter your admin password.

  4. Blow Enter again.

Now the Somewhere Option should be available under Allow from downloaded apps Section of System settings > safety > Generally. From here you can change the setting at any time to relax or strengthen gatekeeper security. Remember, however, that bypassing any of the macOS built-in security measures comes with risks.

Activate gatekeeper with terminal

If you want to undo the change and re-enable Gatekeeper, you can do so again with a simple Terminal command.

To enable Gatekeeper, do the following:

  1. begin terminal from Applications > Utilities.

  2. Enter the following command: sudo spctl –master-enable

  3. Blow Enter and enter your admin password if necessary.

  4. Blow Enter again.

Related: Funny and Cool Mac Terminal Commands to Try

the Somewhere Option in System settings > safety > Generally should not be available now and only the default gatekeeper settings are displayed.

Check the gatekeeper status with the terminal

If you are unsure of the current status of Gatekeeper and want to verify that the changes you want have been made, you can use another Terminal command to do so.

To check the gatekeeper status, do the following:

  1. begin terminal from Applications > Utilities.

  2. Enter the following command: spctl –status

  3. Press Enter.

As soon as you enter the command, Terminal outputs the current gatekeeper status. Check however System settings > safety > Generally is usually the easiest way to confirm your settings. If the Somewhere absent, you know that gatekeeper is fully enabled, which for most of us is the ideal requirement.

Security measures in macOS are important

While you can turn off some of the macOS built-in security tools, you rarely need to do so. With simple terminal commands you can restore the old Gatekeeper setting, fully reactivate the function and check the status at any time.

Apple's built-in security measures help with this, but sometimes too many restrictions can stifle. Whenever there is an important security feature that you want to disable, the first thing to do is to try to understand the tool you are tinkering with and the possible ramifications that come with it. But once you know the location of the country, the informed decision is entirely yours.

5 important security features of your Mac

Have you ever wondered what your Mac is doing to keep your data safe? Here are the main macOS built-in security features that you should use to protect your system.

Continue reading

About the author

Matt Moore
(35 published articles)

Matt is an Australian freelance writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Before his studies he worked in technical support and gained valuable insights into the technology and its users. His real passion is storytelling and he hopes one day he will be able to write a well-published novel.

By Matt Moore

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive deals!

Click here to subscribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *