Troubleshooting MacOS Catalina Problems

Oct 9, 2019 - 43 Comments

Troubleshooting MacOS Catalina problems

Some Mac users have reported a variety of problems with MacOS Catalina, ranging from installations getting stuck or taking abnormally long, to problems with some apps not working, to issues with certain printers or accessories no longer working, App Store difficulties, iCloud and Apple ID issues, amongst other nuisances.

While installing and using MacOS Catalina goes fine for most users, that is no solace if you are experiencing problems with a particular Mac and the new MacOS 10.15 release. Below we will discuss a variety of reported issues and problems with MacOS Catalina, and offer various troubleshooting methods to attempt to resolve those difficulties.

Before perusing this guide or attempting any troubleshooting method, be sure to back up your Mac and all data first. Failure to backup data can result in permanent data loss.

MacOS Catalina Won’t Download or Shows “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg”

If you are attempting to download MacOS Catalina and it fails with a “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg” error message, it may be related to third party firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware software running on the Mac.

Temporarily disable the third party software that is a firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware protection, and then relaunch System Preferences to check for the download again and MacOS Catalina should arrive as expected.

Note that some Macs may need to be restarted after third party protection software is disabled, depending on the software and how it works. In that case, after rebooting the Mac return to System Preferences in the Software Update section to download MacOS Catalina as expected.

MacOS Catalina won’t install because “There is not enough free space on Macintosh HD to install”

If you do not have sufficient free disk space available on the Mac hard drive, you will not be able to install MacOS Catalina.

Aim to have at least 15GB freely available to complete the installation of MacOS Catalina.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stalls on “Estimating time remaining…”

A fair number of people have reported that MacOS Catalina installation takes longer to install than they were expecting, or longer to install than prior MacOS installations. A common symptom of this is the Mac is apparently stuck on “Estimating time remaining…” when trying to install MacOS Catalina.

If you see the “Estimating time remaining…” screen when trying to install MacOS Catalina, be patient. It’s unlikely the installer is actually stuck, so just let it sit, and if it’s a MacBook Pro or Air make sure it is connected to a power source.

Let the Mac sit for however long it takes to complete the installation of Catalina, it may take several hours. The Mac will automatically boot into MacOS Catalina when finished installing.

There are mixed reports that the MacOS Catalina installation has taken anywhere from 45 minutes to over 12 hours to complete, how long it takes on a particular machine likely depends on many factors, including computer speed, internet connection speed, the Mac OS version being updated from, and more, thus it’s best to initiate the installation when there is plenty of time available to allow the Mac to complete installation.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck on “Less than one minute remaining”

Some users report that installing MacOS Catalina gets stuck on a black screen with an  Apple logo and progress bar, stating there is less than a minute remaining to complete the installation.

If you see this screen, let the Mac sit and wait for a substantial amount of time before attempting to intervene.

If the Mac is still stuck on “Less than one minute remaining” after many hours (let it sit overnight if you can), and you have a full backup of your data, try powering down the Mac and then turning it back on again. It may boot directly into the MacOS Catalina setup screen. It also may fail to boot entirely, in which case you’ll need to reinstall MacOS system software with Internet Recovery (you can also try to reinstall MacOS Mojave through regular recovery too), or restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup.

MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck or Fails with “The operation couldn’t be completed. (PKDownloadError error 8.)”

This error has been reported to occur during installation of MacOS Catalina if the internet connection is disrupted or disconnected.

Insure that the Mac has an active wi-fi or ethernet connection and that the internet works as expected, and then try installing MacOS Catalina again.

MacOS Catalina Stuck on “Setting Up Your Mac” Screen After Install

Let it sit for at least several hours, it may resolve itself.

If a after hours pass, force reboot the Mac by turning the computer off, then turning it back on again

Mac Running MacOS Catalina Randomly Crashes & Restarts

Some Mac users are reporting their Mac is crashing and restarting itself, particular when the Mac is left unattended for a period of time.

This random crash/freezing/restarting issue appears to happen more often on newer Macs with T2 security chips, or with Macs with a Radeon Pro Vega GPU, but it has been reported on other Mac models as well.

There are various discussion threads on Apple Support Forums here about this, but there is not yet any clear explanation or solution to this problem.

Reinstalling MacOS Catalina may help.

If any updates come available to MacOS Catalina, be sure to install those right way (ie: MacOS Catalina 10.15.1, 10.15.2, etc), as they may resolve the problem.

Downgrading to MacOS Mojave may also be a workaround to some users, though that is obviously not desirable or practical for many users.

Frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” Requests

Some users have reported a frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” pop-up message, informing them that some services will not be available until they sign-in again. Then after signing in again, the popup returns.

Update Apple ID settings in Mac OS Catalina message

If you encounter frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” alerts, first try restarting the Mac.

If the “Update Apple ID Settings” alert message continues still, back up the Mac (if you haven’t done so already), then go to System Preferences and logging out of the Apple ID, rebooting the Mac, then logging back in again.

Be aware that signing out of an Apple ID may cause issues with synced data over iCloud, including iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, iCloud Photos, and other iCloud syncing.

Persistent iCloud Password Requests

Some users have reported issues with persistent Apple ID and iCloud password requests.

Open System Preferences > go to iCloud settings > and login to iCloud directly.

You may also need to log out and then log back into iCloud via System Preferences, but be aware that doing so can cause issues with iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, and other iCloud syncing.

Some Mac Apps Don’t Work, “App Needs to be Updated” Error Message

Any 32-bit app that has not been updated to 64-bit will not work in MacOS Catalina.

When attempting to launch an app that does not work in MacOS Catalina, you will see an error message stating “(Name) needs to be updated”

App Needs to be Updated MacOS Catalina error message

This includes many older versions of popular apps like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc), Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and many smaller third party tools and utilities.

Additionally, many popular older Mac games are 32-bit and thus will not work on MacOS Catalina (unless they are updated for 64-bit support, which some developers have already stated will not happen with older software).

The only solution to this is to update the apps to 64-bit versions, or to find alternative applications. Or, more extreme, would be to downgrade from MacOS Catalina, but that’s a sizable hassle.

Printers, Scanners, Accessories Incompatible or Don’t Work with MacOS Catalina

Some users have found that printers, scanners, and other hardware accessories are no longer working after updating to MacOS Catalina.

This may be related to the loss of 32-bit application support, as some older printers and drivers are not updated to 64-bit.

Numerous reports exist of various Brother, Epson, HP, and other printers and accessories are incompatible with MacOS Catalina currently.

A good first step would be to reach out to the manufacturer of the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory and see if new drivers or related software are available with MacOS Catalina compatibility.

If new Catalina compatible drivers are available, install them to regain access to the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory.

Mail Missing, Mail Data Loss After MacOS Catalina Update

Some users have reported mail is missing, or that parts of mail messages are incomplete, or some other form of Mail app data loss has occurred after updating to MacOS Catalina.

If you have a Time Machine backup from before updating to MacOS Catalina, you should be a able to restore the Mail folder from that backup. You can also access the backup mail data folder directly on the Time Machine backup, then from Mail app in MacOS Catalina, go to File > Import Mailboxes and import that back-up Mailfolder.

Wi-Fi Not Working in MacOS Catalina

Some users have reported wi-fi problems with MacOS Catalina. Often a solution for wi-fi not working is to go to System Preferences > Network > and create a new Network Location and to re-join a known working wi-fi network.

Unable to Connect to Network Drives / SMB Shares in Catalina

Some users have reported they are no longer able to connect to network shares with SMB file sharing. This may be an issue with NetBIOS, or it may be due to some other problem, depending on what exactly the network problem is.

You may be able to resolve network sharing issues for Guest users by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Guest User > and choosing “Allow guest users to connect to shared folders”

Loss of iTunes Causing Issues with Music Playlists

Some users have reported that music playlists created from iTunes are not being imported or included in the new Music app of MacOS Catalina.

This may be a bug, or it could be an issue with the Music app not finding the playlist files from iTunes.

Some users have reported that simply quitting Music app and restarting the Mac has allowed their old iTunes playlists to surface in Music app as expected.

iTunes Removal Causing Issues with XML File Support & Third Party Music Apps

Some users of various music apps have reported that MacOS Catalina does not work with various music production and DJ apps.

This is apparently due to an issue with XML file support being removed from the new Music app.

If you rely on an application which requires iTunes or iTunes XML file support, consider avoiding MacOS Catalina for the time being, or until the apps you rely on are updated to support MacOS Catalina.

You can read more about this specific issue at The Verge if interested.

Mac App Store Showing “No Purchases”

Some Mac users are discovering that MacOS Catalina is not showing their purchased app history.

Sometimes simply rebooting the Mac can resolve this problem.

Otherwise, try logging out of the Mac App Store, quitting the App Store application, relaunching the App Store, then logging back into the Mac App Store again, to regain access to purchases.

Mac App Store no purchases error message

Mac App Store Showing “No Updates”

Some users have reported that the Mac App Store is erroneously showing a “No Updates” available message, despite having older versions of apps like iMovie installed that are not working without an update for full 64-bit compatibility.

Quitting the Mac App Store, then rebooting the Mac and relaunching the Mac App Store appears to resolve this problem.

Mac is Hot and Running Slow After Installing MacOS Catalina

This is likely due to the system reindexing files on the drive, and the system toll it takes to perform maintenance tasks that are necessary after reinstalling or updating MacOS system software.

Let this process complete, it may take a while, but the Mac should perform as expected when that background activity has finished.

Safari Can’t Connect to Websites, But Internet Works

Some third party firewall software and anti-virus apps may be causing issues with Safari and other apps accessing websites and the internet in general.

Try disabling those third party firewall and virus tools, then rebooting the Mac to see if the issue is resolved.

Additional MacOS Catalina Troubleshooting Ideas

Depending on the issue, you may want to try a few additional troubleshooting steps like:

MacOS Catalina is Unusable for Me, Help!

If you find MacOS Catalina totally unusable for whatever reason, you have a few options:

  • Restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup, which is perhaps the easiest and best method of reverting from MacOS Catalina
  • Reinstalling MacOS via Internet Recovery, which will attempt to reinstall the version of MacOS that came with the Mac
  • Erase the Mac and restore from Time Machine or a prior backup method to effectively downgrade from MacOS Catalina to the prior version of MacOS you had backed up
  • Contact official Apple Support for further assistance – Apple support techs and engineers may be able to resolve a problem for you that unaffiliated third party fan sites like this are not able to address

Are all of these problems common?

No, these are not commonly encountered issues with MacOS Catalina.

Perhaps the most common issue that may be experienced by users with MacOS Catalina is that some older apps will not work, because of the loss of 32-bit app support. The other issues discussed here are fairly rare.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to install MacOS Catalina then don’t assume you will experience any of the issues or problems discussed here. This is intended as a troubleshooting guide for problems that a small number of users are encountering, and by no means is representative of the wider MacOS Catalina user base or experience. You can use this guide to get ready and prepare for MacOS Catalina and download MacOS Catalina as soon as you’re ready for the software update. Or you can skip it for the time being, that’s OK too!

Did you experience any problems with MacOS Catalina? Were the above troubleshooting tips helpful for you? Let us know your thoughts, experiences, solutions, and difficulties with MacOS Catalina in the comments below!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. tom mcgarrity says:

    since microsoft office isn’t working, now, it tells me to go to app store to get 365. BUT, not accepting my Apple ID password. when i try to change password, it tells me to use my unlocking mac password … which it doesn’t accept.

    its a circular problem. help!!

  2. Dom Williams says:

    Apple TV App in my 2015 MBP now reports that my screen isn’t HDCP compliant can’t see the video to any purchased movies or tv although I still have sound. I feel a roll back coming on. 😡

  3. Whit says:

    Preview does not allow searching anymore. it will populate on the sidebar with the pages the phrases I am searching are found on, however, it wont actually show them on the page or allow me to find the “next” instance of it.

    Also continually getting warnings to accept user terms and agreement, and I have…. about 50 times. still shows up as needing to do it. Literally every time the screen wakes up.

  4. Andrew Griffiths says:

    Tried the normal update – got an error message that the update could not be completed because there was an error removing the old (Mojave) operating system. Tried it several times with no success. Created a bootable disk on a flash drive and tried to install from that but got the same message. Decided the only solution was too format the main drive (startup disk) – deep breath – knowing I had a Time Machine backup.

    That worked – Catalina then installed OK and I restored from the Time Machine back–up. As far as I can see everything is working (minor issue with Mail telling me there was not enough room in my home folder when I had over 100Gb free!). That seems to have resolved now.

    Major issue for me is that I cannot run Final Cur Pro X. The program quits every time I try to load it. I’m hing the 10.15.1 update will sort that!

  5. Jane Smith says:

    Since I updated to Mac OS Catalina, I have had some issues.
    When I type on the keyboard it repeats 3 or 4 characters (which is a drag when put passwords because it always goes wrong. Example: When I try to write Catalina appears “catlinaina” or “catactalina” or when I try to type Quando appears “Quanuado” or when I try to type more appears “More ore” or when I type the word try appears “try tr”.
    I called apple support and they tried to fix it through the “smc” and “pram”. Not only was it not solved, but it added one more problem: The Delete key no longer quickly erases a few words when I press and hold but it does character by character (about one per second) and so do the arrows keys.

    The battery is also going really fast but I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it.

    Some help please?

  6. Lee says:

    I installed it on a test machine, saw it was rubbish and wiped it

  7. João costa says:

    My Catalina Installation stuck at ”IOHDIXcontroller: note: administrator is creating non-ejectable disk”
    I know many users have waited hours for installation to complete… mine is there for 4/5 hours.
    Any ideas please.

  8. Mr. H. says:

    All went well until I tried to remove some of the desktop pictures. Minor point, I know but…
    I get a message that says the macOS needs these.
    Any ideas?

  9. Renie says:

    Since the upgrade the screen resolution is off and I can only see half my screen so I can answer the questions on the other half… anybody got any insights?

  10. William says:

    Catalina inhibits and causes backups to an external hard drive to take an extreme amount of time and fail. With High Sierra and Mohave, it took approximately 10 minutes to backup my iMac [including encryption]. With Catalina, time machine indicated 10 hours [later reduced to 6 hours] but, the system kept stalling at 4 hours and would not complete the backup.

    I gave up and just did a backup of critical files to a memory stick. I have older backups and am considering undertaking the task of converting my system back to Mohave as this system is slow, cumbersome and not worth the trouble.

  11. Mgm says:

    Well,,,, So far, it froze during installation, 2 days to get it unstuck,,,, next day, my entire username passwords files erased themselves,,,,,today, the desktop completely wiped itself off of any icons or data, except for my background photo,,, lovely upgrade Catalina is,,,,,not!

  12. Art Jacks says:

    I upgraded and the installation went OK on a late 2016 MBP, my issue is with Adobe Bridge which will not show the contents of my Desktop, Download or Document folders, in the file structure on the left of Bridge these folders have a downward pointing arrow on them and if the folder is clicked in the normal way a message is shown saying no items to display but they are there when using Finder. I contacted Adobe support and they said they are aware of the issues with Catalina and they are working on a fix.

  13. Lucia says:

    Since using Catalina, I cannot use Draftkings Sportsbook on my MacBook. I informed Draftkings but they did not know how to resolve, just to make sure my intranet cable (what??, never mind, thanks)
    Anyone else encounter this or at least have a reason why it does not “locate me” properly? Maps and other apps know where I am so not sure the issue.

  14. Clinton says:

    We currently have a 66% roll back rate on this botched up install.

    Not only have we seen all of the above issues but drive I/O access issues after. Many SSD drives don’t report well with encryption. So lots of boot faults and hangs under APFS.

  15. Mike O’Connor says:

    My 2015 MacBook Air has been rendered useless after attempting to install Catalina. I was on my iPhone with Customer Support for almost 3 hours and the situation only became worse. Now, I have no working MacBook Air and Apple will not rectify it after their damned OS decimated my hard drive. Do not, under any circumstances, install Catalina.

  16. jaybee says:

    Since upgrading to catalina, I’m not getting icon previews for music files – in particular .aiff and .m4a apple losseless. These files display on desktop and in finder with blank icons. (some mp3 icons do appear though.)

    is this a bug or am I missing something?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

  17. Louis J Castaing Jr says:


  18. Richard says:

    Since installing Catalina, apple music does not work properly. If I play a recommended album, the playback stops after each track and therefore I have to manually select play for each track.

    Also sometimes apple’s playlists play ok, others, times only a few of the tracks are played before playback stops.

    I didn’t have any of those problems with the previous version of the operating system using the iTunes app.

  19. threbus says:

    Two-user MBP; secondary administrator. Catalina kept asking for my Apple ID repeatedly—entered it, asked for my log in pw, entered it and it recycled; waited a day; logged out, restarted, had it asked for again, entered it and log in pw, but this time I waited a little longer; after 5-10 seconds, I got a request for a passcode for one of my other devices. After that, the prompts and the warning triangle went away. Done!

  20. Simon says:

    Please How do you now reset the network settings ie delete network prefs in Catalina, as I can’t locate system configuration folder. It is not viewable or searchable so I can’t access network prefs to delete or move out of the folder.


    • Daniel Wells says:

      You can’t maunually edit system folders at all…The system files are on a disk that is read-only now. You can get to System Preferences for the APPLE menu though.

  21. Great Article. After installing Catolina on IMac I have three yellow triangles

    Confirm mac password
    Update Apple ID settings
    Update Apple ID settings (yes 2 the same)

    After trying to add password message reads can’t connect to server or my password is wrong when I know it’s correct.

    Any ideas on a remedy

    How many others have similier issues?

    Cheers Simon

    • Opinionated says:

      You should call (800) MY–APPLE (800–692–7753) which is Apple’s official tech support phone line and make them walk you through the resolution to your problem.

      Everyone else is just guessing, or trying things on their own, hoping this or that will work, and maybe it does. But this is Apple’s mess and we are just working through it as fellow users.

      Apple created the mess with Catalina, broke a lot of stuff, so call them and let’s hear their explanation on how to fix it. I would like to know what they say, though their call center employees probably don’t know yet either.

      I have seen other people say the Apple ID password is being rejected despite being accurate, that is a common issue and obviously a problem with Mac Catalina.

      • Daniel Wells says:

        APPLE won’t give you free tech support via the telephone UNLESS you still have time left in your tech support window…the first 90 days.

  22. James says:

    Upgraded to Catalina now the Extensions off the Edit mode of Photos does not allow the changes to be saved. Get error message that states: Unable to Save Changes for “Luminar 3”. Ab error occurred while saving. Please try again later.

    • René says:

      Same problem here, I hope either Apple or Luminar can fix this, as it makes the otherwise brilliant Luminar plugin useless.

  23. Darren McCoy says:

    Everything went smoothly for me. Does anyone else have a minor problem in finder? When I open my download folder the last download is always above the interface. I always have to scroll up to see the last download.

  24. Bobby Papoutsis says:

    My MacBook Pro, which is compatible with macOS Catalina, won’t even upgrade to 10.5 because the download always seems to fail once I’ve gotten past a certain threshold. In my case, it’s after I pass 5 gigabytes out of the 8 gigabytes you need to download. From there, then estimated time remaining jumps to 12 hours to 3 days. Then it just fails and I have to start from scratch. This has been a persistent issue for the past two days. Is it because of congested network traffic on the part of Apple since so many people are downloading this? Is it my internet connection? I don’t think it is because I can stream HD without buffering issues. I have it downloading again and hope that it won’t fail with another error.

  25. Catherine says:

    Since I updated my Mac with Os Catalina, the screen is stuck with Screen Time. I can’t access any application, nothing!
    Anyone could help?

  26. Is there a list of applications, like 32 bit ones, people have encountered ?
    a list of those not upgradable?

    This would be hugely helpful if a user requires an application that is unavailable!

  27. Richard says:

    Noticed my disk space percentage was radically reduced… decimated, actually. Went from 81% to 8%. There are 32GB of space eaten up by “Other” with no idea what that “Other” is. Any ideas?

  28. Daniel says:

    Sit for days if it takes that long. Are you right out of your mind? Wait for days for an install? Not very likely.

  29. Daniel says:

    Lost the entire Time Machine backup history (about 3 years of backups) after upgrading to Catalina. Only the backups made with Catalina are shown when opening Time Machine.

    • Mike says:

      I have the sam issue on 3 different machines 2 iMac’s and a Macbook Air. Spent almost 2 hours with Mac support, tried to tell me I needed to format my time capsule to APFS, which can’t be done

  30. SalParadise says:

    Music and TV apps will update album and DVD covers over time. Just leave the apps open. I hope they’re not being grabbed off the net. All my albums, TV shows and movies had art already attached to file in iTunes.

    Also the remote app on your iPhone or iPad doesn’t work with Music. Which sucks. Hopefully Apple will update or fix the app.

  31. Robert Mansfield says:

    I have upgraded to Catalina but iPhoto has disapeared along with all my photos. Photos is ticked ini cloud but nothing has come back?

  32. Bernt Ringström says:

    Can’t use playlists in Music.
    My personal equalizer preset function drops after each song but still indicates ‘on’ and must be reactivated.
    Most annoying.
    I must control myself and not update first day…

  33. chbrunne says:

    No, you’re not missing anything. The view you are looking for, doesn’t exist anymore :-(
    And the album artwork problem is a general one:

    Catalina isn’t a great update for music, because Music is a dork… ;-)

  34. Todd says:

    Since upgrading to Catlina, Word crashes immediately upon opening. I know this is not isolated to me, others are reporting it too. I spent 2 hours on a chat “hold” with Microsoft with no resolution. That was after 2 help sessions with Apple, thinking it was a Catalina issue.

    • Scott says:

      I’m able to use Word, but I can’t save a document in Word format. When I try to save a document, the document title bar changes from Document1 to the file name I’ve chosen, but after a few seconds, it changes back to Document1. I was able to “print” it as a PDF file, so I have a copy of it, but if I want to open the document again, I’m hosed.

  35. Fulvio says:

    I just updated to OSX Catalina and I lost (or not yet found) the way to show the Album Artwork (on the left side) when I select “Songs”. This is very annoying as the list with the Album cover was more “view” friendly than the actual “text” list. Have I missing something? Anyone else?

    Thanks for shed some light.
    Regards, Fulvio, Switzerland

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