Need to clear up some disk space or get rid of some old iPhone or iPad backups on a Mac? With the latest versions of MacOS, managing iOS and iPadOS device backups is done entirely in Finder, including deleting and removing device backups.
Arguably the safest and most thorough way of backing up an iPhone or iPad is to do an encrypted backup via Mac Finder. When the backup is complete you’ll have a copy of all of your data on your computer, complete with encrypted keychain contents. But it all takes up space that you might want to reclaim. As you can imagine, doing a full backup of your iPhone or iPad can take a lot of space. That’s fine if you’re lucky enough to be using a Mac with a multi-terabyte SSD. But most of us aren’t, so we need a way to trip the amount of data used by backups. We need to delete old ones. And in macOS Catalina, that’s a whole new process compared to deleting backups with iTunes. As you’ll see, removing backups this way is similar, but since iTunes is no more in modern macOS versions, it’s obviously a bit different and using a different process.
Here’s how to go about deleting old iPhone or iPad backups in macOS Catalina.
How to Delete iOS & iPadOS Device Backups from MacOS Finder in Catalina
This assumes you have made a backup of iPhone or iPad to macOS before, if not there will not be any backup to remove.
Plug your iPhone or iPad into your Mac using a USB cable.
Open a Finder window by clicking its icon in the Dock and click your iPhone or iPad in the sidebar.
Make sure that the “General” tab is selected and then click “Manage Backups.” You’ll find it at the very bottom of the window.
Click to select the backup that you want to delete and then click “Delete Backup.”
You’ll need to confirm that you want to delete the selected backup before the action is carried out.
The selected backups will be deleted.
Depending on the size of the device backups you removed, you can possibly get a ton more space on your Mac drive, whether it’s a hard disk or SSD, just by removing backups this way. This is particularly nice to do with old device backups that are no longer needed.
Of course you don’t want to delete the only copy of a device backup you have, so be sure you have a backup of the iPhone or iPad somewhere before deleting one from the Mac.
As a bonus, you’ll still have these backups safe and sound if you’re using Time Machine, assuming you use that feature to backup the entire Mac anyway. You can then go about restoring the backup if you still need it, depending on how much time has passed and how long Time Machine keeps files around. Another handy trick for redundant backups is to manually copy a copy of the backed up devices to other external storage mediums, like an SD card, USB flash drive, or external hard drive, which you can then refer to if needed.
Using a Mac is just one way of backing up your iPhone or iPad. You can also use a Windows PC with iTunes if you want to. If you’d rather not have to plug them into a computer at all, you can use iCloud for backups instead as well. With iCloud, your device will back itself up overnight and you won’t need to connect to a computer to restore anything, either. And just like the Mac and iTunes approaches, you can also delete backups from iCloud too.
Finder in MacOS handles all device management now that iTunes used to, and that includes not only device backups but also syncing music to iPhone or iPad in MacOS with the Finder too, along with other device management options. Basically all that used to be device management in iTunes is now in Finder.
Apple completely changed the way that we sync data to our iPhones and iPads with the arrival of macOS 10.15 Catalina and later versions of MacOS. The removal of iTunes is something that has been a long time coming, but now that it’s here a ton of people are left wondering – just how do I sync music from Mac to my iPhone or iPad now?
The short answer is that you use the macOS Finder, just as you would if you were moving files to an external SSD or memory stick, and much like when backing up iPhone or iPad to Mac Finder.
But things do differ slightly with iPhone and iPad because you get a refreshed version of the old iTunes interface thrown in, too. Confused? You needn’t be.
Here we’re going to run through the steps that need to be taken to sync your music with an iPhone or iPad when using macOS Catalina.
How to Sync Music from iPhone to MacOS with Finder
First, make sure that your device is connected to your computer via a USB cable. You aren’t going to get very far if it isn’t.
Click on the Finder icon in your Mac’s Dock to open a new window.
Select your iPhone or iPad in the sidebar.
Make sure that the tab named “Music” is selected over in the main window.
Make sure that the “Sync Music onto your device” is checked. If it isn’t, check it.
You can now decide whether you want to sync your entire music library, or just selected albums, playlists, artists, or genres. If you choose to sync your entire library, you’re done. Click “Apply” followed by “Sync” and wait for everything to finish. If you chose to selectively sync your music, continue with this guide.
Now you can select which playlists, artists, albums, and genres you want to sync. Make all of your selections and then click “Apply” followed by “Sync.”
The initial syncing process might take some time depending on the amount of data that needs to be transferred.
Don’t disconnect your iPhone (or iPad) device until Finder tells you that syncing has finished. When it’s done, you will have synced music to the iPhone from the Mac.
This obviously applies to the latest and most modern macOS versions from Catalina 10.15 onward. If you’re using a Mac with an older version of macOS installed, you can still use iTunes as always.
If you’re going to attempt to install MacOS Catalina on an unsupported Mac, do so at your own risk.
Then you may be interested in a third party tool that allows advanced uses to patch the MacOS Catalina installer so that it works on otherwise unsupported Macs.
Whether or not you should install MacOS Catalina onto an unsupported Mac is another question entirely, as performance may not be up to par, and some things may not work as expected (or at all, since features like Sidecar are compatible with specific Macs only), but if you’re an advanced user who is interested in running macOS 10.15 on unsupported hardware this patcher utility makes it easy to do so.
If this sounds interesting to you, check out the link below to learn more about the DosDude Catalina Patcher utility, and you can view a video tutorial further below showing how it works.
If you’re going to attempt to run this patcher and install MacOS Catalina on an unsupported Mac, be sure you have full complete backups of the computer and understand that running unsupported system software on an unsupported Mac has obvious risks.
DosDude has been tweaking with the MacOS system installers for a while, and you may recall a past article discussing running macOS Mojave on unsupported Macs too using a similar patch.
Which Unsupported Macs Can Install MacOS Catalina with the DosDude Tool?
According to DosDude, the MacOS Catalina Patcher will work to install MacOS Catalina on the following list of otherwise unsupported Macs:
Early-2008 or newer Mac Pro, iMac, or MacBook Pro:
iMac11,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
iMac12,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
Late-2008 or newer MacBook Air or Aluminum Unibody MacBook:
Early-2009 or newer Mac Mini or white MacBook:
Macmini5,x (systems with AMD Radeon HD 6xxx series GPUs will be almost unusable when running Catalina.)
Early-2008 or newer Xserve:
As you can see, that list is significantly broader than what is on the list of MacOS Catalina compatible Macs.
It goes without saying that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and some Macs may not perform well, and not all features may work as expected if trying to run MacOS Catalina on unsupported hardware. This is very much a third party tweak, and is of course not supported by Apple in any way.
The video below demonstrates a tutorial walking through the process of using the DosDude Catalina patcher tool to install the macOS 10.15 system software on an unsupported Mac.
Want to stop MacOS Catalina showing up in Software Updates on a Mac? Don’t plan on updating to MacOS Catalina anytime soon? Still up in the air about whether or not to update to MacOS Catalina 10.15?
If you don’t want the “MacOS Catalina” update to show as available to download in the Software Update section of macOS, you can use a terminal command to block and hide the software update from showing as available. This can be helpful if you’re avoiding installing MacOS Catalina for whatever, whether to avoid potential problems, or if you just don’t want to deal with updating to it anytime soon.
How to Stop MacOS Catalina Showing in Software Update on Mac
Quit out of System Preferences
Launch the Terminal application on the Mac, found in /Applications/Utilities/ folder
Enter the following command at the Terminal command line:
sudo softwareupdate --ignore "macOS Catalina"
Hit return then enter the admin password * and hit return again to execute the command with super user privileges
Re-open System Preferences, the “MacOS Catalina” update will no longer show as available
Now MacOS Catalina update will remain hidden from Software Update on the Mac until this setting has been changed, which we’ll discuss further below.
With MacOS Catalina no longer taking up the primary “Software Update” screen, you’ll continue to be informed of incoming software updates for Security Updates, Safari Updates, iTunes updates, and any other software releases for the currently running MacOS version.
If you have ignored the MacOS Catalina upgrade you can also continue to selectively install specific software updates via Mac Software Update.
Any future software updates that are not Catalina will continue to be available, or install automatically if you have that feature enabled.
Note you may wish to download MacOS Catalina installer before ignoring the software update, for convenience, if you plan on installing it down the road, or onto another computer, or making a USB boot drive, or whatever else. Of course you can also make the upgrade show as available in Software Update again if you’d like to, as we’ll cover next.
How to Make MacOS Catalina Upgrade Available in Software Update Again
To unhide MacOS Catalina and make the MacOS 10.15 update available again, you can do one of two things. One is to start the process of downloading MacOS Catalina from the Mac App Store, but since we used the command line to ignore the update the best approach is to return to the Terminal.
To make MacOS Catalina upgrade show up in Software Update again, return to the command line and clear and reset the ignored software updates list with the following command line syntax:
sudo softwareupdate --reset-ignored
Again authenticate with the admin password and hit return.
Relaunching System Preferences and returning to Software Update will make MacOS Catalina show as available again, just like any other system software update in modern MacOS versions like Mojave (or Catalina).
Some Mac users have reported a variety of problems with MacOS Catalina, ranging from installations getting stuck or taking abnormally long, to problems with some apps not working, to issues with certain printers or accessories no longer working, App Store difficulties, iCloud and Apple ID issues, amongst other nuisances.
While installing and using MacOS Catalina goes fine for most users, that is no solace if you are experiencing problems with a particular Mac and the new MacOS 10.15 release. Below we will discuss a variety of reported issues and problems with MacOS Catalina, and offer various troubleshooting methods to attempt to resolve those difficulties.
Before perusing this guide or attempting any troubleshooting method, be sure to back up your Mac and all data first. Failure to backup data can result in permanent data loss.
MacOS Catalina Won’t Download or Shows “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg”
If you are attempting to download MacOS Catalina and it fails with a “An error occurred while running scripts from the package “RecoveryHDMetaDmg.pkg” error message, it may be related to third party firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware software running on the Mac.
Temporarily disable the third party software that is a firewall, anti-virus, or anti-malware protection, and then relaunch System Preferences to check for the download again and MacOS Catalina should arrive as expected.
Note that some Macs may need to be restarted after third party protection software is disabled, depending on the software and how it works. In that case, after rebooting the Mac return to System Preferences in the Software Update section to download MacOS Catalina as expected.
MacOS Catalina won’t install because “There is not enough free space on Macintosh HD to install”
If you do not have sufficient free disk space available on the Mac hard drive, you will not be able to install MacOS Catalina.
Aim to have at least 15GB freely available to complete the installation of MacOS Catalina.
MacOS Catalina Installation Stalls on “Estimating time remaining…”
A fair number of people have reported that MacOS Catalina installation takes longer to install than they were expecting, or longer to install than prior MacOS installations. A common symptom of this is the Mac is apparently stuck on “Estimating time remaining…” when trying to install MacOS Catalina.
If you see the “Estimating time remaining…” screen when trying to install MacOS Catalina, be patient. It’s unlikely the installer is actually stuck, so just let it sit, and if it’s a MacBook Pro or Air make sure it is connected to a power source.
Let the Mac sit for however long it takes to complete the installation of Catalina, it may take several hours. The Mac will automatically boot into MacOS Catalina when finished installing.
There are mixed reports that the MacOS Catalina installation has taken anywhere from 45 minutes to over 12 hours to complete, how long it takes on a particular machine likely depends on many factors, including computer speed, internet connection speed, the Mac OS version being updated from, and more, thus it’s best to initiate the installation when there is plenty of time available to allow the Mac to complete installation.
MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck on “Less than one minute remaining”
Some users report that installing MacOS Catalina gets stuck on a black screen with an Apple logo and progress bar, stating there is less than a minute remaining to complete the installation.
If you see this screen, let the Mac sit and wait for a substantial amount of time before attempting to intervene.
If the Mac is still stuck on “Less than one minute remaining” after many hours (let it sit overnight if you can), and you have a full backup of your data, try powering down the Mac and then turning it back on again. It may boot directly into the MacOS Catalina setup screen. It also may fail to boot entirely, in which case you’ll need to reinstall MacOS system software with Internet Recovery (you can also try to reinstall MacOS Mojave through regular recovery too), or restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup.
MacOS Catalina Installation Stuck or Fails with “The operation couldn’t be completed. (PKDownloadError error 8.)”
This error has been reported to occur during installation of MacOS Catalina if the internet connection is disrupted or disconnected.
Insure that the Mac has an active wi-fi or ethernet connection and that the internet works as expected, and then try installing MacOS Catalina again.
MacOS Catalina Stuck on “Setting Up Your Mac” Screen After Install
Let it sit for at least several hours, it may resolve itself.
If a after hours pass, force reboot the Mac by turning the computer off, then turning it back on again
Mac Running MacOS Catalina Randomly Crashes & Restarts
Some Mac users are reporting their Mac is crashing and restarting itself, particular when the Mac is left unattended for a period of time.
This random crash/freezing/restarting issue appears to happen more often on newer Macs with T2 security chips, or with Macs with a Radeon Pro Vega GPU, but it has been reported on other Mac models as well.
There are various discussion threads on Apple Support Forums here about this, but there is not yet any clear explanation or solution to this problem.
Reinstalling MacOS Catalina may help.
If any updates come available to MacOS Catalina, be sure to install those right way (ie: MacOS Catalina 10.15.1, 10.15.2, etc), as they may resolve the problem.
Downgrading to MacOS Mojave may also be a workaround to some users, though that is obviously not desirable or practical for many users.
Frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” Requests
Some users have reported a frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” pop-up message, informing them that some services will not be available until they sign-in again. Then after signing in again, the popup returns.
If you encounter frequent “Update Apple ID Settings” alerts, first try restarting the Mac.
If the “Update Apple ID Settings” alert message continues still, back up the Mac (if you haven’t done so already), then go to System Preferences and logging out of the Apple ID, rebooting the Mac, then logging back in again.
Be aware that signing out of an Apple ID may cause issues with synced data over iCloud, including iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, iCloud Photos, and other iCloud syncing.
Persistent iCloud Password Requests
Some users have reported issues with persistent Apple ID and iCloud password requests.
Open System Preferences > go to iCloud settings > and login to iCloud directly.
You may also need to log out and then log back into iCloud via System Preferences, but be aware that doing so can cause issues with iCloud Documents, iCloud Files, and other iCloud syncing.
Some Mac Apps Don’t Work, “App Needs to be Updated” Error Message
Any 32-bit app that has not been updated to 64-bit will not work in MacOS Catalina.
When attempting to launch an app that does not work in MacOS Catalina, you will see an error message stating “(Name) needs to be updated”
This includes many older versions of popular apps like Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc), Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and many smaller third party tools and utilities.
Additionally, many popular older Mac games are 32-bit and thus will not work on MacOS Catalina (unless they are updated for 64-bit support, which some developers have already stated will not happen with older software).
The only solution to this is to update the apps to 64-bit versions, or to find alternative applications. Or, more extreme, would be to downgrade from MacOS Catalina, but that’s a sizable hassle.
Printers, Scanners, Accessories Incompatible or Don’t Work with MacOS Catalina
Some users have found that printers, scanners, and other hardware accessories are no longer working after updating to MacOS Catalina.
This may be related to the loss of 32-bit application support, as some older printers and drivers are not updated to 64-bit.
Numerous reports exist of various Brother, Epson, HP, and other printers and accessories are incompatible with MacOS Catalina currently.
A good first step would be to reach out to the manufacturer of the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory and see if new drivers or related software are available with MacOS Catalina compatibility.
If new Catalina compatible drivers are available, install them to regain access to the printer, scanner, or hardware accessory.
Loss of iTunes Causing Issues with Music Playlists
Some users have reported that music playlists created from iTunes are not being imported or included in the new Music app of MacOS Catalina.
This may be a bug, or it could be an issue with the Music app not finding the playlist files from iTunes.
Some users have reported that simply quitting Music app and restarting the Mac has allowed their old iTunes playlists to surface in Music app as expected.
iTunes Removal Causing Issues with XML File Support & Third Party Music Apps
Some users of various music apps have reported that MacOS Catalina does not work with various music production and DJ apps.
This is apparently due to an issue with XML file support being removed from the new Music app.
If you rely on an application which requires iTunes or iTunes XML file support, consider avoiding MacOS Catalina for the time being, or until the apps you rely on are updated to support MacOS Catalina.
You can read more about this specific issue at The Verge if interested.
Mac App Store Showing “No Purchases”
Some Mac users are discovering that MacOS Catalina is not showing their purchased app history.
Sometimes simply rebooting the Mac can resolve this problem.
Otherwise, try logging out of the Mac App Store, quitting the App Store application, relaunching the App Store, then logging back into the Mac App Store again, to regain access to purchases.
Mac App Store Showing “No Updates”
Some users have reported that the Mac App Store is erroneously showing a “No Updates” available message, despite having older versions of apps like iMovie installed that are not working without an update for full 64-bit compatibility.
Quitting the Mac App Store, then rebooting the Mac and relaunching the Mac App Store appears to resolve this problem.
Mac is Hot and Running Slow After Installing MacOS Catalina
This is likely due to the system reindexing files on the drive, and the system toll it takes to perform maintenance tasks that are necessary after reinstalling or updating MacOS system software.
Let this process complete, it may take a while, but the Mac should perform as expected when that background activity has finished.
Safari Can’t Connect to Websites, But Internet Works
Some third party firewall software and anti-virus apps may be causing issues with Safari and other apps accessing websites and the internet in general.
Try disabling those third party firewall and virus tools, then rebooting the Mac to see if the issue is resolved.
Additional MacOS Catalina Troubleshooting Ideas
Depending on the issue, you may want to try a few additional troubleshooting steps like:
Try re-installing MacOS Catalina by rebooting the Mac and holding down Command+R and choosing to “Reinstall MacOS” – this will reinstall the core operating system without changing user files. Be sure to have a full backup fo your Mac before attempting this.
Try resetting SMC
Reset the PRAM on the Mac
MacOS Catalina is Unusable for Me, Help!
If you find MacOS Catalina totally unusable for whatever reason, you have a few options:
Restore the Mac from a previously made Time Machine backup, which is perhaps the easiest and best method of reverting from MacOS Catalina
Reinstalling MacOS via Internet Recovery, which will attempt to reinstall the version of MacOS that came with the Mac
Erase the Mac and restore from Time Machine or a prior backup method to effectively downgrade from MacOS Catalina to the prior version of MacOS you had backed up
Contact official Apple Support for further assistance – Apple support techs and engineers may be able to resolve a problem for you that unaffiliated third party fan sites like this are not able to address
Are all of these problems common?
No, these are not commonly encountered issues with MacOS Catalina.
Perhaps the most common issue that may be experienced by users with MacOS Catalina is that some older apps will not work, because of the loss of 32-bit app support. The other issues discussed here are fairly rare.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to install MacOS Catalina then don’t assume you will experience any of the issues or problems discussed here. This is intended as a troubleshooting guide for problems that a small number of users are encountering, and by no means is representative of the wider MacOS Catalina user base or experience. You can use this guide to get ready and prepare for MacOS Catalina and download MacOS Catalina as soon as you’re ready for the software update. Or you can skip it for the time being, that’s OK too!