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How to Prepare for MacOS Catalina

How to prepare for MacOS Catalina

Are you ready to install MacOS Catalina on your Mac? Now that MacOS Catalina 10.15 is now available to download, you may be wondering whether or not you’re ready to update to the latest system software release, and perhaps you’re looking for some guidance on how to get ready for the MacOS 10.15 update.

This article will walk through some important steps to prepare a Mac for updating to MacOS Catalina. We’ll also discuss some other options, like dual booting, or holding off on installing the update for a while.

How to Get Ready for MacOS Catalina in 5 Easy Steps

We’ll run through checking system compatibility, looking for incompatible apps, updating apps, backing up the Mac, and installing MacOS Catalina 10.15.

1: Check System Compatibility

You’ll want to be sure your Mac supports MacOS Catalina, as not all hardware does.

From the list of MacOS Catalina supported Macs here, you can see that for the most part any Mac built after 2012 supports MacOS Catalina.

You’ll also want to be sure you have at least 15GB of free storage space available on the drive to be able to download and install the MacOS Catalina update.

2: Check for 32-bit Apps

MacOS Catalina will only run 64-bit applications, meaning any 32-bit apps on the Mac will no longer run.

If you have a critical 32-bit app, either find out if a new 64-bit version is available, or consider delaying the update to Catalina. This can include many important major apps that some users rely on, like Adobe Photoshop CS6, and some older versions of Microsoft Office and other older significant apps.

You can easily find all 32-bit apps on a Mac with the System Information tool if you aren’t sure.

You can also use a free third party app called Go64 to check for Mac apps that are not entirely 64-bit.

Be aware that some apps may report they are 64-bit yet they still have 32-bit components and thus won’t work in Catalina (like Adobe Photoshop CS6).

3: Update Your Apps

You’ll want to make sure you update your apps before (and after) installing MacOS Catalina. This is always a good idea in general, but it’s particularly true since 32-bit applications are no longer supported by MacOS Catalina.

You can update apps from the Mac App Store by opening the App Store application and going to the “Updates” tab.

Use the App Store

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Updating apps obtained elsewhere often require updating through the app itself, or through the developer or manufacturers website.

4: Backup the Mac

Backing up your Mac is essential before installing any system software update, but having sufficient backups is particularly important if you’re planning on installing a new major version of macOS. Backups make sure you can roll back if something goes wrong, and help to prevent permanent data loss.

You can learn how to setup Time Machine for Mac backups here.

Time Machine in Mac OS X
Time Machine requires an external hard drive to be connected to the Mac to backup on a regular schedule, so if you don’t have one yet then you might want to go shopping for an external hard drive on Amazon or your favorite retailer.

5: All Ready? Install MacOS Catalina!

Have you checked compatibility of your Mac and critical apps? Backed up your Mac? Updated your apps? Then you’re ready to update to MacOS Catalina!

MacOS Catalina is available as a free download, you can find it in the Software Update control panel and from the Mac App Store.

MacOS Catalina available to download and install

Note that some features in MacOS Catalina like Sidecar rely on an iPad running iPadOS 13 or later, and some older iPad and Mac models don’t support that feature at all.

Also… Consider Downloading a Spare Copy of MacOS Mojave Installer

If you’re running MacOS Mojave but plan on avoiding the MacOS Catalina update for now, it can be a good idea to download a copy of the Mojave installer file and keep it archived somewhere. Here is how to download MacOS Mojave installer on a Mac that is already running MacOS Mojave. This can be helpful particularly for advanced users, if they ever would like to reinstall Mojave, create a USB boot drive for that OS version, or just keep an archive of available system software installers available.

Did you find these suggestions helpful for preparing for MacOS Catalina? Did you install Catalina? Are you waiting for the first point release update, or are you skipping Catalina for now? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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