What they get wrong about macOS Catalina

Apple’s new operating system, macOS Catalina, has some fantastic new features and will bring performance improvements in a number of areas. However, it’s not perfect and won’t be right for every Mac user. Here are five myths about macOS Catalina.

Myth #1: It will make your Mac run faster

It’s widely assumed that every new version of macOS will make your Mac run faster. But that’s not the case. In fact, Apple has said very little so far on the anticipated performance benefits of upgrading to Catalina. And there have been no reports from beta testers of wild speed boosts. Apple has focused this update on adding new features, many of them related to security and privacy and improving the way that your Mac works with iOS devices. So you shouldn’t expect to see any performance gains from upgrading. In fact, given that the new OS is likely to be more resource-hungry — illustrated by the fact that some Macs which are supported in Mojave won’t run in Catalina — it may even make your Mac run a little more slowly.

If you want to make your Mac run more quickly, it’s a good idea to give it a bit of a tune-up. Review launch Agents and startup items, get rid of junk files, update applications, and scan your computer for malware.

You could do those things manually (with the exception of scanning for malware), but I recommend using CleanMyMac X. It makes it very quick and easy to do and, at the very least, will free up several gigabytes of space on your startup disk. Well-known Mac blog iMore described CleanMyMac X as ‘the simplest way to keep your Mac clean.’ Well, that could be true. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download, install, and open CleanMyMac X
  2. Choose Smart Scan from the sidebar.
  3. Click Scan.
  4. When it’s finished, click Run.

Myth #2: You won’t be able to install non-App Store apps

This one’s not true, either. While Apple sets Apps downloaded from the App Store as the default in Security & Privacy in System Preferences, you will still be able to change that so that you can download apps from recognized developers. And you will still be able to override it altogether, so you can download apps even if they are not from recognized developers.

However, Catalina does feature one change. In order to fall into the ‘recognized developers’ category, some (though not all) software will no longer just have to be code signed; it will need to be notarized, too. That means developers will have to submit software to Apple for checking to make sure it doesn’t contain malware. 

Myth #3: It’s immune from malware

No. While Catalina has improvements to security, it would be a mistake to assume it’s safe from malware. Since much malware is ‘bundled’ with apparently legitimate software, Catalina won’t be immune. So, you should apply the same diligence to protecting your Mac from malware as you have always done. That means no clicking on links in emails or websites unless you are certain of where they go, no downloading software from obscure websites, and no installing apps unless you know exactly what they are.

As stated by the developers, CleanMyMac X is able to detect virus-infected DMG app installers even before you open them.

Pretty cool. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X — download it for free here.
  2. Select Malware Removal in the sidebar.
  3. Click Scan.
  4. Hopefully, your Mac will have a clean bill of health. If not, follow the instructions on-screen to remove malware.

Myth #4: Apple is merging iOS and macOS

This rumor has been around for several years. And it’s still not true. Yes, Apple has made it easier, with Project Catalyst, for developers to port iOS apps to the Mac. And it has brought some of its own apps, such as News and Voice Memos, to the Mac recently. And in Catalina, Apple has introduced Sidecar —a feature that will allow you to use an iPad as a second display or even as a graphics tablet with a display. However, it’s very clear that Apple sees macOS, iOS, and iPadOS as very distinct operating systems. It’s also clear, with the launch of the new Mac Pro and Pro Display, that Apple is once again focused on pro users. And for those users especially, merging iOS and macOS would make no sense. Apple may eventually migrate the Mac to the same ARM processor architecture as it uses for iOS devices, but macOS will remain.

Myth #5: You won’t be able to sync or restore an iOS device in Catalina

This one is perhaps easier to understand than the others. The method by which iOS devices currently sync, update, and restore from a Mac is iTunes. And iTunes won’t exist in Catalina. So, perhaps it’s easy to assume that there will be no way to do those things in Catalina. However, Apple has announced that in Catalina,  you will be able to sync, backup, and restore iOS devices in the Finder. When you plug in an iPhone, iPad, or iPod to your Mac running Catalina, it will appear in the sidebar of a Finder window. When you click on it, you will see the same window you now see in iTunes when you click on an iOS device. If anything, working with an iOS device in Catalina will be easier than it is in previous versions of macOS because you won’t have to use iTunes, and so iTunes won’t launch automatically whenever you plug your iPhone into your Mac. 

There are always lots of myths surrounding the launch of a new version of macOS, and Catalina is no different. However, they are just that — myths. The important thing to remember before you upgrade is to check your Mac is compatible, back it up, and give it a tune-up using CleanMyMac X. Do that, and you really will feel like you’re using a new Mac.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.