Here’s to the crazy ones. The rebels. The ones who want to install whatever freaking software they want on their own Macs. Since Mountain Lion, however, those people know what part of the world they want to change: their Mac itself. Certain programs won’t load anymore – a message about Unidentified Developers shows up instead. There isn’t even an obvious option to run the app. Will your favorite programs ever run again? And what is this crap, anyway?
To answer you’re first question: yes. You can get all of your apps running again without much difficultly, so keep reading for that. To answer your second question: what you’re seeing is called GateKeeper, and it’s one of the new features of Mountain Lion (and later versions of Lion). The key idea is security – apps from third parties could contain malware. Gatekeeper is stopping you from using your own apps for your own protection.
“The safest and most reliable place to download and install apps is via the Mac App Store,” so says Apple on a support page about Gatekeeper “Apple reviews each app before it’s accepted by the store, and if there’s ever a problem with an app, Apple can quickly remove it from the store.”
Gatekeeper just might be the worst of the iOSification of OS X . Then again, it offers less advanced users some peace of mind. For now, users don’t need to jailbreak their Mac to run unapproved software – they need only know a few tricks.
Why Can’t I Open My Apps Anymore?
So what’s the big deal? To demonstrate, I downloaded Super Mario War , mostly because I knew this fan-made-16-bit-style-stomp-off predates Apple’s Gatekeeper. When I tried to run the software, I saw this message:
Confusion. Anger. Betrayal. These are a few of the emotions you might feel as you gaze at your screen, wondering why an app you’ve long loved is now cut off from you. Messages like this show up by default in Mountain Lion anytime you try to run an app compiled by someone without a developer’s license – including most open source games.
On the other hand, most malware on Windows comes from users installing insecure software. Gatekeeper being installed by default should, in theory, deter this by making it a bit of work for users to run corrupted software. And software by licensed developers should generally be trustworthy, as Apple can revoke the license of people who prove untrustworthy.
To put it simple, GateKeeper blocks apps written without a license from running on your Mac, potentially protecting you from your own stupidity. If you regularly install software from untrustworthy sources, it’s probably a worthwhile protection to leave on. If you’re generally smart, it’s probably more annoying than anything else.
So… is there a workaround? I’m glad you asked.
Workaround 1: Control-Click
The simplest way to open your App is to Control-Click (or right-click) it. You’ll see this menu:
Click “Open” and you’ll see a window not entirely unlike the one you saw before – but with more buttons.
How is the user supposed to know about this? Good question! I’ve no idea.
Anyway, Click “Open” again and your app will run just like it always has. Your Mac will remember your choice, and not stop you from running this app in the future. Apple, for their part, advises you only to do this if you’re absolutely sure you can trust the source you’ve downloaded from.
Workaround 2: Gatekeeper Settings
The first workaround isn’t difficult or onerous, but it’s possible to open apps without any extra steps at all. To do this you’ll need to find the Gatekeeper settings. Open the System Preferences app, then head to Security & Privacy:
You’ll find the Gatekeeper options on the General tab:
There are three levels. The strictest will allow only apps from the Mac App Store – set this if you really, really enjoy the refreshing taste of Kool Aid. The middle option – and default in Mountain Lion – blocks only apps compiled without developer licenses. The third option, Anywhere, allows you to run any app without restriction. If you want to avoid nags entirely, this is what you’re looking for.
This is a legit security feature, isn’t it? You didn’t need to be such a dick about it.
You’re right, it’s not as simple as “Apple Bad, baaaaaaaad!” but I’m concerned to see freedom take a back seat to security – on computers or otherwise.
I’m curious about other features from Mountain Lion. Is there a complete document outlining everything in easy-to-understand language?
Why yes there is! Check out our Mountain Lion Guide
APPLE IS THE WORST APP STORES DON’T BELONG IN DESKTOP OPERATING SYSTEMS WINDOWS FORAVVA!
I’ve got some bad news about Windows tablets…
TABLETS ARE DIFFERENT FOR SOME REAOSN! SHUT UP!
Your logic and reason compelled me to change my mind! Leave now, secure in your victory, and never comment online again. You’ll simply never top this moment, and you shouldn’t even try.
Man, you guys are really pushing the definition of “question” today. For the record I love Linux, but I also kind of need Photoshop to do my job… and before you say anything about W…
Gah, nevermind. I’m done. If you have any real questions feel free to leave them below!
Image Credits: Outer sanctum Via Shutterstock