Apple’s new update for the macOS, Catalina, adds several security features to OS. One major change is the notarization of apps. Under this program, developers need to submit their apps for a verification process, before they could publish it on the macOS platform. Apps that don’t get approval from Apple are now blocked from direct execution- they display a message “app installer can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software.” It is beneficial for those who are concerned about the security of their Mac. But it can be annoying at times when the system blocks you from opening apps like Whatsapp, Brave Browser, Spotify, CCleaner, etc.
Can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software: Catalina 10.5
Apple began controlling apps outside the App store some time back. This feature was present in Mojave and High Sierra. But in Catalina, they have extended the Gatekeeper features, and removed the support for installing for 32-bit apps. As per the latest changes, developers to need to join the Apple Dev program for a certificate and sign their apps before release. Apps that get through this process are known as notarized and can pass Gatekeeper verification. The Gatekeeper app in Catalina displays the following errors for unrecognized apps.
- Can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software
- App cannot be opened because the developer integrity cannot be verified
- MacOS cannot verify that this app is free from malware
All these errors refer to the notarization issue in Catalina. Most of the publishers are now making changes to their apps to comply with Apple requirements. Therefore you could expect the above error to get a fix in the upcoming updates. However, third-party and hobby developers may not apply for notarization, especially if the app slightly violate Apple’s security guidelines. An example is Dosdude’s Patcher app which downloads Mac OS offline installers.
Steps to fix Developer or app cannot be verified for malware in macOS Catalina
For macOS versions up-to Mojave you can check with Security & Privacy settings under System Preferences to lift the Gatekeeper block and fix alert messages. Another option is to simply right-click on the application installer and press the Open link. Following any of two methods (check image) will allow you to use the app as usual.
However, for some apps in Catalina, the warning message occasionally re-appears, even if you click “Open Anyway” in the Security setting. Download and upgrade to Catalina 10.15.1 if you have this issue.
Alternatively, do the following to stop the “Developer cannot be verified” permanently, or Apple can’t check for malicious software” alerts in Catalina.
- Copy the app to the macOS Catalina Applications folder.
- Now open the Terminal and type and execute the commands in the above image.
- Replace the Patcher.app section with the name of your app, and keep the extension intact.
From this point, Gatekeeper won’t bother you with repetitive warning messages. But keep in mind that you are bypassing a security feature of macOS Catalina- use it only for trusted apps.