Catalina is Here (But Don’t Install it Yet)

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #353

The latest Mac operating system—macOS 10.15 a.k.a. Catalina—shipped last week and initial reports are mixed. And, as usual, I’m going to warn you not to install it yet.

I’ve been running beta releases of Catalina all summer, and have installed, upgraded, and reinstalled countless pre-release versions, so this isn’t my first rodeo.

My Upgrade Was No Picnic

Still, when I upgraded my main Mac (a 2015 MacBook Pro) yesterday, I had serious issues with the Finder crashing and other apps not responding, along with more appearances of the spinning pinwheel of death than I’ve seen in ages. After an hour or so of frustration I reinstalled Catalina, and that seems to have done the trick.

My point is that an upgrade that should have taken no more than 45 minutes ended up wasting nearly half of my day.

More Reasons to Wait

If that’s not enough to keep you from installing it today, here are a couple more reasons you should wait for at least one (if not two) bug-fix updates before taking the plunge:

32-bit apps are not supported in Catalina. I wrote a whole column last July explaining 32- vs. 64-bits, but in a nutshell, your old copies of Office, Photoshop, Lightroom, and many other older programs will not work once you upgrade.

Bottom line: Before you even think about installing Catalina, download and run the free Go64 app from St. Clair Software (maker of Default Folder X and other utilities). It’s the easiest way to determine which of your apps are 32-bit; it offers developer contact information for many apps; and it can identify 64-bit apps with 32-bit plugins, frameworks or services, which may or may not run in Catalina.

And Even More Reasons…

Here’s another consideration: How much time do you have if your upgrade goes haywire? I spent more than four hours installing Catalina on my main Mac and have spent even more than that troubleshooting other macOS upgrades.

Do you have that kind of time today?

My Recommendations

So, here’s what I recommend before you pull the trigger on macOS Catalina 10.15:

  1. Wait for at least one bug-fix update.
  2. Search the web for “macOS Catalina bugs (or issues or problems)” and read everything you can find.

    More than 9 million hits!

    For example, I found “Apple Confirms Serous MacBook Pro Problems in macOS Catalina” at; “macOS 10.15 Catalina Ships, Upgrade with Caution” at; and (literally) six million other results.

    Forewarned is forearmed—do your homework!

  3. Run Go64 and replace any 32-bit apps you can’t live without.
  4. Tackle your upgrade on a weekend or other time when being without your Mac for an hour or four won’t be as onerous.
  5. Finally, before you pull the trigger ask yourself if you really need Catalina’s new features today. If you don’t, wait for a bug-fix release or two before taking the plunge.

I hope these tips make your upgrade less vexing (and time-consuming) than mine.

Good bye and good luck!

And that’s all he wrote…

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I agree with suggesting to wait on updating to Catalina. I updated my macbook two weeks ago, then I had to update my other apple products. Every single update has taken at least an hour, which is ridiculous. Then they had yet another update, so I had to spend 3 hours with each update for each device. I don’t recall any of the previous updates taking as long and being as excessive. I went Apple with the hopes of more organization, but these updates definitely do not seem organized and an hour for an update is a bit ridiculous for… Read more »

Meh. I was quite happy with High Sierra, but then Apple released updates to Numbers/Pages that broke shared iCloud docs. So I thought I’d update to Mojave, except with the release of Catalina the Mojave installer was gone. So I had to use the trusty tool from that allowed me to obtain a Mojave installer.

Just so I could use Apple productivity apps.

As someone forced to update unwillingly to Mojave you don’t have to work hard to convince me to hold off on Catalina.

Progress is great, but breaking things that work isn’t progress.


Bob: Great advice. I took it. Until I didn’t. You had me at ‘Don’t’, based on your previous article about holding off (following my reading a number of other articles recommending the same), but then Dave Hamilton dove in, didn’t get eaten and proclaimed, ‘The water is fine!’ My fighter’s instincts took over and I took the plunge. My benefit/risk calculus was net positive. My primary reason for holding off were the warnings of unpredictable bugginess, which have been inconsistent as to presentation, and not the more common experience. The dedicated 64-bit requirement was not an issue. Those were the… Read more »


Actually Bob, you could have just ended point 5 at: “do you need Catalina’s new features.” One has to wonder about the incompatibility issues. I have old peripherals that work just fine but have 32 bit driver apps. I’d have a major hardware replacement to factor in as well which makes this “free” upgrade rather expensive!

Lee Dronick

My Upgrade Was No Picnic

Mine was a picnic, with a roll in the clover.



I ran the installer on my iMac. It ran fine. It did hang on the Setting Up screen after reboot. But after checking online I found the fix and cleared the stuck installer. Other then that no issues.

I knew 32 bit apps were on the way out so I’d cleared them out a while back. It was a non issue for me.

For the last few days, a week or so, I’ve been running on Catalina and had no problems.