MacOS X 10.15 Catalina: What you need to know before updating

Apple bring compatibility issues and leave iTunes behind.

Apple Preview macOS Catalina
Image: Apple.com

Apple has released its latest desktop OS X update, 10.15 Catalina. The update is free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes at no cost.

Catalina will completely remove iTunes from OS X after almost 20 years, instead replacing it with Music. This will cause issues for DJs using the ‘Share iTunes Library XML’ function, as Music will take on a new library format. Apps like rekordbox and Traktor can read XML files, making it convenient for DJs to create an iTunes playlist and import it straight into their DJ software. Apple’s advice is to hold off updating and continue using their current OS until developers push out fixes.

This version of OS X will also see the end of support for 32-bit apps, which makes it fairly likely that your current DAW and/or plugins will not be compatible with the software. Native Instruments, Audient and Ableton Live all have 32-bit versions of their software, with NI explicitly stating to hold off while it works on “making software fully compatible”.

Hardware may also be an issue if a driver is required for operation. You will need an updated driver and installer, however audio and MIDI equipment will be unaffected.

In short, the best advice going around at the moment is: do not update to Catalina immediately. Allow some time for music software developers to fix up any issues that may have arisen. If you do update, or already have, make sure you have a full backup so you can easily revert back to your previous system.

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If you want to check how other people are experiencing the update to Catalina, try checking out this Gearslutz thread.

For advice on downgrading, Macworld has a helpful article here.

Find out more about Apple’s Catalina update here.

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