Things you couldn’t do before macOS Catalina

MacOS Catalina brings with it a whole bunch of new features that will make your Mac safer, more productive, and more fun to use. If you thought the biggest news about Catalina was. The killing of iTunes, think again. There’s much more to it than that. So without further delay, here are five things you couldn’t do before Catalina.

1. Use your iPad as a second display

    Ok, so that’s not quite true. There are third party apps that allow you to do it. But in Catalina you don’t need any additional apps. You’ll be able to have your iPad mirror your Mac’s display or act as an extension of it. And you can do it by connecting your iPad to your Mac with a cable, or wirelessly as long as its within 10 metres. 

    It doesn’t stop there, though. In apps that support it, like Affinity Photos, Adobe Illustrator, and Final Cut Pro, you can use an Apple Pencil with your iPad to draw and sketch in apps on your Mac. If you don’t use those apps, you can still markup PDFs on your iPad with Apple Pencil and see the results live on your Mac, or sketch on your iPad and put the sketch into any document on your Mac. And, you’re able to use Touch Bar controls on your iPad, even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. Cool, huh?

    If you haven’t already upgraded to Catalina, it’s worth preparing your Mac before you do. Make a full backup and consider giving it a tune-up to get rid of files you no longer need and clean up your system to improve performance.

    The easiest way to do that, and the one I recommend is CleanMyMac X’s Smart Scan. It’s really easy to use and with a couple of clicks you could free up several gigabytes of disk space.

    Download the free version of this app here.

    2. Listen to podcasts in the new Podcasts app

    Yes, you could listen and subscribe to podcasts in iTunes. But let’s face it, the interface was horrible. The new Podcasts app works just like the one on your iPhone. You can browse and search Apple’s podcast library, subscribe to your favourite podcasts, listen to them or download them to listen to later. And everything you do is synced with your iOS devices, so you can start listening to a podcast on your Mac and continue on your iPhone. 

    3. Watch 4K and Dolby Atmos movies

    The new Apple TV app allows you to find and watch television programs from various streaming services, depending on where you live. And it is also the place to go to watch TV and movies you’ve bought previously from the iTunes Store. However, the big news is that Apple’s TV+ service will, when it launches, allow you to subscribe and watch exclusive Apple content and, if you have a Mac made in 2018 or later, watch in 4K and stream Dolby Atmos audio. So whether you want to watch great movies like Green Book, or an episode of Carpool Karaoke, you’ll be able to take advantage of your Mac’s big screen by using the Apple TV app.

    4. Control your Mac with your voice

    With Voice Control in Catalina, you can navigate your Mac and open and interact with apps using just your voice. Numbered labels next to clickable items make it easy to tel your Mac where to click, and a grid superimposed on-screen allows you to precisely select and drag elements, and zoom in. There are other features designed to help users with visual impairments. If you have a second display, you’ll be able to keep one screen zoomed in while the other remains at your regular resolution. That way you can use one screen as a prompt while the other displays slides when you give a presentation. Or you can read and edit small text while keeping an eye on the layout of a whole page. 

    You will also be able to zoom in on small sections of text just by hovering over them with the cursor and pressing control. High resolution text under the cursor will appear at a much larger size in its own window.

    5. Find your Mac even if it’s asleep and offline

    In Catalina, Apple has combined Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into one app. That means that whether you’ve lost an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or your trying to find out where your friend is, you can do it all from one app. However, the big news is that you will now be able to find a Mac, even if it’s asleep and offline. When you trigger Find My Mac, it sends out a Bluetooth signal that can be detected by Apple devices nearby and relayed to your Mac via iCloud. Apple has taken care to make sure everything is anonymous  and encrypted end-to-end. And it doesn’t degrade the battery or eat up data.

    Privacy and security are big features of Catalina. The OS itself runs on its own system volume so its separate from everything else on your Mac and nothing can overwrite system files. Apps now need to ask for permission before directly accessing files in your Documents, Desktop, and iCloud Drive and external volumes. Activation Lock means that only you will be able to erase and reactivate your Mac. And those Macs that have Apple’s T2 security chip will be able to use it to authenticate with Touch ID and Apple Pay.

    6. Keep a track of family screen time

    Catalina allows you to monitor and set limits on the time you spend in front of your Mac using Screen Time. And you can set limits on a per app, or per game basis, or put apps and games into categories and set limits on a per category basis. With Family Sharing switched on, yo can set limits for other members of your family, and limit who they can communicate with from their Apple devices and when they can do it.


    Catalina is an exciting update to macOS that means there are lots of things you can do that you couldn’t before. If you haven’t already upgraded, we’d definitely recommend doing it as soon as possible.

    PS. When you upgrade to the new OS there will be still parts and pieces of your old macOS scattered on your drive. We are talking about user cache files, broken downloads app leftovers, etc. You can dig out all these files with CleanMyMac X. Stripped from the old baggage your Mac should run a bit smoother on macOS Catalina.

    Hope you’ll enjoy the world of fun and utility that come along with macOS Catalina. But be careful with Beta versions, they might still be buggy.


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