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.

4 thoughts on “Readers Report on macOS Catalina Install Issues

  • 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!

  • 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 verified that day’s bootable backup from Carbon Copy Cloner, looked at Crash Plan’s online backup, my working files on Drop Box, and Time Machine and proceeded with the Catalina download and installation onto my 2017 Touch Bar MBP.

    In my case, I decided to let it run overnight. Next morning, I was greeted with the Catalina login page, and ran through the post installation checklist for settings. The only two things of note were:

    1) Catalina could not locate my Photos folder, despite my directing it to it. This struck me as possibly something corrupted in memory, rebooted and Catalina found the folder just fine.
    2) Many of the non-essential apps that Go64 flagged as not yet upgraded to 64-bit open and ran just fine, so it Go64 must have been showing me legacy versions. The one ancient app that I still used was HourWorld, had heard from the developer a couple of years back that he would not be upgrading it any further, and this one was indeed dead. Otherwise, there were loads of pleasant surprises.

    If anything, Catalina has been more stable for certain things, like verification of my iCloud account and other settings, retaining my ability to login with my Apple Watch, than was Mojave. The only quirk that appears every now and then is that the screen will freeze (it’s happened two or three times since installation) when I’m using Safari. This could be an issue around memory management – my machine is maxed out at 16GB RAM for that series.

    Dave Hamilton had mentioned changes with Mail, which I did not see. Perhaps he intended that one would see changes only if they had continued using Classic format. My Mail app was identical in form and function to the last iteration.

    In any case, I have been happy with the upgrade and find it aesthetically and functionally more pleasing than even Mojave, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    I haven’t yet installed it onto my wife’s 2015 11” MBA. Given that she’ll rely on me for troubleshooting, and is happy with Mojave, I’ll simply wait for the next update to Catalina.

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