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Brand new Mac Mini, latest macOS Catalina (10.15.6 (19G2021)), followed instructions on bitcoin.org download page. Double click Bitcoin Core.app, and I get:

“Bitcoin Core.app” can’t be opened because Apple cannot check it for malicious software.

This software needs to be updated. Contact the developer for more information.

Any suggestions?

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    This error is due to macOS requiring apps to be "notarized" by Apple. Bitcoin Core doesn't do this (yet) for privacy reasons (it causes macOS to phone home to Apple servers). I'm not sure how to bypass this error, but Apple claims it can be ignored. So the solution will be a general "app notarization bypass" kind of thing that you can try to search for. – Andrew Chow Sep 1 at 6:19
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As mentioned by Andrew, this is due to macOS' enforcement of notarization requirements.

This can be bypassed by right clicking on the application, then selecting Open - A dialog will popup warning you that it is not verified, but this one will have an Open button.

Once you open the application through the above process once, a regular double click will work on it in the future.

You may need to go through this process again if you update to a newer version of Bitcoin Core.

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  • Thanks both! Yes, I googled around some more after posting, and found it, but thank you for getting back to me and confirming. – user3174133 Sep 1 at 10:52
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To add to Raghav's answer above, Cobra recently posted this question on Twitter with a screenshot of what you see when you download Bitcoin Core on MacOS for the first time.

Cobra Twitter

He outlines what would need to be done for Bitcoin Core developers to address this:

The fix is trivial, just sign the application with an Apple developer account certificate, and notarize it, and it will run immediately for users, without showing this warning.

But Andrew Chow explained on Twitter why Bitcoin Core developers have not done this:

a notarized app will phone home to Apple's servers to verify that the notarization is valid. This privacy concern is what stopped the attempt to notarize Core, otherwise it would have been done a while ago. Many devs are not comfortable with that invasion of privacy.

Does a user trusting apple mean that they are opting into apple being the final arbiter of what they can run on their machine? Because AFAIU, that's what app notarization does. Apple can revoke notarizations thereby preventing an app from being installed.

Cobra argues that

Core makes requests to DNS seeds, which leaks the user's privacy to random Core developers, but somehow, the user shouldn't trust Apple, their own OS provider?

and

Apple's walled garden is a major selling point, many people like applications being vetted and pre-approved.

That summarizes the arguments for and against the Bitcoin Core developers addressing this user experience problem on MacOS. I would expect this to continue to be a user experience problem for the foreseeable future.

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