Readers Report on macOS Catalina Install Issues

macOS Catalina
Catalina is macOS 10.15.

Some readers have sent me reports of macOS Catalina install problems.


My take so far is that macOS Catalina 10.15.0 is having more teething problems than macOS Mojave (10.14) did. Here are a few specific stories sent to me that sound odd, even for a dot zero release.

Reader #1 – Install.

This morning I downloaded the Catalina installer. I quit the install when the application launched. I gave a copy of the install application to [my wife]. We have used the process many times in the past for previous OS updates. Never had any problem. But that was before Apple moved the OS update back to System Prefs.

After over 5 hours, her iMac never got past 1/6 on the progress bar and just said “Estimating time remaining…” with no time. We finally cycled the power on her Mac and the same install progress bar appeared. This time it briefly said “31 minutes remaining” and then went back to the “Estimating time remaining…” with no time and the same 1/6 progress.

He subsequently recovered with a bit of fussing and got Catalina installed. But it was painful.

Reader #1 – Mail. Referring to a Tidbits article on Mail issues. “Beware Mail Data Loss in Catalina.

I wonder if this could explain the problem I’ve been seeing with iCloud email (IMAP) since doing the iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 updates. After I move or delete messages on the Mac (Mojave) or devices, frequently those same messages still appear on the devices or Mac, even hours later. What is really strange is that the bogus messages that still appear in the Inbox on the iPhone/iPad will move to the Trash folder on the device when I delete them from the Inbox.

Reader #2 – Install, Music

… my install (on a pretty much brand new iMac) went amazingly smoothly, no scary dialogs, nothing went wrong, and after about an hour and a quarter of never touching the machine, I was running Catalina. And, THAT’s when my problems started happening!

The Music app (which used to be iTunes) came up, showed me my whole library, but all albums didn’t have artwork…a little bottom left portion of the Music app showed “Loading Artwork”, and it did very slowly, and while it was doing it, its memory footprint grew and grew and grew (as verified with Activity Monitor), and then Music quit on its own, and the Mac presented a dialog asking me what other apps I wanted to quit since I ran out of application memory (of course, since it quit Music on its own, quitting anything else wouldn’t help.)

Anyway, found lots of little annoyances, forgetting of preferences, no feedback on syncing with an iPad (you used to see “syncing photos, 1 of 3000, syncing contacts, etc” but none of that. As soon as you plug in your iPad, it starts syncing and even if you un-check auto-sync when you plug the device in, it still goes off and does something (but with no feedback, you’re never sure what it does.) It screws up checkboxes on which ebooks you want to sync, etc. Also, the method you used to use to choose different iTunes music libraries no longer seems to work (or works differently in a way I don’t know.) But, the install went great!

Other Known Issues

Macintouch has a wealth of information about Catalina install issues. That website also cites “Apple Mail bugs wiping out messages (a very big problem with IMAP sync affecting other devices and lack of local storage)…” as well as issues with “large iTunes library conversion.” Check this discussion before you update a mission critical Mac.

Final Words

Considering how Apple opens new versions of macOS for beta testing for months before release, it seems odd that things aren’t going more smoothly with Catalina. Perhaps the beta testing process isn’t working the way it should. Or perhaps the new security methods in Catalina are causing unexpected issues for edge cases. In any case, it looks like it may be wise to wait until 10.15.1, already in beta, in a few weeks.

If you have any interesting notes on your own Catalina install, let me know.

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It’s not surprising that some macOS Catalina issues have arisen after its release. Those common enough with newly-released operating systems, which is why many users wait a while before installing the latest OS. According to barcode scanner app you’re one of the few who’ve installed it on your MacBook or Mac early on and now experiencing issues, you’ve come to the right spot.


I updated, and aside from one small bug during installation that I cleared fairly easily, it’s running fine.


Hello there! I just can’t download it, it freezes along the way. I have given up so far, I will wait for at least a month before trying again. I can’t remember if this has ever happened with any OS download before. Cheers!

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Given all of the portent hosted by a number of sources, including here on TMO, I had decided to heed Bob Levitus’ advice not to upgrade unless one simply needed to, but wait for at least the next update. My concern was less about 64-bit app compatibility, as all of my core productivity apps were compliant, than it was about rumours of bugginess with the system. Following John and Dave’s excellent discussion on MGG, however, and a few other reads, I decided to pull the trigger. To Dirty Harry’s fundamental question, I answered yes, I was feeling lucky. I… Read more »

Lee Dronick

They should have stayed with ProDOS:

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