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MacOS Catalina – Light-Hearted, Humble Review

Welcome to my light-hearted review of Catalina. My Mac is 7 years old and my last review of a Mac OS was back in 2014.  The Mac in question has lasted longer than any Windows Computer that I have ever owned. As the last DIY upgradeable Mac, I added an SSD and 16GB RAM. If only they let you do that now!  Over the last few years, old Macs have been incompatible with the latest operating system.  Being 7 years old I thought it was time.  Apple ceases to amaze me (please humour me) by making my MacBook Pro compatible with Catalina.  I had my doubts that it would run. I navigated my way to the App Store with my inner voice telling me no, don’t do it!

MacOS Catalina Desktop

I ignored my thoughts and started downloading and waited with bated breath. It took an hour to install. To be honest, enough time to run around the house with the vacuum cleaner (Yeah I’m good at that too ;0)

Finally, a recognisable screen. I cycle through the options. Sign in to iCloud, enable screentime. Suddenly it stopped dead. I waited and waited. There was no back button, no cancel, the spinner went round and round, boy it made me dizzy. After about 10 minutes of being very patient, I decided to hard shutdown. Pressing and holding the power button beats hitting it with a hammer after all.

Fingers and toes were crossed that it booted up and then once I saw the login screen I let out a huge sigh of relief.  I signed in and whoa. How many notifications can one deal with at once? This piece of software wants rights to give you notifications. Grant this, grant that. Update to a new version of this. I thought the Mac was going to explode.  After several hangs, I finally have the new of MacOS Catalina.  My initial thoughts?

Aesthetics and Apps

It doesn’t look much different from Mojave, to be honest. Some of the app icons have a little polish added to them. iTunes is now Music. I like the fact that the podcast and TV apps are now separate from iTunes.  The interface looks less clunky. It still allows me to play my archaic 80’s playlists though.

We have finally said goodbye to the 32 bit Apps, not that I had any. I have only one big bugbear.  The stocks app! Enough said. I don’t want or use it, please allow me to delete it!

I hardly noticed that the dashboard (RIP) in Mission Control has disappeared for good. If often reminded me of the dreaded desktop widgets in Windows Vista. The reminders app is more useable. The only downside is that it isn’t compatible with my iPad Air so I can only make use of the app on my iPhone and Mac.

The sidecar feature only works on newer Macs and iPads so I can’t comment on its features. I have the use of an external monitor, using a cable, and that works if you need any form of clarification.

I had heard about the photos app not syncing with the Mac.  By the time I opened photos I had already updated Catalina. So far, other than my photos being extremely large and thus scaring me half to death I have had no issues.

As boring as it gets I like the change in system preferences. They have moved Apple ID and family sharing into the top right corner. they say little things please little minds!

Important Tools For Me

I’m a big fan of Visual Studio Code, well who isn’t? It’s become the 1st choice for many. I generally code web sites, WordPress Themes and various JavaScript Projects. I had several issues with Jekyll and Ruby.  For some reason, I had several versions of Ruby installed including RVM and HomeBrew.  I removed them all and I re-installed the HB version and added the correct shell executable paths. Technically not a Catalina fault, just me being greedy with my Ruby installations.

Mac Mail is an important desktop App for managing many emails. I also use the powerful Mailbutler Plugin to further beef up my options. I had to enter all my passwords again which is quite tedious when you have 12 email addresses track.  Occasionally, I get nagged to take all accounts online.  Mailbutler plugin worked fine after updating to the Catalina specific version.

Would I Recommend Catalina?

Even on my ageing MacBook Pro, it works. The processor sounded like it belonged on a jet at first but after the update, it is much calmer. I am a big fan of upgrading but generally, weigh up the pros and cons by reading reviews. I would recommend updating a week or so after the initial release or the first big update thereafter.

Conclusion

I might not get the opportunity to upgrade OS again next year.  It’s been hanging on for many years and I’m thankful it has lasted. I won’t be rushing to buy the latest MacBook Pro as it has issues with butterflies. Who knows what next year will bring!

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