How to install macOS Catalina

Also this year, as usual, Apple has released a new version of macOS, its operating system for computers. The latest update is called macOS Catalina 10.15 and represents a further evolution, as well as maturation, of the previous versions, bringing numerous and interesting new features and better thanks to which using a Mac becomes even simpler, as well as exploiting its potential.

The graphical interface has remained the same as macOS Mojave, but the automatic Dark Mode has been added, iTunes has disappeared and has been dismembered in three different apps (Music, Podcast and TV), the synchronization procedure with iOS devices has been integrated in the Finder and support for running 32-bit apps has been removed. Among other noteworthy innovations, there is the possibility of using an iPad as a second screen, that of using Apple Watch to authorize authentication attempts and the “Time of use” feature, already usable on mobile, has been added for find out exactly how the computer is used.

How do you say? Would you like more details and, above all, would you like to get help to install MacOS Catalina on your Apple computer? There is no problem, in this my specific guide dedicated to the topic you will find everything you need to know about the new operating system of the “bitten apple”. So make yourself comfortable and find out with me what are the minimum requirements to be able to run the OS and the instructions to proceed with the download and installation (by updating from Mojave, creating a clean installation or reinstalling everything after a first installation). In conclusion, I will also explain, in more detail, the main novelties of the report. Now, however, it is enough to chat and move on to action. I wish you, as usual, a good read and I wish you all the best in everything!

Before getting to the heart of the tutorial, going to discover, in detail, how to install MacOS Catalina, it is practically obligatory to make an overview of what are the minimum requirements necessary to be able to run the new version of the operating system signed Apple.

Macs compatible with Catalina macOS are practically the same as those with Mojave, which are those listed in the following list.

MacBook 2015 and later
MacBook Air 2012 and later
MacBook Pro 2012 and later
Mac mini 2012 and later
iMac 2012 and later
iMac Pro 2017 and later
Mac Pro 2013 and later
If you don’t know which Mac model you have, you can easily discover it by clicking on the “bitten apple” symbol that you find in the upper left part of the screen and selecting the Information on this Mac item from the menu that appears. A window will then open with all information relating to the computer in use, model and year of production included.

As for the disk space needed to proceed with the installation, it takes about 8 GB to download the Catalina installer and about 16 GB free for installing the OS. It is also essential to have a fast Internet connection to download the operating system.

Preliminary operations

After making sure of the compatibility of your Mac with Catalina, before proceeding with the download of the operating system, I suggest you make a backup of all the data on your computer, so that you can access it again in the unfortunate event that you have to go to some problems.

In fact, upgrading to Catalina does not involve deleting the data on the computer, so documents, applications and preferences remain in place, but when you are installing a new version of an operating system it is always good , for the reasons mentioned above, to preserve access to your files.

To back up your data, you can use Time Machine, the backup system built into Macs, or you can use third-party applications for this purpose. For all the details of the case, you can consult my tutorial on how to make a backup of the Mac.

Alternatively, you can “transfer” the files you are interested in to an external hard drive, as I indicated in my article on the subject. If you do not yet have a hard drive to connect externally to your computer, you can consult my purchase guide for useful tips.

At this point we’re really there: you’re finally ready to download macOS Catalina on your Mac! To do this, click on the System Preferences icon (the one with the gear wheel) that you find on the Dock bar, select the Software Update icon in the window that opens and wait a few moments for the system to detect the availability of the new OS. Next, click on the Update Now button.

Alternatively, access this Web page and click on the View button in the Mac App Store to open the Mac App Store, the MacOS virtual store that hosts thousands of apps and games, as well as all versions of Apple’s operating system. Once the Mac App Store window appears on your desktop, click on the Get button.

Later, regardless of the steps taken previously, click on the Download button, in response to the warning that you see on the screen by which you are asked if you intend to proceed with the download of macOS Catalina, and wait patiently until the procedure is taken to term.

Considering the fact that the installer weighs over 6 GB, please note that it may take some time to complete the download. Anyway, you can follow the progress of the procedure through the bar visible in the System Preferences window, in the already mentioned Software Update section.

Once the Catalina MacOS download is complete, the installation process of the new operating system should start automatically. Otherwise, you can start it “manually” by selecting the Catalina installer icon from the Launchpad or from the MacOS Applications folder.

When you see the setup window appear on your desktop, click first on the Continue button, then on the Accept button twice in succession (to accept the OS usage conditions) and select the disk you want to install Catalina on (presumably Macintosh HD).

Next, click the Install button, enter the Mac administration password, click the Add assistant button and wait for the first OS installation files to be copied (it should take about 10-15 minutes).

Once the above procedure has been completed, press the Restart button to restart the Mac. At this point, wait for the copy of all operating system files to complete (it should take 20-30 minutes). During this phase, the Apple logo will appear on the Mac screen, along with a progress bar, and the computer will restart several times.

At the end, you will be shown the macOS Catalina logon screen. At this point, log in to your user account, choose whether to share macOS usage data with Apple and those of third-party applications with their respective developers, click on the Continue button and configure the various features offered, such as Time use, Ask Siri etc.

Next, wait for Catalina’s desk to be visible, so you can finally start using the OS and all the features it offers. Done!

Perform a clean installation of macOS Catalina

If you want to perform a clean installation of MacOS Catalina, then going to delete all the files currently present on the Mac drive, you can do it by creating a USB stick with the operating system installation files and booting from it. Proceeding in this way, you will have the possibility to format the Mac disk and install MacOS Catalina from scratch.

To perform the operation in question, the first thing you need to do is to get a USB stick with at least 12 GB of free space. Please note that the contents of the pendrive will be deleted, which is why, before proceeding, make sure you have made a backup copy of the data on it. If you don’t have a pendrive yet to use for the purpose in question and would like to receive some advice about which device to buy, I suggest you consult my purchase guide dedicated to this type of product.

After getting the pendrive, proceed to download the MacOS Catalina installation package, proceeding as I explained to you in the step in this guide focused on what to do. In that case, however, then worry about closing the window for the operating system setup that will be shown to you at the end of the download.

You then need to get Install Disk Creator, the software through which you can copy the MacOS Catalina installation files to the pendrive. It is free and easy to use. To download it to your Mac, go to its website and click on the Download the macOS app button located below.

Once downloaded, extract the ZIP archive obtained (if the Mac does not do it automatically) and drag the program icon inside it into the MacOS Applications folder. Afterwards, right-click on it, select the Open item in the contextual menu that appears and click on the Open button, so that you can start the program but go around the limitations that Apple imposes on non-certified developers (an operation that must be carried out only at the first start).

Once the program window appears on the desktop, if the MacOS MacOS installer does not automatically appear in the middle of it, select it by clicking on the Choose a macOS Installer button and taking it from the MacOS Applications folder.

Next, connect your pendrive to one of the Mac’s USB ports, select it from the Select the volume to become Installer drop-down menu located at the top of the Install Disk Creator window and click on the Create Installer button first and then on that Erase disk.

Enter the Mac administration password now, press the Enter key on the keyboard and wait for the MacOS Catalina installation files to be copied to the USB stick. You can follow the progress of the thing through the special progress bar at the bottom. When completed, the message Complete will appear. At that point, close the program window as well.

Now, all you have to do is restart your Mac leaving the pendrive connected, holding down the alt / option key on the keyboard, then waiting for the boot device selection screen to be shown. At that point, select the Install macOS Catalina icon, press the button with the arrow below and wait for the initial screen to appear with all the tools for installing the operating system.

Then, if necessary, select the Italian from the language selection menu and click on the arrow at the bottom center to proceed with the procedure.

Now, the first thing you need to worry about doing is to format the Mac drive. To do this, select the Disk Utility icon, click the Continue button and select the drive name (eg Macintosh HD) from the toolbar left side. If necessary, click on the Activate button to activate it (by entering the Mac administration password) and press the Initialize button at the top.

In the window that opens, enter the name you want to assign to the disk (eg Macintosh HD) in the Name field, select the APFS item from the Format drop-down menu (so as to format the unit using the most recent Apple file system) and click on the Initialize button.

Once the formatting procedure is complete, click on the Finish button, close the Disk Utility, select the item Install MacOS from the previous screen and click on the Continue button at the bottom right.

In the window that you see on the screen, press the Continue and Accept buttons (twice in a row), select the disk on which to install MacOS Catalina (presumably the one called Macintosh HD) and, if this was encrypted with FileValut, click on Unblock button and enter the Mac administration password to confirm unblocking. Then click on the Install button to proceed with the installation.

At this point, there is nothing left for you to do but wait for the Mac to reboot and the Catalina installation to start and complete (while copying the operating system files, the computer will restart several times).

Once the installation procedure is complete, you will need to configure MacOS, choosing the language and setting the Internet connection, then you will have to click on the Continue button on the screen for data collection and privacy and you will have to choose if you intend to import your data from previous backups (which I advise you against, since you performed a clean installation of the operating system).

Then, log in with your Apple ID, accept the conditions of use of the operating system by clicking twice on the Accept button, set your user account on the computer by typing in your name and password, decide which Apple services to enable (Siri, Time of use etc.) and choose which theme to activate (the light one, the dark one or the automatic one).

In conclusion, you’ll find yourself in front of the desk of macOS Catalina and then you can start using your Mac with the new operating system installed. Et voila!

Main news of macOS Catalina

Now that you have completed the MacOS Catalina installation procedure on your Mac, it seems to me right to offer you an overview of the main new features that the operating system brings with it. Let’s find out what they are.

Automatic Dark Mode

The first novelty of Catalina that catches the eye is the availability of a function that allows you to automatically change, depending on the time of day, the theme used for macOS, alternating between the light and the dark. With the previous version of the OS, instead, it was possible to select only one of the two themes and the passage from one to the other did not take place automatically.

The functionality in question can be activated during the initial configuration phase of Catalina, but you can also choose to enable it later, by intervening on System Preferences. In this second case, click on the gear-shaped icon that you find on the Dock bar, select the item General in the window that opens on the desk and, subsequently, select the Auto option in correspondence with the word Appearance.


With Catalina comes also Sidecar, a native feature that allows you to use the iPad as a secondary monitor for the Mac. Thanks to it, you can work in an app while keeping another open, see a preview of a presentation on the iPad while it is being edited on the Mac etc. It also allows you to duplicate the computer screen to see the same things on the two displays.

You can connect the iPad to your Mac with a cable, to prevent it from running down, or wirelessly (within 10 meters of distance), to have more freedom of movement. Still taking advantage of Sidecar, you can take advantage of Apple Pencil with Mac apps (as long as they are compatible with graphic tablets), so you can write and draw naturally, retouch photographs and graphics and so on. Do not miss the opportunity to use multi-touch gestures along with some new gesture editing texts that allow you to cut, copy, paste and cancel operations performed.

To start using the function, just click on the System Preferences icon (the one with the gear wheel) located on the Dock bar, select the item Sidecar in the window that opens, select your iPad from the Connection drop-down menu a, adjust the preferences for the operation using the items and menus on the right and wait a few moments for the connection to be established.

Alternatively, you can quickly activate the function by selecting the AirPlay icon (the one with the rectangle and the triangle) that you find in the upper right part of the Mac screen, select your iPad from the menu that opens, wait for the connection between the two devices, the preferences can be established and adjusted using the menu always visible in the upper part of the Mac desk.

Time of use

Another interesting novelty available with Catalina is the Time of use function, already usable for some time on iOS devices. Thanks to it, it is possible to monitor and set the time spent on applications and websites. Furthermore, with iCloud you can synchronize settings and combine use between iPhone, iPad and Mac, all privately, through end-to-end encryption.

To take advantage of the feature in question, click on the System Preferences icon (the one with the gear wheel) located on the Dock bar and, in the window that opens on the screen, click on the Use time icon. In the new screen displayed, on the right you will find the graphs related to the use, while on the left the various categories and options for configuring the service.

Musica, Podcast e TV

In macOS Catalina, Apple has removed iTunes by proposing in its place specific applications to perform various functions: Music, Podcasts and TV. More precisely, the Music application allows you to manage the local music library and the cloud library and, of course, to access the iTunes Store and take advantage of the Apple Music service for music streaming.

The Podcast application, on the other hand, allows you to follow what are the podcasts of interest, while the TV application offers different options to allow users to find and watch movies and TV shows, offering Apple TV channels, personalized suggestions or films and iTunes TV broadcasts to browse, buy or rent

All three applications can be called up by selecting the relevant icons on the Dock bar or via the Launchpad or, again, from the MacOS Applications folder.

Sincronizzazione dei dispositivi

Even if iTunes is no longer available, there is still the possibility to synchronize the contents between Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod via cable, taking advantage of the new entertainment applications and the Finder.

In fact, when you connect a device to your Mac, it will immediately appear in the sidebar, allowing you to perform operations such as backups and updates, as well as perform recovery and synchronize content with the computer. Basically, everything that previously could have been done using iTunes.

The first time you connect an Apple mobile device to your computer, you must provide the relevant authorization by pressing the Authorize button on the display of the iPhone, iPad or iPod, typing in the unlock code and clicking the Authorize button on the Mac screen.

Other interesting news

Another interesting novelty regarding Catalina macOS are those on the security front. In particular, Gatekeeper brings with it new levels of protection, requiring that all applications obtain permission from the user before accessing documents; the operating system runs on a dedicated read-only volume, so that nothing can accidentally overwrite the system files and you can use Apple Watch to log in to your Mac account (as was already the case with the previous version of macOS), but also to approve the installation of new programs, unlock protected notes, etc. Note, then, that 32-bit applications are no longer supported.

For more details about the new features already mentioned and to find out what else is on MacOS Catalina again, I invite you to consult this special Web page dedicated to the OS that Apple has made available on its website.

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