Before Upgrading your Mac to macOS Catalina [Updated]

Apple’s latest major release of macOS is around the corner. Supposedly launching this month, here is what you must do to prepare your Mac for macOS Catalina. But, first things first, is your Mac on the list of the supported machines? See for yourself.

Supported Macs for macOS Catalina upgrade
Supported Macs for macOS Catalina upgrade

Upgrade your backup strategy

Carbon Copy Cloner or CCC main window
Carbon Copy Cloner or CCC main window

First, make sure you have a Time Machine. Second, use software like Carbone Copy Cloner (CCC) to create an image of your hard drive to an external device. I highly recommend CCC for its simplicity and powerful features. Also, consider using an SSD as the backup target so if you need to boot from this backup, you’ll be grateful to have one otherwise booting your Mac will take forever. Oh, and if your boot device is using APFS, you must use an SSD for your target device anyway.

Remove old software

macOS Catalina does not support 32bits software. Searching for 32bits software installed and currently running on you Mac is easy: open up Activity Monitor and look at the “Kind” column at the right. If you see “32 Bits” somewhere, you must upgrade this application or it won’t work under macOS Catalina. You may have other applications not running that are still 32bits and won’t open at all once macOS Catalina is installed. The next step should help clean unwanted software.

Use activity monitor to spot non 64Bits applications
Use activity monitor to spot non 64Bits applications

The second part of this clean up process is to revisit all you applications sitting in your Applications folder (in /Applications folders on your hard drive and in your home directory too). Personally, I have many old applications that I no longer need and removing them will free up some space too. Before installing macOS Catalina, I recommend to get as much as 20 GB of free space on your main hard drive.

Free space on your hard drive
Free space on your hard drive

Click on the Manage button to bring up the following window where you can take action according to what is reported. Finally, consider moving stuff to iCloud Drive if you are a subscriber to this service.

If you love iTunes and depend on it for integration with other music making applications, stop right here. The reason? macOS Catalina simply replaces iTunes with three different apps: Apple Music, Podcasts and TV. You won’t be able to revert to iTunes.

Wait for updates

Next up, make a list of all the applications that you depend on. Make sure those applications are compatible with macOS Catalina. If you are not sure, look around on the developer’s website for hint about support status for macOS Catalina. My own list includes: Adobe Lightroom, MindNote, Cisco AnyConnect VPN client, VMware Fusion, Reeder, Pixelmator Pro, Microsoft Teams, Timing, Ulysses, Cisco Webex, Cisco Teams. Basically, this is all third-party apps sitting on my Dock. The following example shows the upgrade to the latest release of VMware Fusion 11.5.

VMware Fusion 11.5 release supports macOS Catalina
VMware Fusion 11.5 release supports macOS Catalina

If any of my most important applications are not compatible with macOS Catalina, I won’t upgrade my Mac until further notice. Simple as that.

Oh and by the way, some updaters are still in 32bits architecture. If you upgrade to macOS Catalina before updating these, you may be stuck trying to upgrade your favorites apps if their updater cannot even run. Look for Adobe updaters or Microsoft Office updaters updates.

Finally, don’t forget to look for utilities in your menu bar. These are apps that will need to be updated too.

I hope this short blog post helps you prepare you Mac for macOS Catalina.

[Update #1: Added iTunes replacement with Apple Music, Podcasts and TV app. If you use DJ software that interacts with iTunes, don’t upgrade to macOS Catalina just yet.]

[Update #2: If you are like me and you depend on Adobe Lightroom CC (the non-cloud version) or Photoshop, please don’t upgrade to macOS Catalina. More details here.]

[Update #3: There seems to be relatively widespread cases of mail lost while upgrading to macOS Catalina. If you depend on Mail for your work or in your personal life, please, read this before upgrading. ​

Are you upgrading to macOS Catalina when it comes out later this month? Leave a comment and engage discussion! Always welcomed!

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