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Troubleshooting MacOS Catalina Problems

Troubleshooting MacOS Catalina problems

Some Mac users have reported a variety of problems with MacOS Catalina, ranging from installations getting stuck or taking abnormally long, to problems with some apps not working, to issues with certain printers or accessories no longer working, App Store difficulties, iCloud and Apple ID issues, amongst other nuisances.

While installing and using MacOS Catalina goes fine for most users, that is no solace if you are experiencing problems with a particular Mac and the new MacOS 10.15 release. Below we will discuss a variety of reported issues and problems with MacOS Catalina, and offer various troubleshooting methods to attempt to resolve those difficulties.


Before perusing this guide or attempting any troubleshooting method, be sure to back up your Mac and all data first. Failure to backup data can result in permanent data loss.

MacOS Catalina Won’t Download or Shows “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg”

If you are attempting to download MacOS Catalina and it fails with a “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg” error message, it may be related to third party firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware software running on the Mac.

Temporarily disable the third party software that is a firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware protection, and then relaunch System Preferences to check for the download again and MacOS Catalina should arrive as expected.

Note that some Macs may need to be restarted after third party protection software is disabled, depending on the software and how it works. In that case, after rebooting the Mac return to System Preferences in the Software Update section to download MacOS Catalina as expected.

MacOS Catalina won’t install because “There is not enough free space on Macintosh HD to install”

If you do not have sufficient free disk space available on the Mac hard drive, you will not be able to install MacOS Catalina.

Aim to have at least 15GB freely available to complete the installation of MacOS Catalina.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stalls on “Estimating time remaining…”

A fair number of people have reported that MacOS Catalina installation takes longer to install than they were expecting, or longer to install than prior MacOS installations. A common symptom of this is the Mac is apparently stuck on “Estimating time remaining…” when trying to install MacOS Catalina.

If you see the “Estimating time remaining…” screen when trying to install MacOS Catalina, be patient. It’s unlikely the installer is actually stuck, so just let it sit, and if it’s a MacBook Pro or Air make sure it is connected to a power source.

Let the Mac sit for however long it takes to complete the installation of Catalina, it may take several hours. The Mac will automatically boot into MacOS Catalina when finished installing.

There are mixed reports that the MacOS Catalina installation has taken anywhere from 45 minutes to over 12 hours to complete, how long it takes on a particular machine likely depends on many factors, including computer speed, internet connection speed, the Mac OS version being updated from, and more, thus it’s best to initiate the installation when there is plenty of time available to allow the Mac to complete installation.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck on “Less than one minute remaining”

Some users report that installing MacOS Catalina gets stuck on a black screen with an  Apple logo and progress bar, stating there is less than a minute remaining to complete the installation.

If you see this screen, let the Mac sit and wait for a substantial amount of time before attempting to intervene.

If the Mac is still stuck on “Less than one minute remaining” after many hours (let it sit overnight if you can), and you have a full backup of your data, try powering down the Mac and then turning it back on again. It may boot directly into the MacOS Catalina setup screen. It also may fail to boot entirely, in which case you’ll need to reinstall MacOS system software with Internet Recovery (you can also try to reinstall MacOS Mojave through regular recovery too), or restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck or Fails with “The operation couldn’t be completed. (PKDownloadError error 8.)”

This error has been reported to occur during installation of MacOS Catalina if the internet connection is disrupted or disconnected.

Insure that the Mac has an active wi-fi or ethernet connection and that the internet works as expected, and then try installing MacOS Catalina again.

MacOS Catalina Stuck on “Setting Up Your Mac” Screen After Install

Let it sit for at least several hours, it may resolve itself.

If a after hours pass, force reboot the Mac by turning the computer off, then turning it back on again

Mac Running MacOS Catalina Randomly Crashes & Restarts

Some Mac users are reporting their Mac is crashing and restarting itself, particular when the Mac is left unattended for a period of time.

This random crash/freezing/restarting issue appears to happen more often on newer Macs with T2 security chips, or with Macs with a Radeon Pro Vega GPU, but it has been reported on other Mac models as well.

There are various discussion threads on Apple Support Forums here about this, but there is not yet any clear explanation or solution to this problem.

Reinstalling MacOS Catalina may help.

If any updates come available to MacOS Catalina, be sure to install those right way (ie: MacOS Catalina 10.15.1, 10.15.2, etc), as they may resolve the problem.

Downgrading to MacOS Mojave may also be a workaround to some users, though that is obviously not desirable or practical for many users.

Frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” Requests

Some users have reported a frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” pop-up message, informing them that some services will not be available until they sign-in again. Then after signing in again, the popup returns.

Update Apple ID settings in Mac OS Catalina message

If you encounter frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” alerts, first try restarting the Mac.

If the “Update Apple ID Settings” alert message continues still, back up the Mac (if you haven’t done so already), then go to System Preferences and logging out of the Apple ID, rebooting the Mac, then logging back in again.

Be aware that signing out of an Apple ID may cause issues with synced data over iCloud, including iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, iCloud Photos, and other iCloud syncing.

Persistent iCloud Password Requests

Some users have reported issues with persistent Apple ID and iCloud password requests.

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Open System Preferences > go to iCloud settings > and login to iCloud directly.

You may also need to log out and then log back into iCloud via System Preferences, but be aware that doing so can cause issues with iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, and other iCloud syncing.

Some Mac Apps Don’t Work, “App Needs to be Updated” Error Message

Any 32-bit app that has not been updated to 64-bit will not work in MacOS Catalina.

When attempting to launch an app that does not work in MacOS Catalina, you will see an error message stating “(Name) needs to be updated”

App Needs to be Updated MacOS Catalina error message

This includes many older versions of popular apps like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc), Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and many smaller third party tools and utilities.

Additionally, many popular older Mac games are 32-bit and thus will not work on MacOS Catalina (unless they are updated for 64-bit support, which some developers have already stated will not happen with older software).

The only solution to this is to update the apps to 64-bit versions, or to find alternative applications. Or, more extreme, would be to downgrade from MacOS Catalina, but that’s a sizable hassle.

Printers, Scanners, Accessories Incompatible or Don’t Work with MacOS Catalina

Some users have found that printers, scanners, and other hardware accessories are no longer working after updating to MacOS Catalina.

This may be related to the loss of 32-bit application support, as some older printers and drivers are not updated to 64-bit.

Numerous reports exist of various Brother, Epson, HP, and other printers and accessories are incompatible with MacOS Catalina currently.

A good first step would be to reach out to the manufacturer of the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory and see if new drivers or related software are available with MacOS Catalina compatibility.

If new Catalina compatible drivers are available, install them to regain access to the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory.

Loss of iTunes Causing Issues with Music Playlists

Some users have reported that music playlists created from iTunes are not being imported or included in the new Music app of MacOS Catalina.

This may be a bug, or it could be an issue with the Music app not finding the playlist files from iTunes.

Some users have reported that simply quitting Music app and restarting the Mac has allowed their old iTunes playlists to surface in Music app as expected.

iTunes Removal Causing Issues with XML File Support & Third Party Music Apps

Some users of various music apps have reported that MacOS Catalina does not work with various music production and DJ apps.

This is apparently due to an issue with XML file support being removed from the new Music app.

If you rely on an application which requires iTunes or iTunes XML file support, consider avoiding MacOS Catalina for the time being, or until the apps you rely on are updated to support MacOS Catalina.

You can read more about this specific issue at The Verge if interested.

Mac App Store Showing “No Purchases”

Some Mac users are discovering that MacOS Catalina is not showing their purchased app history.

Sometimes simply rebooting the Mac can resolve this problem.

Otherwise, try logging out of the Mac App Store, quitting the App Store application, relaunching the App Store, then logging back into the Mac App Store again, to regain access to purchases.

Mac App Store no purchases error message

Mac App Store Showing “No Updates”

Some users have reported that the Mac App Store is erroneously showing a “No Updates” available message, despite having older versions of apps like iMovie installed that are not working without an update for full 64-bit compatibility.

Quitting the Mac App Store, then rebooting the Mac and relaunching the Mac App Store appears to resolve this problem.

Mac is Hot and Running Slow After Installing MacOS Catalina

This is likely due to the system reindexing files on the drive, and the system toll it takes to perform maintenance tasks that are necessary after reinstalling or updating MacOS system software.

Let this process complete, it may take a while, but the Mac should perform as expected when that background activity has finished.

Safari Can’t Connect to Websites, But Internet Works

Some third party firewall software and anti-virus apps may be causing issues with Safari and other apps accessing websites and the internet in general.

Try disabling those third party firewall and virus tools, then rebooting the Mac to see if the issue is resolved.

Additional MacOS Catalina Troubleshooting Ideas

Depending on the issue, you may want to try a few additional troubleshooting steps like:

MacOS Catalina is Unusable for Me, Help!

If you find MacOS Catalina totally unusable for whatever reason, you have a few options:

  • Restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup, which is perhaps the easiest and best method of reverting from MacOS Catalina
  • Reinstalling MacOS via Internet Recovery, which will attempt to reinstall the version of MacOS that came with the Mac
  • Erase the Mac and restore from Time Machine or a prior backup method to effectively downgrade from MacOS Catalina to the prior version of MacOS you had backed up
  • Contact official Apple Support for further assistance – Apple support techs and engineers may be able to resolve a problem for you that unaffiliated third party fan sites like this are not able to address

Are all of these problems common?

No, these are not commonly encountered issues with MacOS Catalina.

Perhaps the most common issue that may be experienced by users with MacOS Catalina is that some older apps will not work, because of the loss of 32-bit app support. The other issues discussed here are fairly rare.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to install MacOS Catalina then don’t assume you will experience any of the issues or problems discussed here. This is intended as a troubleshooting guide for problems that a small number of users are encountering, and by no means is representative of the wider MacOS Catalina user base or experience. You can use this guide to get ready and prepare for MacOS Catalina and download MacOS Catalina as soon as you’re ready for the software update. Or you can skip it for the time being, that’s OK too!

Did you experience any problems with MacOS Catalina? Were the above troubleshooting tips helpful for you? Let us know your thoughts, experiences, solutions, and difficulties with MacOS Catalina in the comments below!

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