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macOS 10.15 Catalina

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I was meaning to ask about this. I currently have a 2011 Mac Mini with a large internal SSD. I have defined several users. It is running macOS Sierra.

I will eventually have to move on, so I will have to use Mojave or Catalina. As mentioned in the article, installing a large internal drive (4TB or more) is expensive and, in my case, may not be feasible; I live in Chile, and Macs only come with standard drives. Thus, I have to consider external storage.

I understand that the internal drive must hold the OS and applications. How about user home directories? Can these be defined on the external drives? Alternatively, if home directories are defined in the internal drive, user files have to be stored and accessed externally.

I should mention that an important part of my work involves using virtual machines, which take a fair amount of space. What would be the recommended way to deal with this if I get a desktop Mac?

Thanks!
 


I understand that the internal drive must hold the OS and applications. How about user home directories? Can these be defined on the external drives? Alternatively, if home directories are defined in the internal drive, user files have to be stored and accessed externally.
Depending on your hardware and system configuration, you may not have to install the OS in the internal drive. As I understand it (others here have run more extensive tests), Macs with a T2 SSD controller require you to configure Secure Boot to allow booting from external drives, but once you make that change, you shouldn't have a problem.

Home directories don't have to be on the boot volume, and this was never the case. You can use the Advanced Options of the "Users & Groups" preference panel to change a user's home directory. Just make sure the user is not logged in when you make the change. And make sure the volume is mounted before that user logs in.

The easiest way to set this up is before you migrate a user from another computer. Manually create the user, specifying the location of the home directory. Then manually copy the contents of the home directory (I don't know if Migration Assistant will respect your configuration).

Alternatively, you can move a home directory after migration, if there is enough internal storage to temporarily hold the contents:
  1. Make sure the user is not logged in
  2. Log in to a different account, which has administrative privileges
  3. Move the user's home directory to the new location
  4. Use the Users & Groups Advanced Options preference page to change the user's home directory to the new location
 


... I should mention that an important part of my work involves using virtual machines, which take a fair amount of space. What would be the recommended way to deal with this if I get a desktop Mac?
I have virtualized many different versions of Windows, OS X, and macOS over the years since Parallels version 3 with quite satisfactory results on both notebook and desktop Macs. Parallels Desktop for Mac allows the VM bundle to be stored wherever space and permissions allow. This includes external volumes, which may be APFS or HFS+, because the boot volume in each VM is a virtual volume formatted by whatever OS installer is used. For less demanding applications, rotating hard drives can be satisfactory. Using SSDs for VM storage can improve performance up to the limits imposed by external drive connections.

I have not used any other VM other than Parallels Desktop for Mac since abandoning the Microsoft VM for Mac years ago. Perhaps someone else can comment on other products.
 


I have not used any other VM other than Parallels Desktop for Mac since abandoning the Microsoft VM for Mac years ago. Perhaps someone else can comment on other products.
I totally agree with what James said. A while back, I purchased a Fledging Thunderbolt 3 m.2 enclosure and a Sabrent 2TB SSD [Amazon] to store bootable backups and Parallels VMs on. I couldn't be happier with the results. This frees up your system drive as well as being portable.

You should research other vendors, since it's been a while and there may be better or cheaper options since I bought those. Also worth noting, the SSD is plugged into the second Thunderbolt 3 port of an Akitio Thunderbolt 3 4-bay hard drive enclosure for both data and power with zero issues – all connected via one port on my iMac. Lots of knowledgeable people will recommend USB 3, but I feel the extra cost for Thunderbolt 3 is more than worth it.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch


Thanks a lot to all for your input! I will configure an external boot drive. I will not migrate and will configure it from scratch. One last question. What Mac do you recommend I get? Available local options are a 2018 Mini and a Mac Pro 6.1 (trash can). I prefer not to get an iMac (used or new), but I might consider it if it is a good option.
 


Almost daily, usually in the morning when I get on the computer, I am unable to open any file or program. I get a message (without an error code) to the effect that the file/program cannot be opened (not a direct quote). This affects all programs and files. I can still get into folders both on internal and external disks, but no program or file will open....
Hopefully this will be the final update in my Catalina saga. Neither a simple re-install of Catalina nor using Sam Herschbein's suggestions in TinkerTool and OnyX helped in preventing the daily loss of Finder abilities.

So I bit the bullet and did a complete erase/install of Catalina using the great tips on The Eclectic Light Company's site How clean re-installs change in Catalina.
It worked perfectly to delete the Mac HD-Data volume and erase the Mac HD system volume.

So far, so good, after a longish app reinstallation process. Lost all my album art once again, but, oh well. Thanks for everyone's help.
 


From AccountEdge (which used to be M.Y.O.B.):
AccountEdge said:
AccountEdge for Mac Options
We are disappointed to share that we will not be able to offer a Catalina-compliant version of AccountEdge - now or in the future. In the end, AccountEdge’s 30-year-old codebase proved too outdated to establish compatibility with Apple’s newest operating system. In spite of a multi-year project that involved a team of developers and analysts, it’s a project we will not be able to complete.
Here are your options:
  • Don't upgrade to Catalina
  • Run a 32-bit compatible Mac OS release in a [virtual machine environment]
  • Switch to a Windows license (and run it native or in an [virtual machine environment])
  • Use a hosted subscription service ($40/month)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Howard Oakley is tracking the changes in macOS Catalina and Mac firmware with Apple's latest updates.
Eclectic Light Co. said:
What changed in the Catalina 10.15.3 update?
... Almost every model also had an EFI firmware update, which has finally brought all models running supported versions of macOS (10.13-10.15) into alignment. So now it doesn’t matter which version of macOS your Mac is running, from High Sierra to Mojave, its firmware version should remain the same (although different models still use different versions).
...
Bundled apps which have undergone significant change between 10.15.2 and 10.15.3 include:
  • ...
  • Mail, substantial update to build 3608.60.0.2.5
  • ...
Supporting components have also undergone quite widespread change. Among the most prominent are:
  • ... Many graphics driver extensions, including substantial updates to most AMD support, to version 3.5.5, and Apple Intel support, to version 14.4.23
  • Apple Storage Drivers, updated to new version 489.80.2
  • Bluetooth driver, updated to version 7.0.3
  • Thunderbolt drivers, updated to new versions
  • APFS, updated from 1412.61.1 to 1412.81.1
  • SMBFS, updated from 3.4 to 3.4.1
  • Many frameworks have been updated, including JavaScriptCore, OSLog, PDFKit, SwiftUI, and WebKit
  • ... Private frameworks, including AirPlay and Mail
  • ...
Fixes for Apple Mail bugs are being tracked at Michael Tsai's website:
Shriner said:
Michael Tsai - Blog - Mail Data Loss in macOS 10.15
So -- for the purposes of the bug that I know is fixed -- the problem was with "On My Mac" mail being deleted if "Envelope Index" files were deleted (or Mail.app threw up the dialog that the Mail index needed to be rebuilt from the first launch of Mail after upgrading to Catalina). This is fixed in the current 10.15.3 betas. I'm confident in stating that *specific* bug -- seems fixed.

#security #firmware #applequality #applemail
 



Catalina's sleight of hand tricks with APFS are highlighted in this demonstration by Howard Oakley:
The upshot of all this is that you need to stop thinking about the Applications folder as a real folder and instead think of it as a "smart folder" - the results of a search. In this case a search that grabs everything in two different Applications folders.

This is a pretty fundamental paradigm shift, which really needs to be pointed out.

Of course, if you prefer to use Launchpad for launching apps, then you're already familiar with the fact that the presented organization has nothing to do with the physical location in the file system.
 


The upshot of all this is that you need to stop thinking about the Applications folder as a real folder and instead think of it as a "smart folder" - the results of a search. In this case a search that grabs everything in two different Applications folders.
This is a pretty fundamental paradigm shift, which really needs to be pointed out.
Since Apple introduced LaunchPad, I have encountered exactly two people who use it. I routinely use Launchpad Manager (just a satisfied user) to remove the many pages of scattered apps which are randomly presented by LaunchPad. I'd rather have a blank page appear when I mistakenly touch the Launchpad key on my keyboard. In my humble opinion, LaunchPad is a worthless addition to macOS.

And I think that it would be useful to have the Finder include the true pathway when choosing to have the "Show Path Bar" enabled for windows in Catalina, so that users would see the actual location of items, like apps in the Applications folder(s).
 


Since Apple introduced LaunchPad, I have encountered exactly two people who use it.
Well, I guess I'm number three. I find it's more convenient than dragging lots of apps to the Dock, putting aliases on the desktop or wandering through the Applications folder. I launch most stuff via Launchpad, reserving the Dock only for apps that I often want to use as a drop-target (e.g. Emacs) or those that display badges I want to see (e.g. App Store or Messages)

I do take the time to organize my Launchpad, much like I do on my phone - putting everything on one screen, grouped into folders. On my laptop, I used the four-finger-pinch gesture to bring it up. On my desktop, I've remapped the F15 key to bring it up, which I never type by mistake. (I have my keyboards configured so the F-keys generate F-events, so I have to type Fn-F4 to bring up Launchpad with Apple's default keystroke)
 


Since Apple introduced LaunchPad, I have encountered exactly two people who use it.
I used to use the Dock and Finder for launching apps on my MacBook Pros and rarely used a mouse. But, almost two years ago my thumb got infected such that the mummy-like bandaging (including my hand) forced me to use different methods. Launchpad to the rescue, and the search box is convenient for those seldom-used apps and utilities in folders. Occasionally, I use Siri. Trackpad gestures requiring the thumb forced me back to using a mouse.
 


Well, I guess I'm number three.
For me, it is Spotlight for the win. I have never used Launchpad, and I only use the dock occasionally to open the Trash. I don't even know what programs are in my dock.

One annoying issue is that Spotlight won't always prioritize apps on your boot volume, and every once in a while I will accidentally launch something on my connected clone volume. That is rare these days, and I think the Spotlight algorithm must "learn" which app you prefer. For instance, a Spotlight search for iTunes always brings up the (apparently abandoned) iTunes 12.6.5 version in my home directory and not the up to date version in the Applications folder.
 


I use Launchpad all the time, but I never click on the icons, nor have I even tried to arrange them. I make the gesture to bring up the Launchpad screen and type the name of what I want. It works really well and feels faster than Cmd-Space to bring up Spotlight, which also starts searching for anything matching the name.
 


Thank you, MichaelJ, for that tip. I have been using Alfred to call up apps – a simple keystroke to toggle Alfred, start typing the name of the app, and either choose the app from the list or just hit Return if the app I want is at the top. But now I see that Launchpad essentially works the same way. Cool! I shall start using it as well... now I have lost count of how many of us use Launchpad....
 


I have always appreciated utilities that save me keystrokes and are easy to configure. My go-to launcher for frequently-accessed apps, frequently-accessed files, and frequently-accessed folders is the free & powerful HotKey:
‎HotKey App

I typically use the Control key and a letter or number to fire up or switch to an app, like Control M for Apple Mail and Control C for Google Chrome. This is lightning-fast with no extra typing and I never have to use a mouse or trackpad in the process.
 


Well, I guess I'm number three. I find it's more convenient than dragging lots of apps to the Dock, putting aliases on the desktop or wandering through the Applications folder. I launch most stuff via Launchpad, reserving the Dock only for apps that I often want to use as a drop-target (e.g. Emacs) or those that display badges I want to see (e.g. App Store or Messages)
I do take the time to organize my Launchpad, much like I do on my phone - putting everything on one screen, grouped into folders. On my laptop, I used the four-finger-pinch gesture to bring it up. On my desktop, I've remapped the F15 key to bring it up, which I never type by mistake. (I have my keyboards configured so the F-keys generate F-events, so I have to type Fn-F4 to bring up Launchpad with Apple's default keystroke)
I use much the same criteria for the dock, then I go to Devontech's XMenu, the closest I've found to the original Mac apple menu.
 



The 10.15.3 Combo update disk image file is correct now on Apple's downloads website!
If you would rather have the 10.15.3 installer, rather than just the updater, go to the App Store and look for macOS Catalina. It will let you download (and install) version 10.15.3. If you simply want to keep the copy, quit the installer and then put the file away.
 



The latest Catalina update, 10.15.3, has fixed my Mail.app issues with disappearing messages on move, as well as the Delete/Undo problems. There was no mention of any Mail.app changes in this update. I'm really relieved that this is fixed, as managing my email has been like walking in a mine field.
Yes, but they still haven't fixed the flagged items bugs, which continue to show unused flagged categories, as well as changing item counts.
 



I have always appreciated utilities that save me keystrokes and are easy to configure. My go-to launcher for frequently-accessed apps, frequently-accessed files, and frequently-accessed folders is the free & powerful ‎HotKey App.I typically use the Control key and a letter or number to fire up or switch to an app, like Control M for Apple Mail and Control C for Google Chrome. This is lightning-fast with no extra typing and I never have to use a mouse or trackpad in the process.
I used the insanely useful QuicKeys for application launches (among other things) before OS X. I’m now using Automator to set up application launches via key commands.

There is one quirk that keeps this from being a simple and perfect solution, which is that at startup, for some reason, those key combos don’t work. You have to go to the Finder menu and access Services; the menu of file launch keys then appears, and after that it all works. I came across a question about this behavior in Apple’s user discussions and, predictably, no one had any answers.

I recall being excited about Automator at the Tiger launch event at my local Apple Store. Seems like yet another useful tool that Apple has neglected. (I also recall the Apple store being an exciting place and the Tiger launch being an exciting event. I miss the days when a new Mac OS version was not a source of dread.)
 



Since folks seem to be interested in various launchers, I'll mention the venerable Quicksilver. It's a free, open source app, and it apparently still works fine on Catalina. (I'm currently running it on Sierra and Mojave.) It's one of the first things I install on my personal machines.
 


Yesterday I upgraded my 2012 MacBook Pro Retina from Mojave to Catalina. While poking around, I noticed that the Applications folder has two copies of TurboTax Deluxe 2017. Also, the Adobe Photoshop CS6 folder contains TurboTax Deluxe 2017 and 2018.

I understand that the Applications folder is not really as it appears, but this is ridiculous. I won't try to fix anything until I understand what is going on. I haven't noticed anything else weird but will keep looking.
 


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