04 Sep 2019

Beta Test

Apple announced macOS version 10.15.0, "Catalina." The public Beta test is available as of 24 June 2019. I don't install beta tests. This note will eventually describe how to update a computer from an older version of macOS to OS X 10.15 Catalina.

I have not installed Catalina on any computers. Probably won't for a long time. I have a 6-year-old computer that is too old to run Mojave or Catalina and is stuck on High Sierra.

The Beta Test version of Catalina has known problems. Don't use it for production. You could lose all data on the machine if there is a bug. Some programs will encounter bugs or won't work at all. Report any bugs you find to Apple.

In particular, Carbon Copy Cloner support for Catalina is not finished.

Catalina will ship with new Macs once it is in general release, probably in late September 2019.

New Features of Catalina

Catalina reorganizes your startup disk so that MacOS is stored on a read-only file system volume. This means that installing Catalina has to rewrite your storage, and that going back to Mojave or earlier will have to reverse these changes.

Should I Install Catalina?

Show Stoppers

Check MacInTouch for the latest status.

Installation Problems


What you Should Do Now to Get Ready for Catalina

Who Can Update

Not everyone can use the new OS version.

Plan your install

When you decide to install Catalina, do it carefully. You may find that there are issues that affect you: do your homework. Check MacInTouch to see if there are problems with macOS 10.15 that affect you.

Make sure you back up your entire disk before starting to install Catalina. Preferably to more than one place.

Make a list of the hardware you depend on, and search the web to check that each device will work. Older printers and scanners can have issues.

Leave yourself enough time. Upgrading will tie up your computer for a big part of a day. Installing takes an hour or two, but then your computer will be very slow until it re-does the Spotlight index and does a big backup up to Time Machine.

Particular issues before upgrading

Here is a partial list of minimum program versions needed for Catalina. For other programs, check product websites.

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ProgramMinimum VersionNotes
Aquamacs3.5 previewgraphics issues
Audacity2.3.232-bit at last
Adobe AcrobatXI Pro Support ended in 2017. Will not work: 32-bit program
Adobe PhotoshopCC Known problems. See below.
Adobe IllustratorCC Known problems. See below.

Adobe: Renting Instead of Buying

Adobe no longer sells regular application versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat. Instead they rent you a Creative Cloud subscription. Stop paying, the apps stop working.

There are alternatives to Adobe products.

Microsoft: Renting Instead of Buying

Microsoft wants to rent you "Office 365."

Quicken: Renting Instead of Buying

Quicken has moved to a rental model also. Banktivity 7 works for me.

Installing Catalina

================================================================ to be updated ================

  1. Clean up and update software before installing.
    • (If your Mac is running a very old version of OS X, you must install Snow Leopard 10.6.8 first, in order to get a version of Apple App Store that can download Mojave. Here is Apple's how to upgrade page.)
    • You can download the Mojave Installer from  ► App Store... => Updates. It is free. This downloads a large file, the Mojave Installer, to your disk. You can create a bootable installer volume on a USB key using these instructions. (But see the TidBits article "Previously Downloaded OS X Installers No Longer Work".) Apple's license terms say you can update all your computers with one purchase.
    • Get the applications on your computer ready for 10.15: apply the latest fixes.
    • Delete junk files. Carefully.
    • Delete Safari, iTunes, and Firefox caches, so your backup will be faster.
    • If you have customized your desktop background or screensaver, write down your settings. Some Apple-provided pictures may not be available in the next version.. make a safe copy of anything you will want after upgrading.
    • Empty the Trash.
    • Clean up damaged and duplicate fonts.
    • Have your software license keys handy in case you have to re-authorize products.

    For Programmers

    • If you use MySQL, back up the database with mysqldump databasename > db.sql. Then stop MySQL.
    • If you use Apache, save a copy of /etc/apache2/httpd.conf.
    • If you installed modules via CPAN, Macports, or Fink, make a list of them. In a Terminal window, type
      perldoc perllocal | grep :: > cpan_modules.txt
      port -qv installed > macports_packages.txt
    • The best way to handle Macports is to uninstall all the old ports and reinstall after updating the OS. After you list your installed ports, type
      sudo port -fp uninstall installed
      in a Terminal window.
  2. Backup and prepare.
    • BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE to an external disk. I used SuperDuper to clone my whole drive. Some cautious people make two backups.
    • If you are using an anti-virus product, disable it. Some anti-malware programs see the utility that converts HFS to APFS as malware, and prevent it from running. Since most anti-virus software is tightly integrated with the operating system, you may have to install a Mojave-specific version of your software after installing Mojave anyway. Check with the maker of your software.
    • If you installed a third-party Solid State Disk (SSD), check the manufacturer's website to see if you need to update its firmware to work with Mojave.
    • If you connect your Mac to the network using WiFi, select  ► System Preferences...=>Network=>Advanced and delete any WiFi networks you don't want to use. (If you don't, your computer may connect to a very slow network during installation, which will slow down your install.)
  3. Install
    • If you use a wireless mouse or keyboard, put in fresh batteries.
    • Set screen saver to NEVER, and turn off Time Machine.
    • Dismount and unplug or power off external drives.
    • Restart your computer. (I've had problems where my computer hangs on shutdown. Restarting seems to fix it for a while. Don't want this trouble when installing a new OS.)
    • Run the Mojave (macOS 10.14) installer. If you downloaded it, use that copy. Or you can just select  ► App Store and install by clicking on the link.
      • If FileVault is enabled on your computer, the installer will ask for a password to unlock the disk.
      • The installer will run for about 15 minutes, then reboot, then run for about an hour, then reboot again. Might ask for your password again.
      • The "time remaining" will show wildly varying estimates as the installer proceeds.
      • Don't panic if you see a gray screen with "30 minutes remaining" for an hour. Just let it run.
      • Eventually you will be presented with a login screen; enter your password.
      • You will see a window about privacy.
      • Next you will be asked if you want to send analytic information to Apple.
      • Then you will be asked if you want light mode or dark mode appearance. (You can change this later.)
      • Then the system will display your desktop. All your files and applications should be there.
    • If Mojave asks you if you want to "enable Desktop and Documents folder syncing to iCloud," the safest thing to do is to say NO. If you say YES, these folders will be backed up in iCloud and available on all devices, which you may not want, and saying YES may also enable "Optimize Storage" without asking, which will delete files from your computer's drive if it gets too full. Adam Engst's TidBITS article on Optimized Storage is very helpful.
    • Select  ► App Store... to update to latest versions of Apple software, then run it again to make sure all software is updated. (might take another hour) This step may find additional OS and application updates.
    • Do a "smoke test" to verify that your computer is working OK. Make sure the applications you depend on are still working. Try out the applications from Apple that were updated with the OS. If you have trouble, restore your backup and go back to the old OS version.
  4. Recover
    • The first time you execute old versions of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, you may see an alert box that tells you that you have to install Java 6 first (even if you have Java 8 installed). Click "more Info" and download and install the update. It won't hurt anything.
    • Wait for Spotlight to finish indexing (may take several hours). Performance will suck till it finishes.
    • Turn on Time Machine and start your backup.
    • You don't have to repair disk permissions with Disk Utility any more. In fact, you can't; the option is gone.
    • Restart the computer. Often this speeds things up.

Post Install Tasks

Once you are satisfied that your computer works acceptably, and you are going to stay on Catalina, you can make some adjustments.


You will probably want to set up per-user customizations, such as your desktop background and screensaver. After each new OS generation this is something of an adventure; functions get renamed and moved around.

Security issues

================================================================ to be updated ================ Catalin reorganizes your startup disk so that MacOS is stored on a read-only file system volume. This means that transitioning to Catalina has to move things around, and that going back to Mojave or earlier will be difficult.

Some kinds of security certificates are no longer accepted. These are the ones using SHA-1, which is deprecated.


Re-Installing Programming Tools

================================================================ to be updated ================

If you use your computer for programming, you'll need to re-install your tools, which may have release dependent parts. The order presented here worked for me.

  1. In Terminal, type the command java. If you don't have Java 8 installed, this action will bring up a dialog box: click More Info to bring up the Oracle JDK installation page in a web browser, and trigger the installation of the Java 8 JDK from Oracle over the Internet. (check this) Java is needed for Eclipse and for other Mac applications, such as OpenOffice and some Adobe products, and VPN clients such as Cisco. Java is not dangerous, if you use it to run code you trust: using it to run web page animations has had some problems.
  2. Install the full Xcode package using the App Store, and then install the Xcode command line tools from the Xcode menu. This will take a long time, about an hour. (Just using xcode-select won't work for some complex installs, which look for system header files installed by Xcode.)
  3. MacPorts: see my instructions for MacPorts. Basically the procedure is to list your ports and uninstall them before upgrade, install the OS, reinstall MacPorts, and reinstall your ports. MacPorts may install new versions of Perl, Python, or Ruby required by ports: set PERL5LIB correctly or installs will fail with messages about variants. If you use Fink or Homebrew this is when you would update them.
  4. MySQL: Version 8.0.14 is supplied by Oracle for Mojave. See the instructions for installing MySQL. If you dumped your database, reload it with mysql < db.sql. MySQL has to be installed before you can install DBD::mysql with CPAN.
  5. MaxMind: If you use Perl module MaxMind::DB::Reader::XS, you must download and install libmaxminddb from before installing the MaxMind module with CPAN. (I had trouble doing this. The instructions say to do ./configure but no such file is provided. Luckily the file left over from Sierra still works.) Install any other libraries that are used by Perl modules at this point.
  6. Perl/CPAN: If you use Perl and Perl modules, install them. Perl 5.26.2 is installed by MacPorts as it installs various modules. See the instructions for installing CPAN for a list of modules I use. This is the time to install Python and Ruby libraries also.
  7. Apache web server:
    • Apache 2.4.34 is provided with Mojave, but is not automatically started and there is no System Preferences interface to enable it.
    • The Mojave install will not carry over your old Apache customizations. diff /etc/apache2/httpd.conf against your saved copy and edit as necessary.
    • Start Apache using the terminal command sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.apache.httpd.plist. The -w means make it permanent across restarts. (I got a fussy message when I did this, but the web server was running.)
    • PHP 7.1.19 is shipped with Mojave but disabled in httpd.conf. You can enable it by uncommenting LoadModule php7_module libexec/apache2/ I sometimes enable PHP in order to debug programs that will be deployed in safe environments on other computers. If you enable it, be aware of the risks of making PHP available on the Internet from your Mac, and track and install security updates.
  8. Screen saver: if you patched the duration of a screen saver slide, as I did, you will have to reapply the patch. You will have to disable SIP to do this, and then re-enable it after patching.

Catalina Observations

to be updated

Microsoft Office


New Features and Changes


to be updated


to be updated


New Features:

Login Screen

to be updated

Apple News

New Feature: This is a new application for Macs, very similar to the iOS application. I tried it out, and then discovered that it would pop up notifications about news, even when the app was not running. I had to go into Notifications preferences and turn this off.

I used it, and its iPhone sibling, for several months and decided I didn't like it.

Bugs and Surprises in Catalina

to be updated


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Notifications and Photos

to be updated


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About This Mac

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to be updated

Removed Features

to be updated

Planning for the next version

The next macOS version will released in Fall 2020.

Keep a list of the software and devices you use and depend on, so you can check that they are supported.

Home | FAQ © 2010-2019, Tom Van Vleck updated 2019-09-04 10:37