This holiday, gift the magic of having an app for that. Browse gift cards

Best macOS Catalina features: Why you should upgrade

5 min read

Every release of Apple’s operating system is a big hit, changing many things about your Mac. In 2019, traditionally, September is the macOS-changing month of the year. What does it have in store? In this article, we want to tell you about the soul of Apple’s new OS. 

Announced at the 2019 WWDC event, it has been named after the Catalina island. So it’s probably hot. Apart from that, macOS Catalina is the first iTunes-free operating system that is capable of connecting iPads to Macs. But let’s start at the beginning. 

What’s new in macOS Catalina: The killing features

If you run any of the previous macOS, your already own some superpowers. In Catalina, many Mac apps you’re used to appear with the new bells and whistles. The others travel from iOS to make your ecosystem complete. And of course, there are some novelties that will make you crave the upgrade. 

Favorite apps, perfected 

Reminders change its look and functionality in the new macOS 10.15—it’s a brand new, intuitive interface that gets you on track of productivity: 

  • More handy edit buttons
  • Smart lists for organizing reminders across categories
  • Customizable lists and a new way to categorize lists
  • Attachments and messages integration
  • Enhanced voice search power with Siri intelligence. 

If Instagram is your natural habitat or you just enjoy good photography, the updated Photos app will be a huge asset for you. With a focus on your timeline, the app categorizes photos by daily, monthly, and yearly views. So you get a neat, organized collection of memories. 

What’s more, the Photos app in Catalina integrates AI for finding the best pictures and removing duplicates from your gallery. Personalization you’ve never seen before. Except for on Setapp, where you can use grab Gemini, a duplicate finder for Mac. What’s great about Gemini, it not only detects the duplicates, but files with similar composition as well. So you don’t really need the Photos update if you own it. 

Improved search is the defining feature of Notes in macOS 10.15. The app is enriched with an in-built document scanner to search text and can recognize objects in images.  

If you’ve just switched, you’ll also notice Safari changes—from the brand new start page to smart redirects to open tabs. The updates will help you keep the most frequently visited sites close at hand. 

Get Sidecar and use iPad as a second display 

Catalina gives you an extra monitor—easy to enable by connecting your iPad. The feature is called Sidecar and it’s the first arrival of an extended workspace on Mac. If you want to use Sidecar for sharing what you’re working on, you can enable the mirror view. Due to the integration with Sidecar, Catalina users get access to a wide range of compatible apps like Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Photo, Sketch, and more. 

Port iOS apps to macOS

Apart from an extra screen, you also get to enjoy your favorite iPad apps on a large screen. With the arrival of Catalina, developers can embrace a long-awaited app porting feature, which is based on the support of UIKit apps. Developed as Project Catalyst, it allows to put an iOS app on Mac in minutes. So basically, if you’re an iOS dev and your Mac runs on Catalina, you’re kind of a Mac dev too. 

Find your lost Mac, awake or asleep 

Long story short, Find My iPhone and Find My Friends got married and their child lives on macOS 10.15. It’s called Find My, a powerful app for locating your Mac. Based on Bluetooth signal detection, Find My enables nearby devices to find your device if it goes missing. The best part is your Mac doesn’t have to be connected to Wi-Fi to be located. 

Don’t grieve iTunes, you lose nothing 

You’ve got it right, iTunes is a thing of the past. But nothing that was previously on iTunes actually disappears from your Mac. Instead of one media library, you get a dedicated music app, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. What’s more, there will still be iTunes Store which you can access to purchase music. So it’s not dead. Just lives a different life now. 

Screen Time for smart Mac consumption 

Launched on iOS last year, Screen Time is coming to macOS with Catalina release. The app allows to create custom usage reports and set Downtime to see how you spend time on Mac. Perfect for parental control. And personal use, let’s be honest here. You can view the usage data by apps and set dedicated app or communication limits, so that your Mac flow is fully controlled. 

Secure and accessible macOS

We haven’t asked Apple, but it looks like these guys invested a lot into making Catalina hyper secure and accessible: 

  • No messing with your data. If your Mac runs on Catalina, you can be sure no app will get access to your files or iCloud unless you allow it. Neither will it be able to capture or record your screen. 
  • Read-only system volume. Catalina runs on a dedicated volume, separately from your files. So it’s 100% transparent where your information is stored—never intersecting with macOS data. 
  • Mr. Chief Guard, Gatekeeper. Before installing an app from the App Store or a website, Gatekeeper will verify its security first. 
  • Lowered risk of macOS damage. DriverKit and user space system extensions now run separately from Catalina, which means macOS won’t be affected if they malfunction. 
  • You own the key. If your Mac has Apple T2 Security Chip, you can now make use of Activation Lock—just as on iOS devices. This means you’re the only person who can unlock or erase your Mac data, shall the device ever get lost (which we hope it won’t thanks to Find My app). 
  • Voice control: You can control 100% of the macOS 10.15 features using your voice only. Accurate dictation, advanced audio processing, and switching between commands—it’s zero fuss, endless accessibility. 

Your path to Catalina upgrade

The beta version of macOS Catalina is available starting June 2019. So if you don’t want to wait until fall, test all the beautiful features beforehand. Note though, that beta versions are usually buggy, so perfectionists would better go with the official upgrade. 

Here are three ways to get your hands on Catalina: 

  1. Download a beta from the Developer’s account to replace Mojave (or any other macOS you use). 
  2. Install Catalina beta on a partition and run it alongside your current macOS. 
  3. Upgrade from the App Store updates section once Catalina is out. 

One way or another, make sure your Mac is ready for the new functionality. A detailed guide is here:  How to prepare your Mac for macOS Catalina. 

Hope you enjoy your ride into the heat! 

240+ apps for $9.99
per month

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.