How to get your Mac ready for MacOS 10.15 Catalina

Apple just dropped Catalina, so it's a good time to get your Mac ready for the upgrade -- so as to allow it to go smoothly and to avoid potential data loss.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Now that iOS 13 and iPadOS has dropped for iPhones and iPads, the next major software upgrade for Macs is rolling out, too. It's called MacOS 10.15 Catalina. So, this is a good time to prepare your Mac for the update -- to avoid nasty hiccups like data loss, and to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Must read: iOS 13: Security and privacy settings you need to tweak and check

Here's my MacOS 10.15 Catalina upgrade action plan.

Can your Mac run Catalina?

The simple answer here is that if your Mac can run MacOS 10.14 Mojave, it can run Catalina, otherwise you're out of luck.

Here's a complete list of Macs that can run MacOS 10.15 Catalina:

  • MacBook 2015 and later
  • MacBook Air 2012 or later
  • MacBook Pro 2012 or later
  • Mac Mini 2012 or later
  • iMac 2012 or later
  • iMac Pro 2017 or later
  • Mac Pro 2013 or later

What to know what Mac you have and what your version of MacOS it is running? Click on the Apple menu and select About This Mac. The Overview tab will show you the Mac you have and what version of MacOS it is running.

What to know what Mac you have and what your version of macOS it is running?

What to know what Mac you have and what your version of macOS it is running?

Make a backup

Before you start installing operating system upgrades, updating apps en-masse, or freeing up space for the upgrade it's a good idea to make a backup to protect you against something going wrong (or protection against you doing something that isn't so clever).

I like for a backup to be the first thing I do because it gives me peace of mind. If you have a Time Machine backup routine in place (or one that uses a tool such as Carbon Copy Cloner or a service such as Backblaze) then it's worth checking to see that this is working and making backups. It might not be a bad idea to have more than one backup, you know, just in case!

Whatever you do, don't assume that you have a backup!

Do you have enough free storage

The MacOS 10.15 Catalina download is about 7GB and will require about 20GB of free space to install.

Don't have enough free space? You can either go about manually moving and deleting files or let a tool like CleanMyMac X do the heavy lifting for you.

Check for 32-bit apps

Catalina is the end of the line for 32-bit apps, so if you rely on any then you either need to upgrade (which may mean a paid upgrade), wait for the developer to get their act together and release a compatible version, or find an alternative.

Want to know if you are using any 32-bit apps? Here's how to find out.

Upgrade apps

It's a good idea to make sure things are upgraded to reduce the scope of things going bad. It's not essential, but every little bit helps.

Know your Apple ID username and password

You will need this to log in to your iCloud account.

You can always enter it at a later point, but either way it's a good idea to know where this information is.

What to do on upgrade day

Here's what I will do on upgrade day:

  • Make sure my battery is charged (for portable Macs)
  • Have a good, reliable internet connection
  • Put aside a few hours for the download, installation, and initial set up of Catalina

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