Catalina Mac & macOS

No Mac Is an Island with macOS Catalina

Let’s face it. Macs users are adrift in a sea of iOS units. Waves of iPhones and iPads break round us, and even an occasional iPod contact floats by. So it shouldn’t be at all shocking that the forthcoming macOS 10.15 Catalina focuses on modifications that deliver the Mac and iOS nearer than ever before.

That’s to not say that Apple is making an attempt to switch the Mac with iOS or remove these unique capabilities of the Mac that make it special. The Mac and macOS stay first-class, vibrant members of Apple’s hardware and software platforms. But what we’re not going to see, at the least from Apple, are new applied sciences that set the Mac additional aside from its iOS brethren. In relation to operating techniques, it’s protected to say that it’s one for all, and all for Apple.

In as we speak’s Worldwide Developer Convention keynote, Apple’s Craig Federighi whipped by way of the most important modifications, most of which revolved around individual apps. Unsurprisingly, those modifications largely mirror or are matched by comparable modifications in the iOS variations, however there were Mac-specific enhancements as properly.

Ding, Dong, iTunes Is Lifeless

Federighi had a wonderful riff where he mentioned all of the options Apple was planning so as to add to iTunes—Calendar! Mail! A dock!—before acknowledging that iTunes is lifeless, Jim. (Cue the music from the Wizard of Oz.) Or somewhat, it’s lifeless on the Mac—iTunes will live on, zombie-like, for Windows.

As an alternative, to match iOS, Apple has cut up the iTunes function set into three new apps, referred to as Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. (In truth, Federighi referred to as Music “Apple Music,” but Apple’s preview web page for Catalina calls it just “Music,” which is sweet since in any other case we’d be talking about subscribing to Apple Music in Apple Music.)

Apple Podcasts in Catalina

So far as we might tell from the fast presentation, the three apps are just like their iOS counterparts, though Federighi did say the Apple TV app on the Mac would help 4K HDR video with HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient and Atmos on sufficiently succesful Macs. One new function—albeit one which extends to the iOS and tvOS variations as properly—the Music app’s participant can present lyrics in actual time as music performs.

What concerning the syncing options of iTunes? macOS Catalina builds them into the Finder. Attach an iOS gadget to a Mac and it appears in a Finder window’s sidebar. Select it and what appears like the standard iTunes sync settings display appears in the window. You gained’t get syncing or management of iOS apps, however you’ll have the ability to back up, replace, and restore units from the Mac.

Managing an iPhone in the FInder

Within the “one more new app” category unrelated to iTunes (and once more mirrored in iOS), a brand new Discover My app combines the capabilities of Find My iPhone and Find My Associates to display the situation of both units and other people. Location-based notifications can now be scheduled for different days of the week and supply more helpful place names. Most apparently, a lacking Mac that’s asleep can nonetheless report its location by way of Bluetooth (in a totally encrypted, nameless approach) to close by Apple units.

App Enhancements

Catalina brings enhancements—some vital, some not—to lots of Apple’s included apps. Again, for probably the most half, these modifications also exist in the iOS versions.


Apple continues to tinker with Pictures, this time making an attempt a brand new shopping experience with loads of machine-learning underpinnings. Previews at the moment are bigger that will help you distinguish between photographs, Pictures learns who’s in your pictures to spotlight essential photographs, and new Day, Month, and Yr views summarize what you’ve carried out in those time frames by eliminating comparable footage and focusing on key pictures.

The new Photos layout

Stay Photographs and videos now begin enjoying as you scroll, making them simpler to determine and bringing your library to life. You’ll additionally be capable of view Memory films on your Mac and edit the period, mood, and title—your edits will sync to different units in the event you use iCloud Photographs.


We’ve criticized Reminders quite a few occasions (see “Bad Apple #3: Reminders Doesn’t Listen to Siri,” 6 April 2018, and “Bad Apple #4: Reminders Stinks at Sorting,” three Might 2019) and whereas it remains to be seen if Apple has addressed those issues specifically, the corporate has significantly up to date the app. A couple of of the primary modifications embrace:

  • Including occasions, dates, and places not requires opening another display.
  • You’ll be able to add attachments comparable to photographs, paperwork, scans, and Net links.
  • Sensible lists mechanically arrange upcoming reminders from totally different lists into classes like Immediately, Flagged, and Scheduled.
  • Siri can now recommend reminders if you’re planning in a Messages dialog, and in case you tag someone in a reminder, the subsequent time you chat with them in Messages, the reminder will provide you with a warning.
  • You possibly can group multiple lists and capture duties which are associated with a top-level reminder
  • For added visible interest, you’ll be able to customize lists with 12 colours and 60 symbols.

The Reminders app in Catalina.


Apple’s Notes app will function a brand new gallery view that shows notes as thumbnails, which might assist if your notes are largely graphical. It additionally provides new checklist choices that make it easier to reorder checklist gadgets and reuse checklists without having uncheck each item individually.

Sharing in Notes will enhance as properly, with a view-only choice that allows you to share gadgets so everyone else can see what you do without with the ability to make modifications. And when you do a whole lot of sharing, you possibly can share complete folders fairly than just particular person notes, both with full entry or view-only permissions.


Not much has modified in Safari, but Catalina brings an updated start page, makes it easier to enable Image in Image, warns you about weak passwords, and directs you to open tabs that match the URL of a website that you simply’re typing.


As with Safari, Mail’s modifications are pretty minor. Will probably be capable of block all messages from specified senders and transfer their messages to the trash. Or, if that’s too excessive, you possibly can mute threads which might be being overly lively. Lastly, mailing listing messages will get an Unsubscribe hyperlink above the header.

Display Time

One other know-how that Apple is bringing from iOS to macOS with Catalina is Display Time, which tracks and studies in your utilization, and allows you to set usage limits. It’s a welcome move since parental controls in macOS had been ignored for years. Display Time on the Mac will present the same set of Downtime and App Limits as in iOS, and for those who use iCloud, it’ll sync the same settings throughout all your units. A function that appears to be new is the concept of “combined limits” that deliver collectively a mixture of app categories, specific apps, and Web pages.

Screen Time in Catalina.

Mother and father will recognize Display Time’s new capability to manage contacts and set communication limits, and when you’ve got Household Sharing turned on, you’ll have the ability to configure and manage Display Time from any system on your youngsters on all their units.

Everyone who uses Display Deadlines will like the brand new “One more minute” choice that provides you another 60 seconds to finish up what you’re doing.


With the brand new Sidecar function, Apple is bringing Macs and iPads closer together… literally. Very similar to options corresponding to AirDisplay, DisplayLink, Duet Show, and Luna Display, Sidecar permits you to turn an iPad into a secondary display and graphics pill on your Mac. (Our condolences to the developers of the opposite screen-sharing apps, who’ve simply been Sherlocked.)

Sidecar will work wirelessly or over a wired connection, and our guess is that the latter will present better efficiency. You should use it either to increase your desktop for extra display actual property or to mirror your display so others can see what you’re doing.

In case you use an Apple Pencil with your iPad, you’ll be capable of use it with tablet-enabled Mac apps, and regardless, Apple says you’ll be capable of write and sketch on PDFs or mark up paperwork with the Apple Pencil, a function referred to as Continuity Markup. Or, with Continuity Sketch, just sketch with the Apple Pencil and insert it into any Mac doc.

Commonplace Multi-Touch gestures will work on the iPad while it’s displaying text from a Mac app, even the new text-editing gestures in iPadOS. And eventually, apps with Contact Bar help will show Contact Bar controls at the bottom of the iPad display even on Macs that don’t have a Touch Bar.

In the event you’re wanting ahead to Sidecar, chances are you’ll need to decide up one thing like a Mountie (see “Attach an iPad to Your MacBook as a Second Display with Mountie,” 22 February 2019).

Venture Catalyst

With Mojave, Apple gave us Mac variations of House, News, Shares, and Voice Memos, because of a know-how codenamed “Marzipan” that made it straightforward to transform an iOS app to macOS. That was the first part of Apple’s master plan, and with Catalina, we’re shifting into the second part. The know-how now has a real identify—Venture Catalyst—and this yr builders are gaining access to the Catalyst know-how to create Mac variations of iOS apps.

Several outstanding third-party developers have been quoted on stage as to how quick and straightforward it was to make a Mac model of an iPad app, sustaining a single code base and with the identical improvement staff. I anticipate nothing less from a keynote.

What stays to be seen, nevertheless, is if Apple has enhanced the Catalyst know-how sufficiently so the Mac apps built with it don’t suck. House, Information, Shares, and Voice Memos run, but they’re awful Mac apps.

That may principally be an situation with productivity apps that we anticipate to look, stroll, speak, and quack like Mac apps. For games and Net apps, simply having one thing native on the Mac somewhat than having to modify units or run in a browser tab can be welcome.

Security and Safety

Apple continues to improve the safety of its platforms, and Catalina receives some enhancements in that space:

  • Dedicated system quantity: To stop system information from being tampered with, Catalina runs in a dedicated, read-only system volume. That additionally retains it separate from all other knowledge. We’ll be curious how this impacts macOS setup and troubleshooting.
  • Enhanced Gatekeeper: We’re guessing this bullet level from Apple includes notarization, about which Howard Oakley has written an incredible deal at his Eclectic Mild Company weblog.
  • Activation Lock: Macs with T2 chips achieve help for Activation Lock, identical to iOS units, so if one is lost or stolen, only you possibly can erase and reactivate it.
  • Separated kernel extensions: To extend safety (and doubtless reliability), Catalina requires peripherals and low-level apps that relied on kernel extensions to run separately from the working system. We’re betting this can trigger compatibility issues with older units and software program.
  • More knowledge protections: Apps operating in Catalina should ask for permission to access even more of your knowledge or to carry out actions like key logging or video recording that could possibly be privacy violations.

The function that the majority intrigues me is that Catalina will let you approve any dialog that asks in your Mac’s login password by double-clicking the aspect button in your Apple Watch. Eventually!

Accessibility Improvements with Voice Control

In “Nuance Has Abandoned Mac Speech Recognition. Will Apple Fill the Void?” (21 January 2019), I wrote concerning the issues Mac customers confronted after Nuance discontinued Dragon Skilled Individual for Mac, and TidBITS reader Todd Scheresky referred to as for Apple so as to add help for customized words, speaker-dependent continuous speech recognition, and cursor positioning and mouse button occasions.

Fortunately, it appears Apple was listening, since Catalina encompasses a slew of accessibility improvements, together with every little thing Scheresky asked for. The brand new Voice Control functionality provides full control over your Mac and any iOS units. You possibly can rely totally in your voice to navigate an app by way of navigation instructions, names of accessibility labels, numbers pointing at controls, and grids.

Anybody taken with decreasing their typing will recognize Voice Control’s enhanced dictation, and it builds in a wealthy set of text-editing commands that allow you to right words, exchange phrases by identify, choose textual content, or navigate inside text. Even higher, in case you want to use voice commands to regulate your Mac, it is going to seamlessly transition between text dictation and commands.

Frankly, Voice Control may be probably the most essential improvements in Catalina and iOS 13.

But that’s not all of the accessibility enhancements in Catalina, others of which embrace:

  • The choice to tint your whole display, which might help individuals with numerous visible difficulties and migraines—see Charles Maurer’s dialogue of the topic in “Better than the Printed Page: Reading on an iPad” (15 March 2018)
  • The potential to use the new text-to-speech Siri voice for VoiceOver and Speech
  • Hover Textual content, which shows a high-resolution zoom of textual content, textual content fields, menu gadgets, buttons, and extra in a devoted window
  • An choice to make use of a second display to zoom a portion of the identical display
  • Simplified tab navigation by way of VoiceOver

Other Features

As you’d anticipate, Apple has loads of different small options slated for Catalina. Probably the most fascinating ones embrace:

  • iCloud Drive folder sharing makes Apple’s file sharing answer extra competitive with providers like Dropbox.
  • File sharing providers achieve a brand new approach to integrate with the Finder while not having a kernel extension.
  • If an update causes problems, you’ll be capable of use macOS Restoration to restore from an APFS snapshot taken simply before the set up. That ought to scale back the stress concerned with putting in macOS updates.
  • Enhancements in QuickTime Player embrace Image in Picture, film creation from a folder of sequentially numbered stills, extra technical details about films, and timecode help.
  • HomeKit Secure Video will document video safety to iCloud. Look for HomeKit-enabled safety cameras to seem soon.
  • Unified Apple ID account info might be out there immediately on the Mac. This is in all probability one other facet of iTunes that Apple wanted to break out.


Betas of macOS Catalina for developers can be obtainable throughout WWDC, and Tim Prepare dinner stated that a public beta would arrive in July 2019, with the final launch due within the “fall,” in all probability which means September of this yr.

Catalina has the identical hardware requirements as Mojave, operating on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac fashions from 2012 and later, Mac Professional models from 2013 and later, and all fashions of the MacBook and iMac Professional.