macos Catalina

Updated: 9 Dec 2020

This is a new FAQ for the Apple Mac OS 10.15 called Catalina . This should answer any common questions for newcomers that are using Apple's Mac range of computers.
It is named after the Catalina island near Los Angeles off California.

macos Catalina

1. What is macOS Catalina?

Mac OS is Apple's operating system for their Apple iMac range of computers. It uses a combination of technologies including Mach, NetBSD, FreeBSD, NeXT, and Cocoa.
The current Apple iMac range now use Intel hardware and processors. macOS Mojave the latest version of Mac OS using version number 10.15.

2. What differences are there with Catalina (10.15) and previous versions?

Like the last 5 versions of Mac OS, it is now completely Intel native and supports some new technology as well.

3. What are the minimum requirements to run Catalina on my iMac?

You need a Apple iMac that has a 64 bit Intel i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor, manufactured from late 2012 onwards and supports 64 bit EFI and Metal.
For memory, you need at least 2 GB of RAM (4GB recommended). For hard disk space, you need at least 8.8 GB of free space to install Sierra.
For additional requirements, see Apple's Technical Specs.

4. How do I create a bootable USB disk with Catalina?

You can no longer create a bootable DVD but you can create a bootable USB stick. You can create it from the disk image from the Install macOS installation file you downloaded:

a) Locate the Mac OS X Catalina installation file in the Applications folder. If it is not there, download it again from the App Store.
b) Open the Terminal program and start a shell,
c) Insert a blank USB disc in your Mac.
d) Enter the following command in the Terminal window shell. Replace untitled with the name of your USB Stick:

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Catalina.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/Untitled --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High \Catalina.app --nointeraction

5. How do I install Catalina?

a) Open the AppStore icon in the dock.
b) Click on Sign In link in the Quick Links.
c) Click on macOS Catalina icon to purchase (it is free) and download the program (previous versions are available under Purchases).
d) The program may take an hour or so to download (approx 4 GB).
e) Open the Applications folder and you will find the Install macOS Catalina icon.
f) I would recommend backing up this file to an external disk if you want to use it again later and prevent having to download it again.
g) Run Install macOS Catalina to begin installation and follow the prompts.
h) If you have a free second partition, setup using DiskUtil, you can install Catalina on a 2nd disk and leave your current OS alone.

6. How do I use the Recovery feature?

When you boot up, press the Command-R key combination to enter HD Recovery mode. You can then select one of the following options: Restore from Time Machine Backup, Reinstall Mac OS X, Get Help Online (using Safari browser) or load the Disk Utility.

a) Time Machine Backup. This allows you restore an entire backup of your Mac OS X installation, applications and files back to a hard disk partition of your choice.
b) The Reinstall Mac OS X will reinstall Mac OS X but it doesn't include all the files to restore, so it will need network access to download the necessary files from the AppStore.
c) Get Help Online will open Safari so that you have access to the Internet to access instructions and other information to allow you to restore your Mac.
d) Disk Utility will open the disk tool to partition or repair your hard disk.

7. What applications can I run on macOS Catalina?

Mac OS can run Intel 64 bit applications. Most of the 64 bit apps for Mac OS X Sierra or later should be able to run on Catalina.
32-bit applications, components or plug-ins will no longer run. 32 bit programs will show a No Entry sign on the program icon.

Applications included with Catalina: Books, Calculator, Calendar, Chess, Contacts, Dictionary, DVD Player, Facetime, Font Book, iBooks, Image Capture,
Launchpad, Mail, Maps, Messages, Mission Control, Music, News, Notes, Photo Booth, Photos, Podcasts, Preview, Quicktime Player, Reminders, Safari, Siri, Stickies, System Preferences, Stickies, Time Machine, TV, Voice Memos and Utilities.

For example:
a) Office Applications. For Microsoft Office, you need at least Office 365, 2016 or 2019. You can also use iWork, Open Office, Libre Office and Neo Office 2017.
b) Apple Garageband, iMovie, and Photos are available from the App Store.
c) Adobe Creative Suite. Use the latest Creative Cloud 2019.
d) Media Players. As well as iTunes and Quicktime, you can download new versions of players such as VLC Player, Real Player and Switch (for WMP files).
e) Accounting. Latest Quicken should work on Mac OS and Home/Business Accountz.
f) DTP. See Scribus, Adobe CC InDesign, and for Quark XPress you need version 2019 or later.
g) Graphics. See Adobe CS 2019 for Photoshop, Photoshop Elements 2019 or Gimp.
h) Games. See games on the App Store or from Steam Powered and Mac Games World.
i) Database. See Tap Forms 5 or File Maker.
j) Visualization. See Parallels Desktop, VMWare Fusion, VirtualBox or CrossOver.
k) Development. See XCode, Unity 3D, Python, Java and many others.

A complete list of tested applications can be found on RoaringApps.

NB: This list will be updated as and when apps are tested as compatible.

8. How to I accessed shared resources on Windows systems from my Mac?

Windows computers uses a protocol called SMB (Simple Message Block) and CIFS (Common Internet Filing System) to share resources such a files and folders. On a Windows computer, this uses the Microsoft Client for Networks. Shares can be accessing using the format \\computername\sharename.

Apple Macs can also use SMB/CIFS. To access a Windows share, select CMD+K (to select Go to Server) and enter smb://servername/sharename (you can use an IP address instead of a servername). If you forget the smb: part, it will use the default AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) which will only work on shared Mac resources.

To configure SMB or CIFS, make sure you have configured the Computer Name (hostname) correctly on the Mac (preferably with no spaces) in the Sharing control panel and enable Windows Sharing or File Sharing. In Options, enable Shares file and folders using SMB (Windows). You will also need to create and enable Accounts and set up Read/Write permissions to allow access to shared folders.

To configure membership of a Workgroup and set up a short NetBIOS name, you can do this in the Networks control panel. Select the adapter (e.g. Ethernet), click on Advanced and select the WINS tab to configure a NetBios Name and Workgroup. Not setting the workgroup name, can prevent access to SMB shares or logging in over the network.

SMBX in Mac OS X supports SMB1 and SMB2 but not the old NT Domain Controller features (most people will not use these features any way). Apple has replaced SMB with SMBX due to issues with the GPLv3 licensing requirements.

Use the terminal command 'smbd' to view logs when using smb client.

9. How do I secure may Mac from hackers, viruses and other threats?

You can do several things, including enabling the Firewall in the Security control panel. Make sure that Software Updates are regularly checked and applied and install some security software to check against viruses and malware:
a) McAfee LiveSafe or All Access for Mac which includes SiteAdvisor, a Firewall and anti-virus products.
b) VirusBarrier and Internet Security Barrier products from Intego.
c) The new ClamXav 3 anti-virus scanner.
d) Norton Security from Symantec.
e) Kaspersky Total Security Multi-Device.
f) F-Secure Safe for the Mac.
g) Use Gatekeeper, and restrict app download from just the App Store or from trusted identified developers.

NB: This list will be updated as and when apps are tested as compatible.

10. How do I check that my NAS backup device is compatible?

NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices are very useful for storing large amounts of data and for backups. OS X Lion has changed the protocols for AFP Netatalk to 2.2 which may break older NAS devices. To ensure that you can connect to your NAS with Lion, please update the firmware and software for your NAS devices. There are also updates for the AFP DHX2 Authentication for Synergy DiskStation Manager , QNAP and DROBO products. Use CIFS protocol instead of SMB for faster file access.

11. The Java client is missing, where can I download Java from?

Java is now a separate install for Mac OS X. You can download it from Apple Support, or Oracle Java website.
The recommended version is Java 8.

12. The Flash Player is not installed, where can I download it from?

You can install the latest Flash Player from Adobe's website from within Safari or Firefox browser.
Please note that the Flash Player will be auto-disabled in browsers from 2020. Try HTML5 and Adobe AIR.

13. What media player software is available to play videos, podcasts and photos?

Applications include Apple TV, Plex, and Kodi (aka XBMC).

14. How do I get and install Microsoft Office on High Sierra?

Office 2019 and 365 is available from the Apple App Store or the Microsoft Mac site.
See these instructions on installing Office 365 or Office 2019.

15. How do I sync my phone with Mac OS?

In Catalina, use the finder and select Location to find your device and sync up your device.
You can use the new iCloud functionality to sync your contacts, calendar and documents with your Mac.
If you use an Android phone, you can use a tools such as Google Play Music Manager or Google Drive. See this tutorial for more info.

17. How do I download the latest updates for Mac OS?

Simple, open the System Preferences, Software Updates tab to check for and download and install updates.
For app updates, use the App Store, and select Updates or check on the application's home page.

18. Where can I get the latest games for my Macintosh?

There are plenty of games to play on the Mac, try Mac Games Store, Steam Powered and the Apple Store for starters. For free and shareware games try CNET Version Tracker, FreeCiv and GitHub.

19. How do I install third party drivers to Mac OS?

Unlike Windows which has a Device Manager tool, Mac OS X can only install drivers via publicly available installation packages provided by the Manufacturer. To add other drivers, you need to add a Kernel Extension, also known as a kext package, to Mac OS X's /System/Library/Extensions folder with a driver and Info.plist which is a XML file with details about the device. See OSx86 web page on how to do this.

20. How do I use the Sidecar feature?

You can use an iPad as a second screen for your iMac. It can be added wirelessly or connected via a USB cable.
Click on the AirPlay icon on the menu bas or use the Sidecar preferences in connect it your Mac.
The iPad should now show an extension of the desktop and move windows between the devices.
You can also use Mirror to display the same content on both screens to share with others, see AirPlay options to select mirror.

21. Where can I find the Boot Camp drivers?

Use BootCamp Assistant to download drivers for Windows 10. You need at least a late 2012 Mac and the latest BootCamp drivers.

22. How do I access iCloud from my Mac or device?

You need to use the iCloud preferences to enable access, then setup your Apple ID and configure which items to synchronize with the cloud storage.
You can enable Mail and Notes, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Photo Stream, Documents and Data for syncing.

23. How do I apply Software Updates?

In Mac OS X, software updates are now part of the App Store program, click on the Updates tab to list your latest updates for Mac OS X and any Apps.
Settings for updates are still found in the System Preferences, Software Update and a button to 'Show Updates'. To view your installation history, you now need to open
the System Information tool and look in Software, Installations which displays a list of applications, versions, source and install date.

24. How do I reinstall my Apps after re-installing Mac OS X?

If your applications came on CD or DVD, insert the disc and depending on the application install the application or copy it to the Application folder.
If the application was a download from a third party website, re-download it and re-install it.
If the application came from the App Store, then enter your Apple ID and password and click on Purchases to find your existing purchases and re-install them.

25. How do I install Mac OS X Server?

Mac OS X Server can be purchased for $19.99 from the Apple OS X Server site. It includes the following applications: File Sharing, Profile Manager, Caching Server 2,
Xcode server, Time Machine, Wiki Server, Calendar,Contacts and Mail Server, Xsan 3, VPN Server, Messages Server and NetInstall.

Secure Shell and secure FTP server features can be enabled via the Remote Login settings on the Sharing system preferences.
Web server features can be enabled by enabling Web Sharing on the Sharing system preferences.
Additional server applications are available separately include MySql Server , BIND DNS server, and Open VPN.

Removing the Server components from the Mac can be done wither manually or via an uninstaller tool. See uninstall mac os x server.

26. How do I use the new Siri feature?

Siri is the new voice recognition system for macOS. Siri has been a feature on IOS for sometime, you can use it to control your mac and locate your files.
Click on the Siri icon on the Dock or menu bar and speak into the microphone clearly, and let it do the rest! More detailed instructions at Apple Support.

27. How do I use the Screen Time feature?

Open Settings, Screen turn on Screen Time, click Continue and select My Device or This is my Child's device.
You can then get a report of how the device(s) are used when accessing apps and websites at any time.
You can use Family Sharing to configure child's device from your device.

28. Can I use the new Apple File System (APFS)?

Yes, APFS is now the new default file system, which replaces HFS+. It will work with SSD, Fusion Drives and Hard disks and macos will auto convert them to APFS.

29. Can I run IOS apps on Mac OS now?

There are four apps currently available to run on Mac OS: Home, News, Voice Memos and Stocks. See iPadian to run IOS apps on Mac or Window.

30. What is in the latest MacOS X update?

MacOS 10.15.1 (Oct 2019)
Includes 70 new or updated emoji, support for AirPods Pro, added to Home app: Homekit Secure Video, control of Homekit accessories over router and Airplay 2 support.
Siri privacy settings to control and store Siri or Dictaction interactions, delete Siri history and a number of bug fixes.

MacOS 10.15.2 (Dec 2019)
Includes new layout for Apple News and more stories, Stocks updates, Music - column browser, iTunes remote added for IOS devices, Photos fixes, Mail fixes, and others

MacOS 10.15.3 (Jan 2020)
This update optimizes gamma handling of low gray levels on Pro Display XDR for SDR workflows, and improves multi-stream video editing performance.

MacOS 10.15.4 (Apr 2020)
This update introduces iCloud Drive sharing, Screen Time limits, Apple Music timed lyrics view, and security updates.

MacOS 10.15.5 (Jun 2020)
This update adds battery health, video tile prominence of video tiles on FaceTime, calibration of Pro Display XDR and security updates.

MacOS 10.5.6 (Jul 2020)
This update adds local news to you Today feed, more stories from local news with subscriptions with Apple News+, personalized news stories.

MacOS 10.5.7 (Sep 2020)
This update resolves an issue with MacOS connecting to WiFi networks, resolves a file sync issue with iCloud Drive, fix a graphics issue on iMac with Radieo Pro 5700XT.

Please visit the Apple Web site or use App Store and select Updates to get new updates.


More information about MacOS 10.15 Catalina (due Sept/Oct 2019).

Go to Mac OS X 10.14 - Mojave
Go to Mac OS X 10.13 - High Sierra
Go to Mac OS X 10.12 - Sierra
Go to Mac OS X 10.11 - El Capitan
Go to Mac OS X 10.10 - Yosemite
Go to Mac OS X 10.9 - Mavericks
Go to Mac OS X 10.8 - Mountain Lion
Go to Mac OS X 10.7 - Lion

Go to Mac OS FAQ

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