MacOS 10.15 Catalina: 13 problems and fixes

How to fix macOS 10.15 Catalina problems

Hello, thrill seekers. Looks like you’ve installed macOS Catalina Beta knowing it’s not perfect and despite all warnings ended up here. You are not alone. We’ve rummaged through the internet and collected all macOS Catalina issues known to date. And boy, there’s a lot of wrongs to fix.

  1. Can’t install macOS Catalina
  2. Catalina freezes upon reboot
  3. Catalina apps not working
  4. macOS Catalina is running slow
  5. Problem with Apple ID settings
  6. Sidecar problems on macOS Catalina
  7. iCloud problems on Catalina
  8. Music Library freezing
  9. Too many notifications
  10. Bluetooth not available on macOS Catalina
  11. Safari Extensions stopped working
  12. Storage filling up for no reason
  13. iTunes XML file crisis

1. Can’t install macOS Catalina

You’ve unpacked the installer and now macOS Catalina update stuck on the initial reboot. All you can see is a black screen and even a hard reboot doesn’t help it. Though it’s perfectly normal for an installation to take some time (sometimes up to 10 hours), you can try a few workarounds.

  • Install Catalina in the Safe Mode
  1. Press and hold down the Power key to shut down your computer. 
  2. Now, hold down Shift while it’s booting up.

    You will see the Apple logo on a grayish background with a progress bar. After you entered the Safe mode, run the Catalina installer again. Hopefully, it reaches completion this time.

Tip: Press Command + L in the middle of the macOS installation. You will see if it’s still active and the remaining time before completion.

  • Do a PRAM and SMC Reset

It’s one of those last-ditch solutions that restore deep system settings including kernel information. It isn’t something you should be doing regularly but in our case, it’s worth trying.

How to reset PRAM

1.Shut down your computer
2. Press the Power key
3. Immediately press Command + Option + P + R keys
4. Hold down the keys until your Mac reboots
5. Let go of the keys

To reset SMC

1. Turn off your Mac
2. Hold down Control + Shift + Option and press power
3. Hold the buttons for 10-15 sec
4. Release the keys and restart your Mac

After you’re done, repeat macOS Catalina installation from scratch.

  • Free up space on your drive

macOS Catalina takes up about 30 GB on your drive. That’s unprecedented in macOS history. When you see the "macOS Catalina cannot be installed on Macintosh HD" message, this sometimes means that there is not enough disk space for the new macOS. Therefore, you need to free up some space on your Mac.

How to free up space? Move your largest files onto an external drive — will take you about 20 minutes. Or if it looks like too much fuss, free up your storage with CleanMyMac X. It’s a tool that is actually notarized by Apple (shouldn’t be confused with MacKeeper). 

You’ll easily remove 7-10 GBs of system garbage. Then you can install macOS Catalina on a drive that’s clean and refreshed.

CleanMyMac - cleanup log

Here I’ve found a link to a free version of this app — enjoy.

Catalina installation stuck on “Setting up your Mac” screen

So your installation has started but seems to be stuck on the initial screen. What can you do? If your patience has finally run out, it’s time for a mission abort.

  1. Press the power button and wait till your Mac reboots.
  2. Start the installation all over again — this time it should go fine.

2. macOS Catalina freezes upon reboot

The situation looks like this: macOS Catalina has completed the install, and after you restart your Mac it is stuck on login screen. You see the progress bar but it isn’t going anywhere. What to do?

As one user pointed out, the problem may be caused by 3d party kernel extensions or kexts. They act as drivers — if you like a Windows analogy — and give access to your Mac’s hardware.

  • Solution: Move Library Extensions

As a band-aid solution, you can relocate your /Library/Extensions kexts to a backup folder. As confirmed by many users, this fixes macOS Catalina stuck on reboot problem.

To perform this, you will need Terminal app:

Click Launchpad > Terminal
Now paste in the following command:

mkdir ~/Extensions-Backup && sudo mv /Library/Extensions/* ~/Extensions-Backup/

This command relocates your Library Extensions to the username/Extensions Backup folder. Later you can put the Extensions back where they belong at: /Library/Extensions.

3. macOS Catalina apps not working

app is not optimized for your mac | macOS catalina issues

This is one of the macOS Catalina problems that trails back to macOS Mojave. As you’ve probably heard, app architecture knows 2 types: 32-bit and 64-bit. The 32-bit apps will not be supported on macOS Catalina, period. Sadly, they are not just some lo-fi indie apps, we are talking Photoshop!

Did you know:Apple states that 64-bit apps use memory more effectively and so will work faster on your Mac.

  • Check your 32-bit apps 

There’s a quick way to count your potentially problematic applications.

  1. Click the Apple logo > About this Mac > System report
  2. Now find Applications in the sidebar.
Activity monitor: 32 bit apps

To have a deeper look into your apps, where they come from, and how much space they are taking, run the Uninstaller tool in CleanMyMac X. Download this program here — it’s free to download.

Launch the app and click the Uninstaller tab

CleanMyMac - 32 bit apps

Here you can see your 32-bit apps and sort apps by “Last used.”

For example, I found a 32-bit video editor, which I didn’t realize was there, stealing away 600 MB of my space.

  • Reset an app that misbehaves

If a particular app stopped working on macOS Catalina, you can reset it with CleanMyMac. This operation doesn’t delete any user data and only restores it to the default state. In 9 out of 10 cases this helps solve syncing issues and sudden app freeze-ups.

Choose an app from the list in the Uninstaller (see screenshot above)
Now click on the drop-down menu under “Uninstall” button
Click on the Reset button that appears

  • Update your applications

In anticipation of various macOS Catalina issues, some developers have already optimized their programs for the new OS. Go to the developer’s site and download the latest available version.

Yes, I’ve already told you about CleanMyMac, but it appears to have just the right tool to handle macOS updates. It automatically updates every single app on your Mac. Though it may take some time, it’s a smart way to debug your macOS Catalina apps.

Once you get CleanMyMac X, click the Updater tab in the sidebar.
Click Select All above the app list.
Now, click Update.

4. macOS Catalina is running slow

Quite expectedly, some of the most reported issues on macOS Catalina are speed-related. Some background processes are hogging the CPU, most notably, the fileproviderd process. Thing is, macOS 10.15 Catalina heavily exchanges data with web-related processes, like cloud storages. There are countless rough edges to this process.

  1. Disable the fileproviderd process
  2. Go to Launchpad > Activity monitor

    Activity Monitor

    Here you’ll need to figure out what process is eating up the most resources. Watch out for the processes named mds and fileproviderd. If they take up 80-100% of CPU, try closing them using the [X] button above.

  3. Disable browser extensions
  4. Browser extensions may be the culprit of many macOS Catalina issues. Leave the bare minimum of browser extensions and see how your Mac reacts.

    remove extensions in macOS Catalina

5. Problem with Apple ID settings

This happens when Catalina is prompting you to update your Apple ID details. You’ve entered your password but the pop-up keeps coming back after some time.

  • Solution: Enable Keychain in iCloud settings

Go to System Preferences > Internet Accounts > iCloud
Log in into your account and check the list of services that use iCloud. 

Apple ID settings Catalina

Tick Keychain and enter your credentials.

    6. Sidecar problems on macOS Catalina

    problems with macOS Catalina: Side-car not working

    Sidecar is a feature that doubles your workspace as you can use an iPad as a second monitor. The common issue here is inability to connect your iPad to the computer. First off, make sure you have iPadOS installed on your iPad. Then, find your Mac in the list of Sidecar-supported models:

    • Late 2015 27″ iMac 
    • 2017 iMac Pro
    • Mid 2016 MacBook Pro 
    • Late 2018 Mac mini 
    • Late 2018 MacBook Air 
    • Early 2016 MacBook 
    • 2019 Mac Pro

    If your Mac is pre-2015, there’s still a workaround to enable Sidecar.

    Open Terminal and paste in the following command:

    defaults write allowAllDevices -bool YES

    Did it make the trick? Unfortunately, this combination is not guaranteed to work.

    • Delete old Wi-Fi connections

    Given your Mac is Sidecar compatible, connect the iPad with a cable instead of a wireless connection. If it doesn’t work, delete your old wifi connections and try connecting again. 

    To delete your old Wi-Fi connections, you can go with a free tool in CleanMyMac X:

    Run CleanMyMac
    Click on the Privacy tab in the sidebar
    Choose Wi-Fi networks to remove

    CleanMyMac - wifi networks

    Try reconnecting the iPad.

    7. iCloud issues on macOS Catalina

    Cannot download folders from iCloud

    iCloud integration is one of those weak spots that produce tons of bugs. Fixes for such macOS Catalina problems are already on the way. 

    • Download each file individually

    If you cannot download folders from iCloud, download each file individually. Unfortunately, this is the only available workaround at this point.

    Did you know: Some part of your iCloud data is stored on both Google and Amazon data centers.

    Cannot accept iCloud terms and conditions on Catalina

    As of October 2019, this problem has too been widely reported. No matter how many times you’ve accepted the conditions, the legal disclaimer keeps coming up. It appears, that the problem occurs because you have more than just one device connected to iCloud.

    icloud issues macos catalina
    • Go to System Preferences > Internet Accounts.
    • Now, click the iCloud icon

    You should see the Terms & Conditions pop-ups that is now in a pending state. Press Accept.

    Repeat the procedure for all iCloud accounts and your devices you’ll see in the list.

    8. Music Library freezing

    The iTunes had been the centerpiece of music on macOS. With its removal things quickly went sideways. Since the arrival of the iTunes successor, Music app, many folks noticed their album artworks missing, Music Library freezing etc.

    The typical case is your Mac says its “updating the Music Library”, spinning endlessly, without any progress. The issue is likely caused by obsolete Mojave caches and the remains your previous iTunes ecosystem. 

    • Empty your Music folder 

    And all music-related Library caches.

    1. Back up your music and move it out of Music folder
    2. Open ~/Library and delete any items titled “Music” or “iTunes”
    3. Repeat for ~/Library/Caches
    4. Restart your Mac and see if it worked

    Don’t forget to put your music albums back where they had been before.

    9. Too many notifications

    Too many notifications on Catalina

    Go to System Preferences > Internet AccountsNow, click the iCloud iconYou should see the Terms & Conditions pop-ups that is now in a pending state. Press Accept.Repeat the procedure for all iCloud accounts you’ll see in the list.

    Go to System Preferences > Internet AccountsNow, click the iCloud iconYou should see the Terms & Conditions pop-ups that is now in a pending state. Press Accept.Repeat the procedure for all iCloud accounts you’ll see in the list.

    The swarm of permission prompts in new macOS Catalina is already getting on many users’ nerves. Once you have upgraded to Catalina, you’ll notice that every routine action now requires your explicit approval — the pitfalls of mass security obsession in 2019.

    macOS Catalina even goes as far as safe-guarding your online downloads. Every site now asks for permissions to “install on your Mac.” Ironically, this is exactly what Mac users have been mocking in Windows for years.

    Unfortunately, there is no workaround in sight for this. 

    10. Bluetooth not available on macOS Catalina

    If your Bluetooth is not working on macOS Catalina, there’s one easy trick you can do. You should try deleting your Bluetooth.plist files. Don’t worry, it will auto-create a new copy of itself. 

    1.Click Finder > Go > Go to Folder…
    2.Type in: Library/Preferences

    System preferences

    Now, look for a file

    3. Delete it and restart your Mac.

    11. Safari Extensions stopped working

    There is a certain kind of Safari extensions, namely, .safariextz files that have been excluded from support in macOS Catalina. They no longer can be installed on Extensions page and are now considered “Legacy.”

    RES, Ublock, and Bitwarden are some of the notable extensions  that Safari users will miss on Catalina. What’s happening is Apple gradually moving away from the accepted web extensions format (WebExtensions) to the iOS-compatible extensions. 

    • Accept this fact (or wait patiently)

    If you are missing your favorite ad blockers or other extensions, the easiest is to switch to a different browser. There is also a possibility that the developers will overhaul their extensions to support Safari 13 but we all will have to wait until that happens.

    12. Storage filling up for no reason

    So you’ve upgraded to macOS Catalina only to discover that a big chunk of free space is missing. Some identified folder is eating up your storage but how can you find it? The issue could be related to Time Machine backups and clones of APFS snapshots stored in different locations. 

    • Slim down your Time Machine snapshots

    You can perform this operation safely in CleanMyMac X.
    Download the app (a link to free edition) and launch it.

    In CleanMyMac X:

    Click the Maintenance tab
    Choose “Time Machine snapshots thinning

    As a manual solution, paste in the following commands in Terminal:

    tmutil listlocalsnapshots / tmutil listlocalsnapshots /System/Volumes/Data

    This lists the local snapshots created by your Time Machine. If you’re ready to delete those, type in this:

    deletelocalsnapshots <snapshot_date> </snapshot_date>
    should match the date in the snapshot’s name.

    A few universal fixes to macOS 10.15 Catalina issues

    1. Quit and restart/reopen an app or a document that malfunctions — works for 80% of the issues
    2. Restart your Mac and try logging in under a different user
    3. Check your Mac for hidden background apps and disable those

    How to check your macOS Catalina for hidden processes

    There are many so-called daemons or Launch Agents that operate in the background on your Mac. They could be small applications, like Google Software Updater or a notifications scheduler, or in worst cases, advertising scripts. The best way to deal with them is to look underneath your macOS processes and disable anything even remotely suspicious.

    1. Launch the free edition of CleanMyMac — it’s optimized for macOS Catalina
    2. Find the Speed tool with 2 options Optimization and Maintenance
    3. Click Launch Agents
    4. Study your memory processes closely. Run the Launch Agents too see the background apps. Additionally, click Heavy Consumers, and switch off any item you don’t need.

    That was our little take on common macOS 10.15 Catalina problems. Something tells us there’ll be lots of newly discovered headaches once Catalina is out of Beta. But If you feel you’ve had your share of incompatibilities and bugs, you can always go back and clean install macOS Mojave

    13. The iTunes XML crisis

    With iTunes being history now, its remnants keep chasing users from beyond the grave. Apparently, some DJ apps have been relying on a specific XML library file that’s now dead and gone with iTunes.

    The new Music app was supposed to provide a manual workaround, alas it didn’t. This seriously disrupts the DJ business on planet Earth — until Apple releases a fix in the next macOS Catalina update.

    The notable DJ apps affected by this are Traktor and Rekordbox. The issue has made the world news and was even covered by Forbes so the fix is hopefully, already in the works. The last-ditch option that’s left is to you is to downgrade to macOS Mojave so you can enjoy iTunes in its full glory again.

    These might also interest you:

    CleanMyMac X
    CleanMyMac X

    Your Mac. As good as new.