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MacOS Catalina will ship in October but you can get ready now

Catalina is coming from Apple in October, but you can start making preparations for the MacOS update today.

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MacOS Catalina is coming in October, Apple quietly revealed.

Screenshot Clifford Colby/CNET
This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

MacOS Catalina is coming in October, Apple quietly revealed on its Catalina site following Apple's event Tuesday. Rather more loudly, Apple also rolled out the new iPhone 11 and 11 ProiPadsApple Arcade, Apple Watch Series 5 smartwatches and Apple TV Plus.

In CatalinaApple will replace the iTunes app with three separate apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV. Just as useful, the revision lets Mac users run iPad apps they can download through the Mac App Store and use an iPad as a second screen, much in the way you might use a monitor. 

While we wait for the free Catalina update, you can do a bit of preparation now to make sure the installation goes as smoothly as possible when it is available.

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Catalina will bring updated music and photos apps.

Screenshot Clifford Colby/CNET

Check you can run Catalina

While Catalina brings a boatload of improvements, its hardware requirements remain the same as for MacOS Mojave, the current version of the OS. So if you can run Mojave, you can run Catalina. Here are the Macs that meet the requirements:

To check which Mac you have, from the Apple menu, choose About This Mac. The Overview tab displays which Mac you have.

Before you install Catalina...

Before you download and install the MacOS update, you can make some preparations to ensure the move to Catalina goes as smoothly as possible.

Make a backup. Before you download and install the MacOS update, have a good, current backup of the contents of your Mac's drive, in case something goes south during the installation or afterward and you need to revert back. You can either use the Mac's built-in Time Machine backup utility or grab a Mac backup app like Carbon Copy Cloner.

Know your Apple ID. If you are a Mac user, you probably have an Apple ID. If not, get one, because you'll most likely need it during the Catalina setup process and logging into iCloud.

Check your free storage space. The download is big -- around 6.5GB -- and Apple said you should probably have about 20GB of free storage space to install Catalina.

Update your apps. With Catalina, Apple is turning off support for 32-bit apps. What that means is, if you have an older app you still use -- say, Microsoft Office 11 for Mac -- check that you have a 64-bit version of the app before you move to Catalina. 

To check for 32-bit apps, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu and click the System Report button. From the system report, scroll down to Software in the sidebar and select Applications. When you select an individual application, you will see a field labeled 64-bit (Intel). If you see Yes it's 64-bit; No means it's 32-bit.

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If you see No next to 64-Bit (Intel), the app won't run in Catalina.

Screenshot Clifford Colby/CNET

Check if a 64-bit version of the app is available. If not, you'll either have to find a replacement or stick with your current MacOS so you can keep using the software.

For more, be sure to follow our coverage of Tuesday's Apple event.

Originally published earlier this summer. Updated with new information.

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