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If you use a Mac, you know that you can download apps from a number of places. Like an iPhone or an iPad, you can open up the App Store and download an app from there. Unlike an iPhone or iPad, you can also open up your browser and download an app directly from a website. 

When you download an app from a website and try to install it, there are a few popups you could get. You may get a popup saying that the app was downloaded from a website and ask if you’re sure you want to open it, this is fairly normal. The other message you may get is that the app is damaged, can’t be opened or is from an unidentified developer. If you get this message, it means that the app is not notarized. 

What is a Notarized App

When a developer creates an app for a Mac, there are a number of guidelines set by Apple that they have to follow. When the app is complete and ready to be distributed, there are a number of options available. The first that comes to mind is by placing the app on the App Store. Any app that you download from the App Store is always going to be checked by Apple to make sure it follows their guidelines exactly. 

The other option, and this is the option a lot of developers go for, is to get their app notarized by Apple and distribute it through their own website. Basically, this means they first send their app to Apple, who then make sure that there is no malicious code contained in the app. They then send the app back to the developer, with some code stapled to it, for the developer to distribute. When you open this app on your Mac now, your Mac sees this code and knows that it is safe to open. 

Why do Developers Notarize their Apps

A notarized app will not pop up with any errors when users open or install the app. It gives users more confidence in using their app, especially when it comes to knowing that the app is not doing anything malicious. 

Why do some Developers not Notarize their Apps

There are a lot of reasons why a developer may choose not to get their app notarized. It may be because their app does not meet all of Apple’s guidelines, or it could be that their app actually is built to do something malicious. 

The most common reason, though, is that there is a fee involved when notarizing an app. For a developer to get their app notarized they need an active developer account, which costs them $99 a year. This may seem worth it for some, but for others it just isn’t. For example, if a developer is releasing free apps that generate no money whatsoever, a yearly subscription to make their app accessible may just seem bizarre. 

Can I Install Apps that are Not Notarized

Yes. It is possible to install an app that is not notarized, however there are a few steps to follow. To find out how to do this, check out our post on how to disable gatekeeper. The best thing about this is that it only needs to be done once, after which you won’t have any issues installing other apps. 

While a lot of the time it is perfectly fine to install apps that are not notarized, there is always the possibility that someone out there is trying to do something malicious. Because of this, it is always important to research the app you are downloading before installing it and making sure that you are downloading the app from a reputable site. 

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