Catalina..... To upgrade to or not?

I’m trying to learn a bit more before deciding whether to upgrade to Catalina (currently running Mojave 10.14.6) or postpone or skip entirely.

I’ve read or heard about many Catalina system operating issues, that my ScanSnap device is not compatible and needing to find replacements for the 32 bit apps are some reasons for my hesitancy. Plus I’m sure I don’t fully understand the benefits after just reading a few of the “what’s new” articles.

Any articles the experts here feel give an unbiased view?

Thanks much.

I think there is not much of a reason to upgrade to Catalina unless you need something that Catalina can do that Mojave cannot.

Truthfully, there are not that many Catalina-only apps. The “Mac Catalyst” initiative seems to have been a flop so far, presumably (at least in part) because the iOS 13 betas and the Catalina betas were so rough this summer that developers did not have a lot of time to work on bringing their iOS apps to Catalina – even if they wanted to.

I think Jason Snell’s article probably summarized the whole situation as well as anyone did

Here’s how he began his conclusion:

If there’s a must-have app that only runs on Catalina, or you want to use Voice Control or Screen Time or Find My or Apple Arcade, and all your go-to software checks out, then by all means, make the jump to Catalina. (I’ve been using it for the last month with only a few minor app incompatibilities that I expect to be resolved as updates roll out alongside the new release.) But if you can wait, you should. Let other people discover the early bugs and suffer the app incompatibilities. Catalina will still be there for you when you’re ready for it.

(I would encourage you to read the full article, if you have not already.)

Long story short: Catalina is the beginning of a new era for macOS, but there’s not much there yet. So you aren’t missing out on much by not upgrading, and there are several limitations and potential drawbacks.

So… wait.

Until you find that reason that compels you to upgrade.

(Personally, I am dual-booting my MacBook Air between Mojave and Catalina. Slowly but surely I’m spending more time in Catalina, and configuring it the way that I want it. It‘s fine, but I don’t miss much when I‘m booted into Mojave, and if I had to choose one, I‘d still stick with Mojave for now just because O don’t really have any compelling reason to use Catalina, just curiosity.)

1 Like

If You have parallels, create a new virtual machine under mojave from the recovery partition (parallels offers this option under ‘new’, just scroll to the right in the ‘chooser’). After creating that vm, install parallels-tools on that vm (the yellow ‘warning sign’ on top right) and then, upgrade to catalina. You will get a perfect test-bench to check all out…

If You create 2 vm’s from the recovery partition, You can use one of them as a pure mojave machine - just in case after You moved Your real machine to catalina…

For me, this was the reason to buy parallels (I got VMWare for years, but was not able to install catalina under VMWare Fusion…)

The only significant change that I’m aware of is with Photos and since I don’t use Photos much so I’m in no rush. I’m running Mojave on my iMac and Catalina on a 2013 MBP. They both work just fine. I’m doing some mapping and web development on the iMac and am afraid some of the apps will be tripped up by the increased security measures.

Suspect you’re good for at least another year or two. Why bother with dual booting or buying an app to run SnapScan?

The last version of the Mac OS I skipped entirely was Lion. I am seriously thinking about skipping Catalina as well. At the very least, I will keep using Mojave, along with Catalina, for at least another year. There’s really nothing Catalina offers that I can’t live without, and the downside (including bugs and incompatibility with older software) is definitely making me think twice. For starters, I’ve been using Photoshop for almost 30 years and feel extremely resistant to switching to different image editing software after all this time. I could subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud, of course; but the very thought of doing that gives me a stomach ache. To each his own. I’m sticking with Mojave for awhile longer, one way or another.

1 Like

Have decided to hold back on Catalina for a while as I transition slowly to apps that are 64 bit.

One upgrade I have not done yet is Safari 13. Has all the bugs been fixed in that and everyone happy with it now?

The only problem with Safari 13 was the final death of old extensions.

1 Like

I’ve been using Safari 13 for awhile now and it seems fine to me. It did disable a few older extensions, but this isn’t a big issue for me.

One thing worth mentioning, although it may not be related to Safari 13, is that I’ve been having a lot of trouble with streaming video lately—even when my internet connection is fine.

It wasn’t so much bugs that upset some users, it was the new “features” introduced or re-introduced which I doubt will ever be rolled back.

A few developers have re-introduced their extensions, modified to need Apple’s new requirements, but some either abandoned further development or were unable to adapt.

What I did before upgrading to Catalina was buy a new SSD from It came with a USB enclosure to put my old SSD into. Now I am running Catalina but if I need a 32-bit app once in a while, I can boot from my Mojave system. I have my original hard drive with Mojave exactly as it was and a new hard drive with Catalina.

Of course it is a bit of work to get all that done including using a Time Machine backup on the new SSD. But you could buy a portable SSD and install Catalina on it and run from that a while to see if you think it is worth upgrading to.

A couple of things bother me about Catalina compared with Mojave and make me wish I’d waited till they’re fixed. One bother is that Apple has changed column view in Mail so that it’s now impossible to adjust column widths. For those who don’t use column view this isn’t a problem but it’s forced me to use the newer view (like what you get on iPhone or iPad). The second bother is that the audio editor Audacity, which I use a few times each week, won’t record without a clumsy workaround that involves starting the software with a script in Terminal. The workaround is documented on the Audacity website and no doubt Audacity will eventually release an update to its software that will fix it, but for now it’s annoying. I wish I’d known about the column problem before upgrading, because to my knowledge there’s no workaround. If Tidbits readers know of one, please reply!

Oh bummer! I never liked the iOS style view on Mac Mail so I’ve always stuck with the classic column view. Can you supply details? Is the column width stuck at whatever you had set it before or is locked to some other random default value? Equal width for each column? Can you still select which columns to be shown depending on mailbox?

It’s locked into a value that Apple thinks is ok, If you have a 24" screen the columns seem wide enough to work with, but on a laptop they aren’t wide enough imho. The main problem is you can’t adjust the column width, or drag the columns to re-order them. You can show or remove the date and time column, and the message size column, but none of the others–also a problem. I guess if there’s enough complaining Apple will fix it in a Catalina update.

A number of people have lost email in the Mail app when upgrading to Catalina. Here’s an Apple Discussions thread on the topic:
Catalina came preinstalled on my new MBP, so I didn’t have a choice, but I lost lots of emails when Migration Assistant imported them from my High Sierra Time Machine backup. Something to keep in mind when considering whether to upgrade. ―Ken Nellis

I have a test volume on my MacBook Pro, but I still spend most of my time in Mojave. Catalina breaks too many great apps and doesn’t offer much in return.


    January 2

It’s locked into a value that Apple thinks is ok, If you have a 24" screen the columns seem wide enough to work with, but on a laptop they aren’t wide enough imho. The main problem is you can’t adjust the column width, or drag the columns to re-order them. You can show or remove the date and time column, and the message size column, but none of the others–also a problem. I guess if there’s enough complaining Apple will fix it in a Catalina update.

Pardon the obvious, but why did Apple do this? By removing options for column settings in Mail, who does it benefit and how? Honest question, not snark.

I could make an unsatisfactory guess or two myself, but curious if there’s an actual known reason, or at least a well educated guess.

Going back a year or three, I upgraded from OS 9.2.2 to OS 10.2.3 in one step. I suspect I will skip Catalina the same way. But very many thanks to all of you who are using it and discovering the bugs.

I’m thinking about buying a new 16” MBP.
Can it run Mojave? Or am I stuck with all the issues mentioned above?

Sorry, downgrading isn’t possible with a 16-inch MacBook Pro or a new Mac Pro.

Thanks, Adam. That article didn’t show up in my feed until this morning. Interesting timing.