If you are an Apple user, you might have heard a lot of buzz about macOS Catalina. To be honest, Apple hasn’t been inspiring confidence with its software releases lately. IOS and iPadOS have been buggy and are still playing catch-up. So the most pressing question of the moment… Should you update to macOS Catalina or wait and watch? Let’s dive into the critical questions.
But first, a quick introduction...
What is macOS Catalina?
macOS Catalina (version 10.15) is Apple’s 16th major release of its operating system for the Macintosh or mac computers. It was released to the public on October 7, 2019, and is named after Santa Catalina Island located off the coast of southern California. It succeeds macOS Mojave that was released in 2018.
macOS Catalina runs on all standard Macs that support macOS Mojave. But, those Mac Pros that required a GPU upgrade to run Mojave, are not supported. Here’s a list of devices it’s available for:
MacBook (Early 2015 and later)
MacBook Air (Mid 2012 and later)
MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 and later)
Mac mini (Late 2012 and later)
iMac (Late 2012 and later)
iMac Pro (all models), and
Mac Pro (Late 2013 and later)
Here’s what’s new in Catalina...
What was promised; the features…
Arguably the biggest talking point in this version of the macOS is that Catalina is the first macOS that will support only 64-bit applications. This means that your 32-bit apps will stop working in Catalina. If you mainly use Apple applications, then this shouldn’t be a problem as Apple has already transitioned all its apps to 64-bit. If you are a macOS Mojave user and tried to open a 32-bit app, you may have seen the following pop-up alert:
If you have already updated to Catalina, you will see the following pop-up alert:
You should probably find out if any of your frequently used apps are 32-bit. This will tell you whether this update impacts you or not. This can be done rather easily. Follow this guide: How to find 32-bit apps on your Mac
And there’s more...
Another major feature is that iTunes has been broken up into different apps- Music, Apple TV, and Podcasts.
The Sidecar feature allows you to connect an iPad, via USB or wirelessly, which can be used as a secondary display. For apps with Touch Bar support, the controls appear at the bottom of your iPad screen, even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. You can also interact using the Apple Pencil as well as use Apple’s built-in markup tools.
Apple Arcade gives Mac users a small library of games.
Photos has also been updated to be more in line with the new iOS 13 and iPadOS versions. It offers a photo editing interface that’s a definite improvement over the last version.
There are many more features but that’s not the point of this post. Here’s the complete list of new features on macOS Catalina.
If you feel all that sounds great and want to update your Mac, please hold on until the end of this post.
Here’s the real deal...
What is wrong with macOS Catalina?
Long Installation Time
The very first thing we noticed is that it takes forever to install. We thought, perhaps it was just us. But we found a fair bit of chatter on Twitter about #macOSCatalinaStuck. macOS Catalina may or may not be trending on Twitter for the wrong reasons :P
Photoshop compatibility issues
Adobe has issued an advisory about the known compatibility issues with macOS Catalina.
Legacy versions of Photoshop are not supported on macOS Catalina. Version 19.x and earlier will not display in the ‘Older Versions’ list within the Creative Cloud desktop app. In addition, the older versions of Photoshop use 32-bit licensing components and installers. This means that they cannot be installed and activated after upgrading to macOS Catalina.
No XML file support
Along with the removal of iTunes, there will no longer be any XML file support. Most of the popular DJ apps such as Rekordbox and Traktor, read XML files. iTunes has been the default app for DJs as they could use it to sort tracks into playlists and using the “Share iTunes Library XML with other applications” option they could easily transmit data between apps. So, if you rely on XML files for DJing and you have put in a lot of time and effort into sorting music in iTunes, upgrading to Catalina will erase all your hard work.
Intrusive Data Protection Alerts
macOS Catalina checks with you before allowing an app to access your data. You’re also asked for permission before an app can perform keylogging or accessing your camera or screen. This means that you will need to set aside a solid chunk of time to click approval boxes for applications requesting access.
This may bring back memories of a Mac vs PC commercial making fun of Windows Vista for its pop-up boxes.
But that’s not all…
On October 8th, Apple rolled out 16 patches that addressed a wide range of bugs in Catalina. We are afraid that this is just the beginning and most likely many more patches will be released before Catalina becomes truly ready for the production environment.
So what’s the verdict...
What to do if you haven’t installed macOS Catalina yet?
macOS is very different from iOS updates as the matrix of apps and compatibility requirements are much more complicated. Therefore, when considering macOS, as a general rule, it is best to wait until it is thoroughly tested and bugs are fixed. You are likely dependent on your Mac for most of your work. And, it is very likely that an app or two that you really need won’t work on the new update. Until now the most affected appear to be DJs and those who use Photoshop but who knows what’s coming next.
So it is not worth the risk. There aren’t any security risks or major bugs on your current macOS and the new features aren’t particularly game-changers so you can hold off on updating to macOS Catalina for now.
If you have installed Catalina and are having second thoughts, don’t worry.
All is not lost…
What to do if you have already updated to macOS Catalina?
You can choose to downgrade back to macOS Mojave. We advise you to reach out to your IT Support Specialist for this. If you are a Jones IT client, you must have received an advisory via email. In case your device was already updated and you are facing problems, feel free to reach out to our IT Support Team.
In case you want to do it yourself, just follow these steps and you'll be back to your old setup.
Step 1: Back up your Mac
Follow this step by step guide on How To Back Up Your Mac
Step 2: Create a bootable drive of macOS Mojave
Next, you will need to create a bootable drive of macOS Mojave. Follow this guide to create your bootable macOS Mojave: How to create a bootable macOS Mojave 10.14 USB install drive
Step 3: Erase macOS Catalina
You'll now have to erase your hard drive before installing Mojave. Remember to back up your Mac before starting this step. Follow this guide to erase macOS Catalina: How To Erase A Disk For Mac
Step 4: Reinstall macOS Mojave
After you erasing macOS Catalina, you can reinstall Mojave. If your device came with macOS Mojave, simply restart your Mac while holding down Shift-Option-Command-R. This will install the operating system that came with your Mac, that is, macOS Mojave.
If your device didn’t come with macOS Mojave, follow these steps:
Make sure that your Mac is connected to the internet.
Plug the bootable drive with Mojave on it, made in step 2 above, into your Mac.
Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
Select Restart from the drop-down menu.
Hold down Option while the Mac restarts. This will take you to the option where you can select a startup disk.
Select your bootable drive with macOS Mojave from the list of startup disk options. This will begin the macOS Mojave installation.
Click Continue in the installation window.
macOS Mojave will be installed as a standard update. You will have to agree to the licensing terms before the software reboots.
Step 5: Restore data from an earlier macOS Mojave Time machine backup
Now restore your Time machine backup, which you created in step 1. You can follow the steps in this guide: Restore from a Time Machine backup
Final thoughts on Catalina
Here at Jones IT, we work proactively to make sure that all your IT needs are met. We have done extensive testing on this new release and noticed that Catalina’s initial release is not ready for production environments. In order to keep your organization working smoothly, it is best to prevent Catalina from being installed on any device.
Hold off on updating devices from macOS Mojave to macOS Catalina until Apple releases a more stable version of this release. Until then, if you have any comments, questions or concerns please feel free to reach out.
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