Mac Fixes

You Don’t Have Permission to Open the Application on Mac

You gear up to start working, try to open an application, and are stopped in your tracks. You receive an error, saying "you don’t have permission to open the application on Mac." It may be the first time you’ve seen this message on your Mac, but it’s a common one on macOS, especially on OS X Big Sur.

 

Below are the reasons why the Mac "you don’t have permission to open the application on Mac" error message comes up:

  • The app itself has issues, like bugs, incorrect settings, or wrong configurations
  • The app might have restricted access
  • There may be corrupted files on your computer
  • You may be experiencing network issues, like a poor signal

But don’t panic. It’s easy to fix the "you don’t have permission to open the application on Mac" error, whether you use a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. In this guide, we’ll show you the best solutions to resolve the issue.

 

Before we start

 

App permission problems are nothing new. In many cases, app performance issues are caused by faulty and unused apps that haven’t been updated. Thus, if you aren’t using some apps on your Mac, consider letting them go to help optimize your Apple device.

 

One of the best solutions to doing this is using a dedicated app. We recommend MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to safely delete unused apps and their leftover files, which are easy to miss with the human eye.

 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download MacKeeper on your MacBook.
  2. Select Smart Uninstaller in the sidebar.
  3. Hit Start Scan and follow the on-screen prompts.

How to fix “you do not have permission to open the application” on Mac

If you’re struggling to open an app, change the permissions settings first:

  1. Select the app and click File > Get Info.
  2. Expand the Sharing & Permissions section by clicking the arrow.
  3. Click the arrows under Privilege to see the permissions for that file.
  4. Choose between the Read & Write and Read only options.
opening the sharing and permissions options for an app to fix the “you do not have permission to open the application” error on a Mac. The Opera app is used as an example in the screenshot.
App sharing and permissions options

Similar to the macOS cannot verify that this app is free from malware error, there are several fixes you can implement to solve the app permission issue you’re experiencing.

  1. Update the operating system to the latest version
  2. Try to solve the issue with Terminal commands
  3. Remove quarantine flag
  4. Disable the Gatekeeper
  5. Allow read/write permission
  6. Unpack with UPX
  7. Disable System Integrity Protection
  8. Reinstall the app
  9. Open application using Rosetta.

1. Update the operating system to the latest version

As a general rule, we always advise checking whether your operating system is up-to-date when experiencing performance issues on your Mac. The reason is simple: an outdated system can cause an array of problems; not to mention that it can leave your device exposed to security vulnerabilities.

 

To avoid this, and as a first attempt at fixing your permission issues, consider updating to the latest version of macOS available for your device.

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select About This Mac.
  2. In the pop-up window, click Software Update. Mac will check if any updates are available.
  3. If there are, click the Update Now button.
Updating the operating system to the latest version is one of the fixes to the 'you don't have permission...' issue. Now select the About This Mac option in the Apple Menu to update to the latest operating system.
Step 1. About This Mac
Click the Update Now button in System Preferences to upgrade to the latest software available for your Mac. This may possibly fix an app that won't open on your device.
Step 2. Updating Mac software

2. Try to solve the issue with Terminal commands

Terminal commands are often helpful for resolving technical issues on your Mac. We know that some users tend to shy away from Terminal commands because they seem intimidating. But there’s no need for that; we’re here to walk you through the process:

  1. Search “Terminal” in Spotlight (press the Command + space bar keys) and select it from the results.
  2. Enter the command: sudo chmod -R 755 (replace with the app’s full file path) and hit the Enter key. If this doesn’t work, or you aren’t sure how to do it, simply omit , drag and drop the app in Terminal, and press Enter
  3. Open the app again to check if the error is fixed.
open the Terminal app on your Mac by looking for it in Spotlight search. Do this to use a command line to fix the app's permission error. This may result in the app finally opening.
Step 1. Opening Terminal
enter the full file path for the app whose permissions issues you want to resolve in Terminal and press Enter. This Terminal solution may be the one that fixes an app that won't open on a Mac.
Step 2. Entering command

Are you new to using Terminal? Build your confidence by learning how to use Terminal command line on your Mac like a pro.

3. Remove the quarantine flag

If the app was downloaded from a third-party source, it may have been quarantined by Gatekeeper to protect your computer from external threats. As a result, this may have affected your access to the app. However, you can remove the quarantine flag to use the app if you deem it safe:

  1. Open the Terminal app, enter the command: sudo xattr -dr com.apple.quarantine (replace with the actual file path) and press Enter. Alternatively, you can omit the section, enter only the first part of the command, and drag and drop the file in Terminal to get the correct file path for the app.
  2. Try opening the app once again.
Terminal command

4. Disable Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper is a built-in tool that allows you to install apps from recognized developers on the App Store. The aim is to protect your Mac against threats, and it’s automatically enabled on your device. Disabling Gatekeeper could help you access the locked app, and here’s how:

  1. Open Terminal, run the command: sudo spctl –master-disable, and hit Enter.
  2. Next, run the command: spctl –status and press Enter.
enter the command sudo spctl –master-disable in Terminal to disable Gatekeeper on a Mac. This will help you access the locked app.
sudo spctl –master-disable command in Terminal
enter the second command spctl –status to complete the process of disabling Gatekeeper on a Mac. This is one of the fixes for opening a locked application on a Mac.
spctl –status command in Terminal

5. Allow read/write permission

Read/write access for files is automatically enabled for most files. However, you may find that some files have read/write permission restrictions. There are many reasons why this may be the case, but it’s common for third-party apps. If your app isn’t from the App Store, this may be the reason it doesn’t have this permission, but you can allow it.

  1. Open the Terminal app, enter the command: sudo chmod -R 755 (replace with the full file path of the target app), and hit Enter.
  2. If you’re not sure how to do this properly, enter the first portion of the command without the file path, find the app, and drag and drop it in Terminal. The file path will appear in Terminal.
  3. Close the Terminal app and try to open the application that was giving you problems.
enter the command sudo chmod -R 755 with the app's file path to enable read/write permissions for the app in Mac's Terminal.
Allowing read/write permissions in Terminal

Apart from the files on your Mac, it’s also common for SD cards to have write protection. Learn how to remove write protections on a Mac.

6. Unpack with UPX

One of the reasons apps won’t open is when they contain binary files that were compressed using UPX. In such cases, you must install UPX to help you unpack the compressed binaries through UPX.

  1. Open Terminal, enter the command: /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSLhttps://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)", and press Enter to install Homebrew. Follow the on-screen prompts and press Enter. The installation may take a few moments, but you can follow the progress on the screen.
  2. Now enter the new command: brew install upx and press Enter to install UPX on your Mac.
  3. Find the target app, right-click on it, and select Show Package Contents > Contents > macOS.
  4. Type the last command: sudo upx -d, drag and drop the application file UNIX exe to Terminal, and hit Enter.
Enter the command for installing Homebrew in Terminal on a Mac to unpack compressed binaries with UPX. This may help you fix a problematic app that won't open on a Mac.
Step 1. Installing Homebrew
enter the command brew install upx in Terminal to install UPX on a Mac. This will help you unpack the compressed binaries through UPX.
Step 2. Installing UPX

A note from our experts: A few explanations to the process. Homebrew is a free, open-source package management software that simplifies the process of installing other software on macOS. Ultimate Packer for Executables (UPX) is free and open-source software that can reduce the file size of an executable. It supports several executable formats from various operating systems, including macOS apps.

7. Disable System Integrity Protection

System Integrity Protection (SIP) is a security feature on Macs that protects your device’s system files and apps against malicious attacks. You can temporarily disable it to try to open the problematic app and enable it afterward or at a later stage.

 

Let’s start by checking if SIP is enabled:

  1. Open the Apple menu and select About This Mac.
  2. Click the System Report button, select Software > System Integrity Protection, and check whether SIP is enabled.
  3. Close System Preferences.
By temporarily disabling SIP, you can open the problematic app with more chances of success. To try this method, check if System Integrity Protection is enabled in Mac's System Report (opened from the Apple's menu > About This Mac) and then disable it.
Checking if SIP is enabled

Next, disable SIP:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your Mac and choose the Restart option while simultaneously holding down the Command + R keys.
  2. After confirming the action, wait for your Mac to start up (when the Apple logo appears on the screen) and let go of the keys. You may have to choose an account and enter your administrator credentials.
  3. Once in Recovery Mode, the Examining Volumes window will appear on the Recovery Assistant screen. Wait until it disappears.
  4. Click Utilities in the top menu, choose Terminal, enter the command: csrutil disable, and press Enter.
  5. Click the Apple menu in Recovery Assistant and choose Restart to restart your computer the normal way and implement the new settings.
  6. Try to open the faulty app again.
While you're already in the Recovery Mode on your Mac, enter the command: csrutil disable to disable SIP as one of the troubleshooting steps to get access to the problematic app

8. Reinstall the app

If you’ve tried most of the solutions so far and nothing has yielded results, your next option is to reinstall the app altogether. This often helps with resetting whatever was wrong with the app, like replacing corrupted files. It’s like giving the app a much-needed refresh.

 

To uninstall the app:

  1. Go to the app in Finder and drag it to the Trash icon.
  2. Reinstall it and check if it opens this time around.
Reinstalling the app that can't be opened on a Mac is another helpful method. We do this with Opera for example. See how Opera is selected to be deleted in Finder on a Mac. Afterward, it'll be reinstalled.
Deleting Opera

9. Open application using Rosetta

Chances are you’re trying to open an app built for Intel-based or M1 Macs on an Apple Silicon Mac. While Rosetta should be able to help you do this, some apps can’t access it, so you must enable it manually to fix the error.

  1. Go to Finder, look for the app you’re struggling to open, and right-click on it.
  2. Select Get Info > General > Open using Rosetta.
  3. Double-click the app to open it.
Opening an app with Rosetta can sometimes fix the not open error. To do it, find the problematic app in Finder and right-click on it to open it using Rosetta.
Step 1. Go to Finder to find the problematic app
Go to Applications in Finder and choose the problematic app to open it with Rosetta. This is one of the steps involved in the process of fixing an app that won't open on a Mac.
Step 2. Choose the problematic app in the Applications folder
After the problematic app is selected, click Get Info to open an application using Rosetta on a Mac.
Step 3. Selecting Get Info
In the Safari Info window, click General and check the box next to Open using Rosetta . This may help you open an application using Rosetta on a Mac.
Step 4. Opening Rosetta

Some apps aren’t compatible with newer Mac models. If you’re using a Silicon Mac, this may be the reason you’re having trouble opening certain apps. That’s where Rosetta comes in. It’s a binary translator that helps MacBooks with Apple Silicon run apps that were made for Apple devices with an Intel processor.

 

Rosetta should come pre-installed on your Mac. However, if you don’t have it, you can run the command: /usr/sbin/softwareupdate --install-rosetta --agree-to-license in Terminal to install it.

Fix app access issues on your Mac

Performance issues are commonplace on tech products like laptops, and MacBook devices are no exception. There are various reasons why you could experience issues opening an app. The important thing, however, is that this can be fixed. This goes for the “you don’t have permission to open the application” on Mac error, too.

 

Use the helpful tips in our guide to gain access to your beloved apps again. More importantly, we suggest using MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to safely uninstall apps and leftover files. If needed, use it to thoroughly remove and re-install the apps giving you issues or remove hidden apps clogging up your Mac. It's helpful when your system has run out of application memory on Mac or your account doesn't allow editing on a Mac.

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