Installing JabRef in spite of Windows Protection

This week, I was setting up my new work computer (with Windows). As part of it, I wanted to install my favorite reference manager: JabRef. Unfortunately, the normal installation (i.e., downloading the .msi file) didn’t work, since Windows Protection was blocking it:

I found this weird since I did have admin rights to install stuff. After digging around, I learned that this is because the installer needs to have an electronic certificate. Sadly, this is very expensive, which is a big problem for (Open Source) projects like JabRef which depend mostly on donations. However, there are alternatives. In this post I would like to share a few of them and which one worked for me. Hopefully this will save you a headache.

1. Use the portable version

Portable versions can be a great alternative to a conventional installation. Actually, JabRef has a portable version of its own. Just download the version corresponding to your operating system, extract the files… and that’s pretty much it. You can even run JabRef (or any other portable app) from a USB drive (if you still have one). Unfortunately, in my case this didn’t work either, so on to Option 2.

2. Install using a package manager

JabRef suggests using the chocolatey package manager. However, in my case, I used Scoop. Just follow the following steps.

2.0 First of all, make sure that you have Git installed in your machine.

2.1 Install Scoop by opening a Windows PowerShell terminal, going to C:\, and running each of the following lines individually:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope CurrentUser
Invoke-RestMethod -Uri | Invoke-Expression

2.2 Now we can install JabRef with the following commands:

scoop bucket add extras
scoop install jabref

That’s it! You can use a similar procedure with other programs that Windows blocks. Nevertheless, be extra careful with the software that you install in your machine! Make sure that it always comes from a trusted sourced. Windows blocks these installations because of a reason. I trust JabRef because I have used it for a long time and it comes from a reliable source. However, more often than not, this is not the case.

If you have any comments, questions or feedback, leave them in the comments below or drop me a line on Twitter (@amoncadatorres). Moreover, if you found this useful, fun, or just want to show your appreciation, you can always buy me a cookie. Cheers!