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How Long the macOS Catalina Update Takes to Install



The macOS Catalina update is an important update that packs in a ton of new features for your Mac. This is 4.9GB to 8.09GB depending on your latest update and your Mac. If you are prepared for the macOS Catalina update, this will go faster since backing up is a major part of the time needed to install, but macOS Catalina problems can slow you down.

The most common question I’m hearing is, “How long does the macOS Catalina update take to finish?”, and while it varies based on many factors, we can help you with a good ballpark of how long you can expect the update to take.

Read: How to Fix macOS Catalina Problems

If you are on the latest macOS Mojave update, this will take less time, but if you are on an older version it will take longer as the download is bigger and you may need to install multiple updates.

Here's how long it takes to download and install macOS Catalina.

Here’s how long it takes to download and install macOS Catalina.

On a 400 Mbps down internet connection, my download took 14 minutes when it worked, but it failed twice and I spent the better part of an hour and a half on the first two attempts.



Backup to Time Machine (Optional)

5 minutes to a day

macOS Catalina Download

15 minutes to 2 hours

macOS Catalina Installation Time

30 to 50 minutes

Total macOS Mojave Update Time

45 minutes to several hours 

The biggest factor is if you are prepared, so make sure you spend the time before you try to install the update. You can use your computer while it backs up and while the update downloads, but not during the installation period.

macOS Catalina Download Time

How long does macOS Catalina take to download?

How long does macOS Catalina take to download?

The exact macOS Catalina installation time will vary from users to user due to download speeds, and demand for the update. Now that the update’s been out for almost a week, download errors are less likely and the speeds will be slightly better.

macOS Catalina Installation Time

During installation, you cannot use the Mac.

During installation, you cannot use the Mac.

The macOS Catalina installation should take about 30 to 50 minutes if everything works right. This includes a speedy download and a simple install with no issues or errors.

I ran into a macOS Catalina installation problem where I didn’t have enough space, so the installation time took three times longer than it should have. Once I solved the install problem by freeing up space, I was able to install macOS Catalina in about 40 minutes.

6 Reasons Not to Install macOS Catalina & 11 Reasons You Should

Using Your iPad as a Display + Apple Pencil

Using Your iPad as a Display + Apple Pencil

One of the biggest macOS Catalina features is called Sidecar. This allows you to use your iPad as an external display for your Mac. You can connect wirelessly, so this works at home as well as on the go, to amp up your productivity. You can also use this tech to work on your Mac with the Apple Pencil. 

The display option lets you extend your desktop or mirror the display. This makes it easy to either add more space or get a portable version of your Mac's display that you can take to the couch or just hold in your hand. I plan to use this with an Ergotron iPad mount to add another display on my desk. I'll also use it when working remote at trade shows and on business trips. 

Select Mac Apps will allow you to use Sidecar to draw and mark up items on your Mac using the Apple Pencil on your iPad display. This can replace a dedicated drawing tablet in some cases and is a really amazing free feature. 

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