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macOS 10.15 Catalina Released Today

macOS 10.15 “Catalina” has lots of changes that impact both consumers, and businesses. Make sure you understand how they may impact you, or your team, before you upgrade because there is no “undo.” And for now, we recommend waiting.

If you’ve been paying attention to the news about this release since details were made public at WWDC this past summer, there are a lot of changes. Some, such as iTunes being broken into Music, PodCast and TV apps, will affect end-users more than most businesses. Others, that are centered on security, affect everyone, and business owners need to think about the impact.

The first one to consider is that 32-bit apps are dead, and will not work. All applications must be 64-bit and in macOS 10.14 Mojave Apple started giving users a warning, but the change is absolute now. If your daily workflow (or company workflow) relies on any 32-bit apps, you must find an upgrade or replacement that is 64-bit before upgrading to Catalina. If you don’t, that app will not function, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Luckily, there is a great free app out there to help figure this out called Go64. You can download it for free (donations accepted) and run it on your computer to see if you have any 32-bit applications. If you’re a business owner with multiple computers, we strongly recommend you do this on each and every Mac. This may sound tedious, but what we’ve encountered so far is that while a primary application may be 64-bit, such as Adobe Photoshop, you may find that plug-ins a few people on your team rely on for their regular workflow, are in fact not fully 64-bit yet. Here is an example of a few apps we already know will not work on Catalina:

  • FileMaker Pro 14 and older
  • Microsoft Office 2011
  • Aperture
  • ScanSnap Manager for Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners
  • Adobe Creative Cloud version 1.x and older
  • Quickbooks 2015 and 2016
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Many others still haven’t been updated or fully tested by the developers. In some cases, the primary application itself is 64-bit, but an extra “helper app” has yet to be updated. For example, the “auto-update” portion of Amazon Music on my computer is not yet 64-bit. Like most businesses, many folks on our staff have accumulated a few applications or utilities that they use, but have not been issued company-wide. In order to ensure we’ve considered everything, we have to check each computer.

The other big changes are under the hood and geared towards more, and stronger, security. These have to do with separating macOS from all user data (a process handled by the installer where it carves up the storage in the computer and hides the division from the end-user), and changes in how permission can be granted to access your data and make changes to your computer. This second change will impact the end-user’s experience by virtue of a lot of “are-you-sure-you-want-to-let-this-app-do-that-action” kind of dialog boxes. This also means that our ability to perform remote maintenance and support on computers running Catalina will be impacted because we will no longer be able to grant ourselves permission to perform some of these actions. Catalina enhances existing security controls that can tell the difference between a password being entered by a physical keyboard vs. via a remote support application, and expects more things to be handled by someone sitting in front of the computer. While this is obviously great for security (the intent being to prevent background scripts or malicious websites from granting themselves permission to do things on your computer), it comes at a bit of a cost of convenience.

Again, there are lots of nice new features in macOS 10.15 Catalina, and we’re looking forward to the enhanced security in many ways. But as always, your mileage will vary depending on the context of what you use (software and hardware peripherals) and how you use it. I’m sure some of you will call me a party-pooper, but as always, think and dig a little before you leap, as there are no “undo” options for this major upgrade. Most software and hardware developers wait until after the new OS hits the streets before they finalize testing, so it takes a few weeks, and sometimes months, to release fully compatible application versions. And please, remember to back up your computer before performing an upgrade!

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