macOS Catalina: An upgrade guide

Kishore Bhargava | Updated on: Dec 06, 2021

MacOS Catalina

If you are already invested in the Apple eco-system, this is a must upgrade for you as long as you have compatible hardware

Earlier this month, macOS Catalina had entered the world. As with any Apple product these days, there news, views and issues surrounding are endless. The sixteenth major OS release for Apple, maybe more bitter than sweet for many.

But for those whose phones run smoothly after the upgrade, the overall Apple experience has only become better.

Big update or incremental? In some ways, it could be both. Some massive changes have taken place and one of them was the removal of the support for 32-bit apps.

In all fairness, for over a decade, Apple has been saying that it will remove the support for 32-bit apps. But neither the developers, nor users paid any heed.

Now that it is gone, many feel it was a sudden move. They gave you ten years to get this right! If you had kept up with the developments, and had migrated your applications on time, you would not even have noticed this and would have been happier.

The upgrade, in my case, was smooth. My machine, a 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, was listed as compatible. After I had checked for the installed 32-bit applications and found that there were only one or two non-critical applications, I was ready for the upgrade. I had an older version of Adobe Lightroom, but it was not in use as I moved to the cloud-based version.

The upgrade took me less than an hour and this was despite the over 4GB download. Everything worked, no surprises, no hanging, no bugs, just a usual upgrade.

Seperate section for iCloud account, Apple ID

Some of the changes are so subtle that you barely notice them, but what you do see is a certain consistency across devices. To begin with, the system preferences, now, has a separate section for your iCloud account and Apple ID. This theme actually continues across the entire upgrade. Some call it the iOSification of the MacOS and were not happy about it, but honestly it blends in naturally and you don’t have to go hunting for things.


MacOS Catalina

In fact, with Catalyst apps, there are many iOS apps being made available on the MacOS. At the time of the launch, the numbers are limited, but this is expected to grow as developers realise the potential of building apps for the iOS. Then with a few tweaks, they are made available on MacOS as well.

Security and Privacy

Next up - Security and Privacy. For hardware that have the Apple T2 chip, the activation lock will kick in, preventing unauthorised use or erasure of the hard disk. For everyone else, all apps will begin to reconfirm permissions for location, disk use etc. In fact, for the first few days one may even feel irritated as it would seem like the apps will not function until they are granted the appropriate permissions. But this is now happening on the mobile as well and is for your own safety. A significant improvement is the ability to use the Apple Watch for password authentication, thereby, reducing the friction and hassle of passwords which are so critical to life these days.


Amongst the big features of this release, one the biggest is the Sidecar! The ability to extend your MacBook to a second screen (with the iPad being the second screen).

The iPad can also be used as a graphic tablet, extremely useful for the creative folks for photography design etc. My first attempt to get this working had failed, but after signing out of iCloud on both devices and signing back in, everything worked like a charm. The menu bar, now, has a Sidecar icon , which connects both wired and wirelessly to the iPad seamlessly. I was earlier using the Duet Display which I liked, but I had not purchased the license for the Duet Air. Now, I don’t need it. The Sidecar works well, with little to no lag and is not only a gimmick but a truly useful addition.

Death of iTunes

The other major change, was the death of iTunes. This was met with mixed reactions. For many years now users have hated iTunes and considered it to be bloated, slow and totally unnecessary. Finally, when it is removed, they are up in arms. For me, the new replacement apps of Music, Podcasts and Apple TV are all very neat, and actually provide a consistent look and feel across devices. From iPhone to iPad to MacBook, the apps are near identical.

Handoff and continuity also work so seamlessly. You could start a movie on your phone and then continue watching from the same sequence spot on your Apple TV if you have one.

Apple Arcade

For gamers, there is now Apple Arcade. I am not much of a gamer and have not yet attempted this service on my iPad or MacBook, but who knows in a moment of boredom one might consider looking for a nice arcade game, at least it exists now and is not that expensive in India.


MacOS Catalina

One of the features that doesn’t get enough of a mention is the Voice Control, buried in the accessibility preferences. Once enabled you can control almost everything on your MacBook with only your voice. From opening and closing applications, to surfing the web all with very simple commands.

While there are tons of other little features and improvements, it will take time to unearth them all.

So should you upgrade?

If you have already invested in the Apple eco-system, this is a must upgrade for you as long as you have compatible hardware. Make sure you check what 32-bit apps you use and if there aren’t any mission critical ones, then by all means the upgrade makes the system look fresh and new!

Published on October 28, 2019
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