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macOS Catalina – latest version of macOS now available

Apple’s yearly software update for the Mac is now live, meaning anyone who owns a MacBook, iMac, or any other type of Macintosh computer can take advantage of new features for free.

The latest operating system is called macOS Catalina, following on from last year’s Mojave release, and packs in a bunch of new features. You can find the full list of changes on Apple’s website, but we’re mostly concerned with the stuff that’s relevant to iPhone and iPad users.

So, here’s our take on the three most notable additions to macOS.

Goodbye iTunes

Perhaps the biggest change in Catalina is that Apple’s famous iTunes app is no more. Instead, it has been broken up into three distinct apps for Music, TV, and Podcasts. Not only does this simplify navigation, but it better replicates the apps we’re all familiar with from iOS, and will sync up with your mobile devices nicely.

(If you’re used to manually connecting your iPhone or iPad to iTunes for backups or syncing files, you can now do that from a new Locations section in Finder.)

Hello Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade has been live for a few weeks now for iPhone and iPad users, offering dozens of premium games under a single $5/month subscription.

Now that service comes to the Mac, too, so you can make the most of this amazing games library no matter which device you favor. Xbox and PS4 controllers are compatible with Catalina, too, making the Mac feel like a proper gaming system.

Introducing Sidecar

This is an exciting one if you own both a Mac computer and an iPad tablet. Update both to the latest software and you can take advantage of a new feature called Sidecar that joins the two devices together.

That means you can use an iPad as a secondary display for your computer, or mirror what’s on your iPad to the display on your Mac. You can also combine an iPad and Apple Pencil to create a wireless graphics tablet for your Mac.

We’ll have a full tutorial soon, but if you can’t wait you can find Sidecar under System Preferences in Catalina.

How to update

Generally speaking, models from 2012 and beyond are compatible with macOS Catalina, so you should be able to update if your computer is less than seven years old. However, note that some features such as Sidecar only work on relatively new models.

You’ll need just over 8 GB of storage space free to download the update. To install it, simply open the App Store on your Mac and search for macOS Catalina.

It may take a long time to download the update, and the installation itself isn’t quick either – so don’t set it going unless you’re happy to take a break from the computer for a while.

And though these updates are usually pretty seamless, if you have important documents on your Mac it’s always worth backing them up somewhere before taking the plunge, just in case something goes wrong.