How to Remove "Will Damage Your Computer" Error on Mac

Ana Jovanovic
Ana Jovanovic Editor
Updated on: July 19, 2024
Fact Checked by Sam Boyd
Ana Jovanovic Ana Jovanovic
Updated on: July 19, 2024 Editor

Short on time? Here’s how to remove the “Will damage your computer” error from Mac:

  1. Install Antivirus Software. To find out if the error is caused by malware, it’s important to install a reliable antivirus app like Intego.
  2. Scan Your Device. Run a full system scan with your antivirus of choice.
  3. Remove the Virus. After the scan is complete, let the antivirus remove all instances of infected files and apps.
  4. Stay Protected. Protect yourself from future malware infections with a high-quality internet security package (again, Intego is the best).

The “Will Damage Your Computer” error is super annoying, but at least it’s easy to fix. It’s usually caused by leftovers from potentially malicious software that you tried installing but deleted, although it can also appear when you try to open or install an app. It doesn’t hurt your Mac, but it’s pretty invasive (and clicking on Move it to Trash doesn’t work, either!).

You may also encounter a similar error message saying “This app can’t be opened because the identity of the developer can’t be verified.” Equally frustrating, this pop-up appears when you try to install an app that hasn’t been verified by Apple. Fortunately, there’s a really easy fix for both of these scenarios.

In both cases, you’ll need to use antivirus software to run a full scan of your Mac to make sure the app in question isn’t malicious. I use Intego on my Mac because it caught 100% of the malware samples I downloaded and tested. That said, if malware isn’t causing the error, you can follow my really simple guide to fix the problem — once and for all. Editors' Note: Intego and this site are in the same ownership group.

Threat name “Will damage your computer” error
“Can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software” error
“Can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” error
Type Malware error warning
Devices affected Mac
Symptoms Pop-ups, unable to install or open apps
Damage Inability to install or open desired app(s), distractive pop-up that keeps reappearing

TRY INTEGO

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac

Step 1. Install Reliable Antivirus Software

I highly recommend installing reliable antivirus software to enhance your Mac’s protection. Though you can rely on Gatekeeper to flag potentially harmful software most of the time, malicious applications can still sneak through. Because of this, you do need an antivirus app that can complement your device’s built-in security and catch malicious files.

I recommend Intego, as it’s specifically designed for Macs and provides comprehensive protection against malware, spyware, and other threats. Once you install Intego, you can go ahead and move onto Step 2.

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Step 2. Determine if the Error Is a False Positive

So, is the app or file that’s triggering the warning infected with malware or just not verified by Apple? To find out, I recommend running a contextual scan on the file that’s returning the error.

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac

Once you’ve installed Intego, open VirusBarrier and drag and drop the suspicious file or installation file (.dmg) into the app. VirusBarrier will then scan that file to determine if it’s safe.

Step 3 (Optional). Run a Full Scan if You Suspect a Malicious File

If the file ends up being flagged as malware, I recommend performing a full system scan of your Mac computer. If not, you can skip to Step 5.

To run a full scan, simply open Intego, go to the Scan tab, and click Full Scan. Full scans can take an hour or two, but you shouldn’t interrupt them.

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac
Editors' Note: Intego and this site are in the same ownership group.

After running a full system scan, you’ll see a list of compromised files. At this point, you have the option to delete them. However, if you’re technically inclined, you might want to review the files to check for false positives before moving onto the next step.

Step 4. Remove the Malware and Run Another Scan

Once your quarantine folder (if it didn’t open automatically) and click on the suspicious files. You can now delete them.

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac
Editors' Note: Intego and this site are in the same ownership group.

Then, I recommend restarting your Mac to ensure all changes take effect. After rebooting, run another full system scan to confirm that every trace of the malware has been removed. This second scan is typically faster since Intego uses file caching and will skip previously scanned files that were deemed safe.

You should let the antivirus complete its scan to ensure your system is completely clean. When the scan is finished and no more threats are detected, you can be confident that your Mac is free of the malware causing the “Will Damage Your Computer” error.

Step 5. Remove the Warning

Next, you’ll need to boot your Mac into safe mode. The process for this will differ depending on whether you have a Mac with an Intel CPU or Apple silicon.

If you already know what type of Mac you have, you can skip to restarting in safe mode on Intel Macs or M-series Macs — but if you’re not sure, click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of any screen, then click About This Mac. This will tell you what type of Mac you have.

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac

Booting Your Intel-Based Mac Into Safe Mode

  1. Power on or restart your Mac, then quickly press and keep holding the Shift key during the startup process.
  2. Let go of the Shift key once you see the login screen and log into your Mac.
  3. You might need to log in a second time. You should see Safe Boot displayed in the upper-right corner of the login window during either the first or second login attempt. If Safe Mode doesn’t start, check the steps below to disable your firmware password. Otherwise, you can remove the warning.

How to Disable Your Intel-Based Mac’s Firmware Password

If you can’t boot your Intel-based Mac into safe mode, you’ll need to first disable the firmware password. Here’s how:

  1. Boot up from macOS recovery. First, shut down your Mac, then power it on again and immediately hold command + the R key. During this process, you’ll be required to provide your firmware password. (If you can’t remember your firmware password, you’ll have to bring your Mac along with the original receipt or invoice to an authorized Apple service center.)
  2. Once the utilities window appears, click Utilities in the menu bar, then choose Startup Security Utility or Firmware Password Utility.
  3. Click Turn Off Firmware Password.
  4. Enter your firmware password again when prompted.
  5. Quit the utility and restart your Mac.
  6. Remove the warning.

Booting Your Apple Silicon Mac into Safe Mode

  1. Shut down your Mac completely.
  2. Press and hold the power button until your Mac turns on and you see the startup options screen. When the Options menu appears, release the power button.
  3. Choose your startup disk, typically named “Macintosh HD” unless you’ve renamed it.
  4. Hold down the Shift key and then click the Continue in Safe Mode button beneath the startup disk icon.
  5. Log in to your Mac. You may be prompted to log in a second time.

Remove the Warning

Once you’ve booted your Intel or Apple silicon Mac into safe mode, you’ll have to check some folders for suspicious files. Here’s how:

  1. Copy the following system directories — one by one, without the quotation marks: “/Library/LaunchDaemons”, “/Library/LaunchAgents”, and “~/Library/LaunchAgents”.
  2. Open a Finder window, hold Command and Shift while tapping the G key to open a search box, and paste each system directory into the field that appears — again, one at a time. When the system directory appears under Go to, double-click on it.

How to Remove the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac

  1. Repeat the same process for each folder. Check each one for any suspicious files. The apps you use on your Mac will create normal folders and files in these locations. You’ll commonly see folders like Adobe, Amazon, Citrix, Dropbox, Google, and others, depending on the apps you’ve installed. Legitimate software won’t try to hide or obscure its name.
  2. If you find any suspicious files, simply drag them to Trash to delete them (or check them in Intego).
  3. Restart your Mac as you normally would.

There’s a good chance this will resolve the problem. If these steps didn’t fix the problem, I recommend repeating the entire process again to see if you missed any files.

Best Antiviruses for Safely Removing the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac in 2024

Quick summary of the best antiviruses for removing the “Will damage your computer” error from Mac:

  • 🥇 1. Intego — Best overall antivirus for removing malware causing the “Will damage your computer” error.
  • 🥈 2. Norton — Strong antivirus protection for Mac users with 100% malware detection.
  • 🥉 3. Bitdefender — Lightweight and cloud-based malware scanner with great extra features.

Why Am I Seeing the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error?

You’re probably seeing the “Will Damage Your Computer” error (or similar) because macOS has detected old files from software you’ve installed in the past. These could be remnants from applications you thought you removed or even forgot about. While macOS’s built-in security tools, like XProtect, have likely neutralized any actual threats that these files might pose, the dialog persists as a leftover notification from Apple’s enhanced security measures. That said, it could also appear because you’re trying to install or open a malicious application.

Why Am I Seeing the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error?

Apple hasn’t resolved this issue because its primary focus is to block active threats before they can impact your system. This approach hasn’t changed, but what’s new is its increased vigilance in flagging remnants from older software that were not previously recognized as harmful. This results in the persistent dialog you’re seeing. Essentially, the dialog box acts as a notification of the newly recognized risk from these remnants.

Alternatively, you may see this warning:

  • When you try to open or install an app that hasn’t gone through Apple’s security checks. This often happens with apps downloaded from outside the Mac App Store or from developers not verified by Apple.
  • If the app’s developer certificate has been revoked.
  • If the app’s digital signature doesn’t match Apple’s verification standards.
  • If the installation file has been damaged during download or installation.
  • If the app contains malware.

Instead of “Example App will damage your computer,” the message can also say something like “Example App can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” or similar.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

Using unsigned or unverified apps is generally not a safe practice: it can put your Mac and your data at risk. That’s why, when you try to install such an app, your Mac will issue a warning that looks something like this:

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

Sometimes, the error message will state that Apple can’t check the app for malicious software, and sometimes it will say the source of the developer can’t be identified. The procedure for removing them is the same (described below), but you should only perform it if you’re confident in the source of the app.

On macOS Monterey or Earlier

Here you’ll find instructions for earlier versions of macOS. If you’re on a newer version of macOS, check the instructions for that instead.

  1. Try running the app.
  2. Click the Apple logo in the top left and go to System Preferences.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

  1. Click Security & Privacy.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

  1. Head to General and click on the lock icon.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

  1. When prompted, enter your administrator username and password.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

  1. Select Open Anyway.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

On macOS Ventura or Later

  1. First, you need to attempt to run the app. This will trigger the error message.
  1. Once you’ve attempted running the app, click the Apple logo, go to System Settings, scroll down in the left sidebar, and click Privacy & Security.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

  1. Scroll all the way down until you see Example.app was blocked from use because it is not from an identified developer. (“Example” will be replaced with whatever the name of the app is that you’re trying to use.) Then, click Open Anyway. But again, remember that this can have serious consequences for your Mac if you’re not careful.
  2. Use TouchID or enter your password to confirm your selection.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

5. Again, confirm your selection by clicking Open.

Installing Apps From Unverified Developers on Your Mac

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you protect your Mac from viruses?

Protecting your Mac from viruses involves a combination of built-in security features, good digital hygiene practices, and using third-party antivirus software.

Macs come with several built-in security features designed to protect against malware. Gatekeeper, for instance, ensures that only trusted software from the App Store or identified developers can be installed, while System Integrity Protection (SIP) prevents certain files and programs from being modified, protecting core system components.

Good digital hygiene practices are essential to complement these built-in features. Avoiding suspicious links and attachments, sticking to safe websites, and using an ad blocker can significantly reduce the risk of malware. Regularly updating your macOS and all installed applications is crucial to patch vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malware.

While macOS has robust built-in security features, third-party antivirus software can provide an extra layer of protection. Solutions like Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9, Norton 360 Deluxe, and Bitdefender Premium Security for Mac offer comprehensive malware protection, fast scans, and additional features such as VPNs, password managers, and dark web monitoring.

How do you get rid of the “Will Damage Your Computer” error on Mac?

To get rid of the “Will Damage Your Computer” error on your Mac, install reliable antivirus software and scan the individual installation file. If malware is detected, quarantine or delete the infected files.

Next, I recommend running a full system scan if that file was malicious. Once that’s done, you can remove the error message using the methods outlined here.

Why does my Mac keep saying “Will Damage My Computer”?

Your Mac displays the “Will Damage Your Computer” error to protect against potentially harmful software. This warning appears when you attempt to install apps from unverified developers or sources outside the official App Store.

macOS uses security features like Gatekeeper to ensure that only safe and notarized software runs on your system. If an app is flagged, it might contain malware, be improperly signed, or have been tampered with. Ensuring your software is downloaded from trusted sources can help avoid this error and maintain your Mac’s security.

If you see the “Will Damage Your Computer” error on Mac, should you move the file to the bin?

No, not necessarily. If you see the “Will Damage Your Computer” error on your Mac, it indicates that the file may contain malware. However, it could also just be a false positive.

Before deciding if you want to move the file to the bin or install it, use reliable antivirus software to scan and verify it. If it’s flagged as dangerous, move it to the bin and run a full system scan to ensure your Mac’s security.

Best Antiviruses for Removing the “Will Damage Your Computer” Error From Mac in 2024 — Final Score:

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About the Author
Ana Jovanovic
Updated on: July 19, 2024

About the Author

Ana Jovanovic is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She has nearly a decade of experience editing, proofreading, fact-checking, and rewriting content for dozens of websites covering various topics, including two dedicated to antiviruses, VPNs, parental controls, and password managers. Prior to joining the SafetyDetective team, she led a team of SEO content editors working in several niches, including cybersecurity, finance, and technology. Ana has also worked in printed media and the book publishing industry as an editor and translator. When she's not working, she enjoys reading, cooking, and taking care of her plants — she has over a hundred of them!

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