Shall I Upgrade To Catalina

Can i upgrade to catalina from el capitan

November 2020 marked the launch of macOS Big Sur. The arrival of a new version of macOS is always exciting. The new features and improvements can almost make it seem like you’re running a brand new Mac. However, there can also be problems and every new release is accompanied by stories of Macs running into problems and crashing. With that in mind, is it safe to upgrade to macOS Big Sur?

Should i upgrade to catalina from high sierra

Important Information about macOS 10.15 (Catalina) Apple has been busy working on the next version of the desktop operating system, macOS 10.15, also known as “Catalina.”. While there have been several delays, Apple has said they expect it to be released this month (October 2019). While there are several new features and changes, one change.

One thing you should take into consideration before you decide to upgrade to Big Sur is whether you have enough disk space. You should allow at least 32GB to upgrade, but that’s a bare minimum and doesn’t take account of the new apps you’ll no doubt want to download once you’ve upgraded. If you’re short of disk space, you should check out the latest CleanMyMac X app by MacPaw. It has an interactive junk detector, that will recover a few GBs for your needs. This app is notarized by Apple, by the way (here’s a link to a free version — give it a check)

How bad is Catalina? It's almost Apple Maps bad: MacOS 10.15 pushes Cupertino's low bar for code quality lower still. Amid Apple's attempt to fend off criticism for its removal, restoration, and re-removal of an app used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the company is also facing particularly voluble criticism from users of its latest desktop operating system, macOS Catalina. Should I Upgrade To Catalina From Mojave; Shall I Upgrade To Catalina Islands; Apple iMac 27-inch (2020): Price and availability. The Apple iMac 27-inch (2020) starts at $1,799, and includes 3.1GHz 6-core 10th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, an AMD Radeon Pro 5300 with.

Should I update to macOS Big Sur?


Before asking that question, you should ask if you can upgrade to macOS Big Sur. If you’re upgrading from Catalina, the answer is probably yes as there are very few Macs that can run Catalina but not Big Sur. However, if you’re running an older version, you may be out of luck. The full list of Macs that will run Big Sur is:

  • Any Mac Pro or iMac Pro
  • MacBook Pro and MacBook Air 2013 and later
  • iMac and Mac mini 2014 and later
  • MacBook 2015 and later

If your Mac is on that list, you can safely install Big Sur.

However, your Mac’s specification is the only thing you need to check for compatibility. You should also make sure the apps you use regularly, and especially those you rely on, will run on Big Sur.

32-bit apps

If you skipped macOS Catalina and want to update from the earlier version, there’s an important thing to note. macOS Big Sur doesn’t support 32-bit apps, for example, many Steam games will be left out. So you are faced with a choice:

Shall I Upgrade To Catalina
  • Search for 64-bit versions of your apps (if they are available)
  • Keep using your current macOS

How do I find my 32-bit apps?

Go to the Apple menu > About this Mac > System Report
Under Software, choose Applications.

There you’ll find a column titled “64-bit.” Now, look for “No” entries in the column. These are your 32-bit applications.

Can I Upgrade To Catalina Instead Of Big Sur

Shall I Upgrade To Catalina


Some users encountered continuous “kernel panics” on Big Sur. This is reportedly solved by a fresh installation that is performed on the erased hard-drive. Or you can go back to macOS Catalina and wait for the updated Big Sur version to be released.

If your Mac hangs up too often, read how to lessen the load on your processor.


If you have decided you are going to upgrade to Big Sur, the next question is when. As with any new version of macOS, it’s safest to wait a few weeks after release until any issues have been fixed.

Hear the difference: Sound design

This is rarely mentioned but macOS Big Sur has received a serious sound overhaul. All these familiar alert bleeps we’ve heard on macOS Catalina have been replaced with much more intriguing voices.

Do you really need all the new features?

It’s always tempting to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of macOS. However, it’s not all upside. New versions of operating systems can be buggy, they can slow down your Mac, and there are always compatibility issues with some apps.

macOS 11 Big Sur will be the first OS to support Apple’s ARM silicon, instead of traditional Intel-based chips. And thanks to this, we’ll soon see iOS apps running natively on Macs.

Two reasons to upgrade your Mac to Big Sur (if you run Catalina)

  1. macOS design is consistent with iOS platform
  2. You want a Mac with Apple silicon that will in future support iOS apps on Mac.

How should you upgrade? And what are the first steps?

There are two ways to upgrade to Big Sur, or any other operating system.

  1. Install Big Sur over the top of your current operating system.
  2. Perform a clean install.

Each has its pros and cons. A clean install will ensure that you don’t carry over any leftover files that may cause compatibility issues with the new operating system. It will also resolve any problems you might already be having with your Mac because of ‘junk’ files left by apps or by the system. However, it means wiping your Mac’s boot drive completely, so you will need to spend time reinstalling apps, copying files from a backup, and configuring settings. Standard installation is much quicker and easier, but risks more compatibility issues because of files already on your Mac.

  • The standard upgrade is done through the App Store
  • For clean install, you’ll need Disk Utility, an external USB drive, and Time Machine.

Zen option: Wipe away all the junk first

If you like the idea of a clean install but don’t want to have to go through the process of reinstalling apps and configuring settings, there is a third option: Just do a quick cleanup beforehand.

  • Broken downloads
  • Application cache
  • Unused localizations
  • Browser cookies

All these files clutter your system and will one day compromise the performance of your macOS Big Sur. If you like, you can embark on a manual cleaning mission. But how do you find all the junk? Here’s the trick I’m using — which is the free version of CleanMyMac X.
If you install it and run the System Junk tool, it will magically show you what you can delete.

Download this app here — this version is notarized by Apple. It also gets rid of broken items that may cause your Mac to behave erratically.

Is Big Sur safe? Yes. However, deciding whether to upgrade to Big Sur may seem straightforward. After all, it’s free and easy to do. However, you should think carefully before you decide if and when to upgrade. In addition to checking whether your Mac is compatible, you should make sure you have enough free disk space to install it. If you’re currently running an earlier version of macOS than Catalina, you should also make sure you don’t rely on 32-bit apps. When you do upgrade, make sure you backup your Mac first. And remember, you can use CleanMyMac X to help free up space and optimize your Mac before you upgrade.

[ Update: On March 21, 2021, I finally upgraded to Big Sur. Here’s what I learned in the process. ]

That’s a good question – but it’s also the wrong question. It is better to ask: “When should I upgrade to Big Sur?”

That answer is trickier.


The two most important things to keep in mind when deciding when to upgrade to ANY operating system is that there are no “hidden” new features in any Apple or Adobe application that suddenly get turned on when you upgrade.

In other words, everything your NLE does in Catalina, it will do in Big Sur. So you aren’t missing any features by waiting to upgrade.

Second, never upgrade in the middle of a project. Facing a deadline is a terrible time for a significant upgrade. Something always goes wrong, which takes time to fix. Wait until you complete a project – or have time to chase problems – before upgrading.

If you are lucky, everything will work perfectly. And, if not, you’ll have time to figure out what broke and get it fixed.


First, like Catalina, Big Sur is a 64-bit operating system. Any apps that didn’t work in Catalina won’t work in Big Sur. This includes older 32-bit media. (Link)

If you haven’t upgraded to Catalina, here’s how to find out which apps on your system are 32-bit:

  • Go to Apple menu > About this Mac
  • Click on System Report
  • Click on Software >Applications
  • In the 64-bit (Intel) column, any apps displaying No won’t work in Big Sur

NOTE: This column does not appear in Catalina, because all apps in Catalina must be 64-bit.

9to5 Mac writes: “macOS 11 Big Sur has been widely seen as the least stable of the major new Apple software releases this year during the beta period from June until this fall.”

NOTE: Here’s a link to 9to5’s comprehensive look at upgrading to Big Sur.

Aaron, in the comments, highlights “This website is more comprehensive and notes which apps work natively on Apple Silicon M1 and which work (or don’t work) using Rosetta 2.” I like the layout of this website – there are more than 700 applications listed.

As well, has compiled a crowd-sourced list (Link) of app compatibility. There are many other compatibility resources on the web. If you rely on 3rd-party software for your daily work, be sure to check out what works and what doesn’t. Be careful to type the name of your application carefully – this list is poorly curated.

Should i upgrade to catalina from high sierra

As well, most audio applications have problems with Big Sur. has also compiled a list focused on audio apps. (Link)


While Big Sur will run on most Macs manufactured from 2015 on, Big Sur is required for all M1 Macs; that is, those running Apple silicon CPUs.

NOTE: Here are Apple specs for supported hardware for Big Sur.

My general feeling is that if you have older hardware, don’t upgrade. Older gear is designed to run on older versions of macOS. You’ll probably get better performance by not upgrading. Also keep in mind that if you upgrade and decide you don’t like the new version on your older system, falling back to an earlier version of the macOS is a major pain.

If you have reasonably current hardware, upgrading makes a lot of sense – it simply becomes a question of “when.”

NOTE: Here are Apple’s instructions on how to upgrade to Big Sur.


I am a fan of waiting. Clients want us to get their work done – on time and on budget. Reliability is more important that bleeding edge. If you have a system you can spare for testing, upgrade that now. See what works and what doesn’t. However, don’t feel under pressure to immediately rush to upgrade production systems.

That being said, I also want to stay reasonably current because developers are creating new software for the new OS, not upgrading older versions. At some point, the latest versions of software won’t support older operating systems. (Final Cut Pro 7 is a classic example of this. It is a 32-bit application. It will never run on current versions of the macOS.)


So, should you upgrade? Yes.

Shall I Upgrade To Catalina Mac

When should you upgrade?

  • After you verify that the software you need is compatible with Big Sur
  • When you have time to chase potential problems after any demanding projects are complete
  • When Apple has released several bug fix updates to Big Sur

Last week, Apple released the 11.1 maintenance update to Big Sur, with a beta release of 11.2 to developers for testing. These maintenance upgrades are significant and needed.

For myself, I plan to upgrade my main production system after the first of the year, when the 11.2 update is released. And I’m keeping two older computers on older versions of the macOS – just in case.

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