Catalina, I wish I'd never installed it

I’ve had it with it.

Quite apart from the intermittent not seeing the Time Machine drive that was directly attached via USB…

I had recurring crash emerge since installing Catalina, every time the Mac sleeps, ie ten times a day, it will crash with the report

“panic(cpu 6 caller 0xffffff7f8879cad5): userspace watchdog timeout: no successful checkins from in 120 seconds”

I’ve been through Apple Support three times

  • the SMC, PRAM…
  • Re-install the OS
  • Reformat the drive, reinstall the OS, restore from Time Machine

And still it continues.

Now MailMate won’t launch. Pages won’t launch. Path Finder won’t launch.

The Apple Discussion forums are filled with this ‘watchdog’ issue but the support team seem unaware of this. They put me through their series of steps. Frankly I suspect their next step is send it in to us.

I have to work out how to downgrade to Mojave.


Yeah, I still haven’t updated my iMac or my MacBook Pro, though I have a Catalina volume on my MacBook Pro. I don’t know what to do. I have to be able to cover Catalina and future versions, but Catalina seems hopelessly broken and Apple seems to have no intention to turn back.

But it’s not like any other ecosystem is better. Windows is as much of a mess as it’s ever been, only now with more spyware. Linux, er, GNU/Linux, is…Linux, and I do keep a ThinkPad with Arch around, but it’s not an OS I’d want to do my daily work on. It’s great for UNIXy things and various utilities macOS has broken, but image, audio, or video editing are agonizing.


All the very justifiable aggravation caused by Catalina I’ve been reading about here is another reason why I’m not considering a new Mac at the moment. The chances are very good that Apple will do a major revamp of the OS when the A chip models are released.

Apple should have fixed all that ails Catalina by now.

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So I have a question regarding the changes that Catalina does to Mac databases. I have a new MacBookAir that has Catalina installed. I have used the browser, but have refrained from opening: Notes, Reminders and Mail. For some reason, i had the idea that Catalina changes the Reminders and Notes databases. Is that a real memory or has that already happened when I updated my iOS?

I remain hesitant about opening Mail and do not really need it on that machine, so not a big deal.

Can TidBits run a “State of the Nation” report which summarises the current status with Catalina?

I have in recent times been cautious about moving to new major MacOS versions, but normally by now I would have made the leap. This time I do not feel that I can do so because of all the reports of really significant issues.

And because Apple are so unprepared to acknowledge failings even when they have been fixed, I fear that I will never be able to upgrade unless someone actually catalogues the problems and lets us know when they have been fixed.

TidBits, over to you? If not you, who?

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Just a suggestion: It is possible that something glitched during the installation. You can do an in-situ installation from the Recovery partition. This Apple Support article describes it:

I suggest the Option-⌘-R approach (“ Upgrade to the latest macOS that is compatible with your Mac“).

Try it (after a backup) — can’t hurt, right?

What frustrates me about trying to pin down what is and is not broken with Catalina is that I’m not seeing reproducible problems. Mail remains the main thing that some people have issues with, but clearly most people aren’t suffering data loss. The issues with drives dismounting unexpectedly doesn’t seem to be limited to Catalina for at least some people.

And personally, I’m seeing an issue on two 2014 27-inch iMacs where Wi-Fi is inoperative (and no adapters appear in the Network pane of System Preferences) for 2-3 minutes after startup. Then it’s fine. But I can’t find indication of this being a widespread problem (or a solution, at the moment).


Hi Steve I’ve been through precisely this twice. I think there’s an issue elsewhere. A lot of the chatter on the Discussion fora on Apples support focus on peripherals, Monitors and drives, primarily. Which echoes the widely reported drive droppages elsewhere on this forum.

For IMAP users (, iCloud) and pseudo-IMAP users (gmail) some or all of Notes, Reminder, and Mail is stored on servers and replicated to local devices, so the database format on a particular machine is unrelated to function.
Disappearance of ‘on my Mac’ data is a separate issue, probably related to a procedural issue in an update process. Time Machine backups often serve well in helping restore this kind of data.

I was having those crashes/panics on my MBP 16, and also a bunch of times when my attached Dell monitor wouldn’t come on when it tried to wake from sleep (“no HDMI signal from device…”), and in looking into it I can across one thing that I tried and so far (at least a week?), neither has occurred since: I unchecked the box for “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” for both battery and when powered. Obviously won’t completely fix Catalina by itself (I wish it could give me column options in Mail back!), but it may help some.

“often serve well” is not a phrase I would want to risk my entire email history upon.

The only one of those that will cause issues is Reminders. If you allowed either Catalina or iOS13 to convert cloud based Reminders, they will no longer work with earlier macOS or iOS versions.

That is why one uses multiple backups. And, does not erase a bootable Mojave clone backup until long long after upgrading to Catalina.


That is also why one doesn’t immediately install an upgrade without insuring one will not have to spend massive time returning to an older system, and losing data in the interval prior to when one learned of the mistake.

I only updated after had sorted the last of my 32-bit apps. Catalina was long out before I jumped.

There comes a point where the bootable clone backup with the older OS outlives its usefulness. Like most of you I have my data on various cloud services or external drives but that doesn’t protect you against the many application updates, new installs etc. My mac is dynamic, always in flux, like my work. There’s too much change to revert to a five month old clone.

Especially when my issues with Catalina have been progressively worsening and difficult to replicate or pin down as Adam notes. Give me a boring steady OS any day. Tiger for example, that was dull but steady as a rock. There’s been stretches when it was broadly fine, but lately I’ve been through the wringer. On an iMac that cost just shy of 5k EU.

The ‘watchdog’ crash seems related to peripherals and I’ve tried unchecking ‘Put HDs to sleep’ and various other options from the Apple fora including deleting Google’s backup and sync app which cleared things up for a week. I thought I had it fixed but it returned over last weekend.

Off to get a Mojave installer and to see how to install that via Recovery or more likely a bootable installer.

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I have only noticed a few issues. Time. A nine to network volumes is intermittently working at best and won’t work at all to my iMac even though both it and the mini Which is the other destination have identical macOS versions and the shares are set up identically…the ones on the iMac allow selection for TM…but then give either a password bad error or an improper destination error. Regular shares from the iMac sometimes mount…and about half the time if I have the ‘data’ share mounted the ‘archive’ one says no access despite the connected account having full r/w access on both shares…usually a log out and in cycle on the laptop fixes this though.

Wake from sleep on my 15 rMBP sometimes just doesn’t work until the 2nd or third try.

The green charge light on the MBP MagSafe connector sometimes doesn’t illuminate even while charging… it this might predate Catalina.

IMO…macOS is now mature enough that we do t need a new version every year…just call it macOS and put out the ‘service pack’ sort of updates that MS does now… it do better QC on them…the Fall release schedule means things get pulled out at the last minute and releases have gotten buggier over the last few years…and for what? Few of the new ‘features’ are really worth the instability…and while I do wait a bit before installing now as opposed to 3-4 years back…one really cant stay too far behind or you lose out on security fixes.


Couldn’t agree more. Release updates when necessary. Release features when ready.


Not saying these are the same issues, but I observe both of those with my 2013 13" MBP on Mojave too.

The MagSafe light sometimes simply does not come on even though the Mac says it’s charging just fine. This is an older adapter (with the L-shaped plug, from a previous MBP, and using the MagSafe 1-2 adapter) so I’ve just assumed it’s getting flaky.

With my TB2 dock at work I usually work in clamshell mode. Every once in a while the MBP will simply not wake from sleep when I come back to the office and hook it up to the dock. I’ve never been able to figure out what the cause is. The Mac’s powered, but for some reason it will refuse to wake from sleep. Usually I have to open the lid, hit built-in keyboard keys, hit the power button, connect/disconnect the DP cable attached to the dock, connect/disconnect USB keyboard, or several iterations of that before it wakes. No idea WTH that is. It would be obvious to assume it’s related to TB, but I remember that even back in the day before TB I would sometimes encounter problems with waking from sleep in clamshell mode. Still a mystery to me.

Unfortunately, these seem to be persistent problems from Apple.

Mail has never once worked reliably for me. All the way back in Mac OS X 10.1, I found that Mail would frequently crash on me. No system update every fixed it. I eventually just gave up. Today, I generally use web-mail interfaces. I use Mozilla Thunderbird for those rare occasions where I need to use an actual app.

As for external hard drives dismounting in sleep, that’s another thing I’ve seen for many years. It seems to happen most often with USB drives (switching to Firewire interfaces helped enormously here), but I’ve seen it happen on all kinds of drives.

Similar problems with some kinds of USB devices (e.g. third-party keyboards) either preventing the computer from going to sleep or waking it up immediately after sleep.

I think Apple has had chronic problems with USB (especially with third-party peripherals) going all the way back to day-one and the Bondi Blue power Mac.

Sorry to be a happy camper – I’ve had all released versions of Catalina on an 11" Mid '12 MacBook Air, & a 13" 2017 MacBook Air – and never a crash or issue I could report.

I’m running 7 external HD’s – WD’s & Toshibas – a Cannon scanner, and Brother WiFi laser printer – my display is an ancient Samsung 21" connected via Thunderbolt on to a DVI. I’m just not seeing problems, I’m glad to say.

Even with Mail, nothing’s gone astray… Don’t use Time Machine, can’t report on that, nor iCloud. Installs have gone better than with Mojave or High Sierra…

I will echo Brian’s post here: in Energy Saver I never permit display or HD sleep, and prevent the Mac sleeping when display is off – which it often is…

It’s nice to be an exception – and no, I’m not feeling smug about it!

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