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.
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.
Seeing Constant iCloud Terms & Conditions Agreement Loop in MacOS Catalina
Some users are reporting a constant loop of seeing iCloud Terms & Conditions that won’t be dismissed or agreed despite interacting with it.
Go to System Preferences > Internet Accounts > choose the Apple ID that is used for the App Store and other purchases, and then agree to the Terms & Conditions that appear on this screen.
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”
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.
Bluetooth Input Lagging, Magic Trackpad Slow Response with MacOS Catalina
Some users have reported significant bluetooth input lag since updating to MacOS Catalina, where interacting with a Magic Trackpad or other Bluetooth device has a notable delay of sometimes several seconds before responding.
If you’re experiencing slow response from Bluetooth devices in MacOS Catalina, try disconnecting them from the Mac, removing them, and then reconnecting and resyncing the Bluetooth accessory to the Mac.
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.
Unable to Access TV Purchases & TV Content from TV App in Catalina
Some users have reported they are not able to access any content from the TV app in MacOS Catalina.
Some users are not able to stream their TV purchases and video content from the TV app, and some users are not able to download their purchases from TV app.
Symptoms of this issue are typically a gray ‘download from iCloud’ button showing but that is unresponsive, and no video content downloads or plays in the TV app on MacOS Catalina.
If you’re unable to access your purchases and content in TV app in MacOS Catalina, confirming that the appropriate Apple ID is logged into the Mac and TV app, then quitting the app and restarting the Mac may help.
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 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.
MacOS Catalina Wi-Fi Dropping Connections
Adding a new Network Location often can resolve issues with dropping wi-fi connections.
Make sure you also have reasonable distance to the wi-fi router and there is no significant interference, which is good general advice or wi-fi connection issues.
Additional MacOS Catalina Troubleshooting Ideas
Depending on the issue, you may want to try a few additional troubleshooting steps like:
- Try re-installing MacOS Catalina by rebooting the Mac and holding down Command+R and choosing to “Reinstall MacOS” – this will reinstall the core operating system without changing user files. Be sure to have a full backup fo your Mac before attempting this.
- Try resetting SMC: Learn how to reset the SMC on older Macs or how to reset SMC on MacBook Pro & MacBook Air 2018 and newer models
- Reset the PRAM on the Mac
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!