OS X Mountain Lion Limits Apps to Mac App Store, Signed Apps by Default

One of the significant new features in OS X Mountain Lion is Gatekeeper, a new security system to help keep users from installing nefarious applications on their machines.

The new system relies not only on Mac App Store distribution as means of vetting apps, but also on a new "identified developer" program under which developers distributing their applications outside of the Mac App Store can register with Apple and receive a personalized certificate they can use to sign their applications. Apple can then use that system to track developers and disable their certificates if malicious activity is detected.

gatekeeper preferences
As Macworld notes in its review of Gatekeeper, OS X Mountain Lion's default setting will be to only allow initial launching of apps either downloaded from the Mac App Store or which are digitally signed under Apple's identified developer program. Users will be able to access Gatekeeper's settings in the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences, where they will also be able to choose from an even stricter setting that will allow for installation of Mac App Store apps only or a looser setting that will allow all applications to be installed and launched.

Located in the General tab of the Security & Privacy preference pane is a setting called “Allow applications downloaded from,” with three options:

Anywhere: This choice uses the same set of rules as every previous version of Mac OS X. If an app isn’t known malware and you approve it, it opens.

Mac App Store: When this choice is selected, any apps not downloaded from the Mac App Store will be rejected when you try to launch them.

Mac App Store and identified developers: This is the new default setting in Mountain Lion. In addition to Mac App Store apps, it also allows any third-party apps that have been signed by an identified developer to run.

For users on the default setting, they can bypass the initial Gatekeeper check the first time they launch an unsigned third-party app by right clicking on the app itself and choosing the "Open" command. Once the application has been opened one time, Gatekeeper no longer has any control over it.

As for apps that are signed by an identified developer, Macworld notes that OS X Mountain Lion will perform a daily check with Apple's servers for blacklisted developer signatures, and if an app from a blacklisted developer is installed on the user's system it will not open.

Importantly, Apple's identified developer program does not involve any sort of vetting on Apple's part, as certificates are automatically issued upon request and can be freely used by the developers. But what the program does do is provide a way for Apple to link specific developers to specific apps and use Gatekeeper to revoke application functionality should a developer be discovered to be distributing malware.

Top Rated Comments

KingJosh Avatar
118 months ago
Why do some people take half the facts and cry?
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GenesisST Avatar
118 months ago
Well we all knew this was coming. After Mountain Lion we'll have to jailbreak to run apps from outside the App Store.

No we won't. You just need to turn down the setting to allow all apps.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ppilone Avatar
118 months ago
I knew I shouldn't have looked at this thread... immediately full of "Goodbye OS X" posts.

Gatekeeper really does seem like an intelligent approach to security in OS X. If anything, I think it re-affirms that OS X will not be Mac App Store only for the foreseeable future. Apple is giving developers an opportunity to play nice, without all the headache and restrictions placed on distributing through the Mac App Store.

Gatekeeper, IMHO, feels like a "we get it - it's not iOS" from Apple. In fact, I'm hoping for Gatekeeper to show up in iOS 6.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GenesisST Avatar
118 months ago
Why do some people take half the facts and cry?

Complaining is fun! :D
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dethmaShine Avatar
118 months ago
Image (http://obamapacman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Bill-Gates-Big-Brother-Apple-1984.jpg)
********.

You may wanna go and check the Gatekeeper developer meaning again.

As much as a geek I am, I am probably gonna run the OS in Mac App Store only Gatekeeper mode and revert to Anywhere when I need to install some stuff on the web.

This is the best Apple can do for the very vast number of users. Caters to us geeks, caters to normal people and caters to those who don't know the **** they are doing.

This is unbelievably awesome.


Well we all knew this was coming. After Mountain Lion we'll have to jailbreak to run apps from outside the App Store.
On the contrary, this is evidence that Apple is NOT going to close the Mac. Things cannot be much more obvious for those who really wish to see without bias and hatred.

Short story for those interested:
Just a couple of days back, one of my friends referred to this concept in general and I was so blown away (shame I couldn't figure out myself). This also prevented Apple from changing the underlying UNIX system to an extent where they would revoke installation permissions from the user or admin or even the super-user. Maybe an additional private kernel model only used for app installations.

This is absolutely surreal. Best ****in feature ever. People don't realise this but this makes me believe that Apple is running for the geeks too. Long live Apple.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deputy_doofy Avatar
118 months ago
Yes, in Mountain Lion. But I was saying that Apple will silently phase that out in the next release.

I will remain an optimist for now. In some respects, I like the GateKeeper concept. However, if Apple removes (or hides) the "anywhere" feature in 10.9 or higher, I will re-think my OS of choice (but *still* won't consider Windows). When malware can get onto my machine and install like machine-gun fire (this is on a corporate network with "enterprise-level" anti-malware software) when I don't even have admin access myself to install anything, MS will never have my business. I guess I'll revisit (and learn) Linux at that point.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...
hlh030121feafutureoffitness012 1614286673

A Look Inside Apple's 23,000 Square-Foot Fitness+ Studio

Friday March 5, 2021 10:59 am PST by
Apple Fitness+, the latest service to join the Apple family, integrates tightly with the Apple Watch to offer a comprehensive and growing selection of workout and exercise videos made by a team of professional trainers. Apple Fitness+ Studio (via Men's Health) Apple curates and records all of the videos at a location in Santa Monica, California, and each video features a similar background...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
microsoft edge vertical tabs

Microsoft Edge 89 Brings Vertical Tabs and New History View

Friday March 5, 2021 4:06 am PST by
Microsoft has officially released version 89 of its popular Chromium-based Edge browser, bringing its long-trialed vertical tabs feature to Mac for the first time. Vertical tabs are intended to make more efficient use of screen space, and should prove a welcome addition for users browsing on 16:9 ratio displays in particular. Users can click vertical tabs to switch between them and...