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Feature Articles

Five must-know features of macOS Catalina

By Kenny Yeo - 13 Oct 2019

Five must-know features of macOS Catalina

Note: This article was first published on 9 October 2019.

macOS Catalina is the latest OS for Mac computers. (Image source: Apple)

macOS Catalina was unveiled at WWDC 2019 earlier this year and it is the latest version of macOS for Mac computers. It was made available for download yesterday and it comes with some notable new features and updates. Here are five of the most noteworthy ones.

 

Music, TV, and Podcast apps

All your music needs will be handled by the Music app. (Image source: Apple)

After 18 long years, iTunes has finally been put to bed. It was initially used for music and video playback, but over its long lifespan, it took on more tasks such as initiating and syncing iPods and later iPhones and iPads. And in its last days, it was even the gateway for Mac users to Apple Music and podcasts. Its myriad responsibilities led it to be less polished than what it could be and it’s nice to see that Apple is finally breaking it apart.

In its place are three separate apps: Music, TV, and Podcasts. Music will handle your iTunes library and also give to access to Apple Music. The TV app handles all your videos and provides access to the iTunes store and Apple’s new video streaming service, Apple TV+. Podcasts, as its name suggests, lets you browse, subscribe, and download podcasts on Apple Podcasts.

 

Sidecar

With Sidecar, if you have a Mac and an iPad, you can use the latter as a secondary display. (Image source: Apple)

Arguably the most anticipated feature of macOS Catalina is Sidecar, which lets your iPad act as a secondary display for your Mac without the need for a separate app or dongle. It works wirelessly and in wired mode and the latency surprisingly low even when used with a less powerful Mac like a MacBook Air. You can even use your Apple Pencil to draw on the iPad in Sidecar, which effectively turns your iPad into a drawing tablet. Take note, however, that your Mac needs to be running macOS Catalina and not all Macs and iPads are supported.

So what iPads and Macs are supported? Well, you are looking at the following:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7-inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (6th generation or later)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
     
  • MacBook (from 2016)
  • MacBook Air (from 2018)
  • MacBook Pros (from 2016)
  • Mac mini (from 2018)
  • iMacs (from late 2015)
  • iMac Pros
  • The upcoming 2019 Mac Pro

 

Find My

Find My app lets you locate all your Apple devices.

The Find My app comes to the Mac for the first time. This nifty app lets you keep track of your all your Apple devices and shows their locations even if they are offline by making use of nearby Apple devices to relay their location to the cloud and back to the owner.

 

Screen Time

Screen Time helps users manage and control their device usage behaviour. (Image source: Apple)

It has taken a whole year but Screen Time has finally come to the Mac. iOS users will be familiar with this, but for the uninitiated, it’s a feature located in the System Preferences app that shows the amount of time you have spent on your device. It even shows breakdowns like the time spent on specific apps and specific categories of apps. It gives you greater insights into your usage patterns and you can even set restrictions to help you spend less time playing games for example. Parents can also use Screen Time to control and manage their children’s devices.

 

Accessibility

Here, grids appear on the screen so that voice commands can be used to zoom in on specific sections. (Image source: Apple)

macOS Catalina will ship with the most robust accessibility features of any macOS, making it easier for users with disabilities to use their Macs. Voice Control will enable users who can’t use traditional input devices to control their Macs entirely with voice commands. Furthermore, all audio processing for Voice Control is done on-device which ensures your personal data never leaves your system.

 

Which Macs can upgrade to macOS Catalina?

macOS Catalina will run on a wide range of devices including devices from as far back as 2017. The image above shows all the various Mac systems that will support macOS Catalina.

 

How can I get macOS Catalina?

macOS Catalina is free.

To update to macOS Catalina, simply click on the Apple icon () on the top right of your system. Then click About This Mac, and click Software Update. It's highly recommended that you backup your system before updating.

An important thing to note also is that macOS Catalina will end support for 32-bit apps. So make sure your most-used apps have been updated to 64-bit or have a 64-bit equivalent before updating. Here's how you can check if your favourite apps are running in 64-bit.

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