Fix: App Is Damaged and Cannot Be Opened on Mac

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Your Mac may sometimes throw an annoying error message that says the app you’re trying to launch is damaged and can’t be opened. What’s even more confusing is that this error also affects many macOS native apps. If you already restarted your computer but the error refuses to go away, pursue the troubleshooting solutions below.

How to Fix “App Is Damaged and Can’t Be Opened” on Mac

Tweak Your Privacy Settings and Update the App

Before diving into more complex troubleshooting solution, let’s start with some quick workarounds.

Navigate to System Preferences, select Security and Privacy, and go to General. Go to Allow apps downloaded from and select Anywhere. In other words, you’re allowing non-App Store apps to run on your machine.

mac allow apps downloaded from anywhere

Many users confirmed that certain apps don’t seem to work properly when the “App Store and identified developers” option is checked.

Additionally, check if there’s a newer app version available. If you downloaded the problematic app from the App Store, launch the Store app and check for updates. If you’re running an outdated macOS versions, navigate to System Update, check for updates and install the latest OS version available for your Mac.

Reinstall the App

Re-downloading or reinstalling the app that triggered this error may be the solution you’re looking for. If you initially downloaded the app from a third-party download website, uninstall it and make sure to download it from its developer’s official website this time around. Better yet, if the app is available in the App Store, download it directly from the Store.

Always download your apps from reliable and trusted sources to keep your Mac safe from threats. As a quick reminder, some third-party download websites may alter the app code to inject adware or various trackers. That might explain why you’re getting this error on your Mac.

Use the Xattr Command

The xattr command lets you modify or even remove the extended attributes of your apps and files. In other words, this command modifies the complementary information attached to your app or file, also known as metadata.

A number of users solved this issue by running the xattr -r -d com.apple.quarantine <path to file or app>  command in Terminal. To clarify, this command lets you remove the quarantine flag from your app. Double-check to make sure you add the correct path to your app after the com.apple.quarantine string. Use this command only if you’re sure your file or app is coming for a trusted source.

There’s another command that worked for many users but we’d strongly advise you to use it only as a last resort. The xattr -cr /path/application.app command lets you remove all your file or app attributes (metadata) leaving your Mac unable to assess if that file or app is stable or secure. So, do proceed at your own risk and only if you’re 100 percent sure the app you’re trying to launch is stable and secure. For example, let’s say the problematic app is iTunes and it’s located in the Applications folder. You need to run this command: xattr -cr /Applications/iTunes.app.

Conclusion

If your Mac says the app you’re trying to launch has been damaged, this may indicate the app’s code has been altered. This may potentially put your system’s security and stability at risk. To fix this error, update the problematic app, install the latest macOS update or reinstall the app. As a last resort, use the xattr command to remove metadata from the app.

Did you manage to get rid of the “App is damaged and can’t be opened” error? Did you find other solutions to troubleshoot this pesky error? Share your feedback in the comments below.

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