macOS Catalina is here. Here's how to update and the biggest features

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon October 7, 2019

Apple has updated iOS, watchOS and iPadOS in recent weeks -- and now we're going back to the Mac. macOS Catalina is rolling out for users everywhere on Monday and brings with it some solid new updates.

We're not just giving you a how-to update to macOS 10.15 (and spoiler alert, it's not that hard), but also breaking down a few of the features we're most excited about.

Your iPad can be an external display

With the new feature called Sidecar and the power of macOS Catalina, your iPad can now be an external display, and this comes in super handy. Even better, it lets you control your extended workspace with an Apple Pencil. This is a dream for marking up screenshots or even editing in creative apps like Adobe Illustrator.

And it doesn't just give you a second display, but it can also mirror your display. You may have suffered through moments where the projector didn't work, but now you can pull out your iPad to act as a mirror. Sidecar works with the iPad either through a hardware connection or wirelessly.

Control Mac with your voice

Like iOS, macOS is getting a big accessibility boost, as you can now control the Mac with your voice. Not only does this unlock the door and enable many more people to use Macs, but it's truly impressive. Your voice can fully navigate the entirety of macOS, from zooming in on an app using a number or a grid system, to responding to texts, browsing the web and even using specific apps.

This is a very big deal and Apple deserves a big thumbs up for this.

No more iTunes, but your credit and the iTunes Store live on

Yes, it's true -- iTunes is gone in macOS Catalina, and you now get dedicated Music, Podcasts and TV apps. But have no fear, as the iTunes Store lives on in the Music app, and your credit to the store is still there.

The three apps make sense, but might take a little getting used to. But all three keep a similar user interface, with Music mirroring iTunes quite a bit. Podcasts is nearly identical to the iOS or iPadOS app, and same for the TV app.

iPad apps are coming to Mac

Mac Catalyst is an easy way for developers to turn iPad versions of apps into Mac apps. And the good news here is for you, as you'll get many new apps. There's a fun one coming from Post-Its and many others will join in on the party in the coming weeks.

What Macs will support Catalina?

Here's how to update

macOS Catalina starts its rollout Monday. The update for the macOS 10.15 will be found in the Mac App Store and under Software Update in System Preferences. It's a good idea to complete a backup as well, just in case, and Time Machine makes it easy to do this.

In the Mac App Store, you'll see a large screening showing off macOS Catalina. Click download to get the installer on your laptop. Keep in mind that it can take a while to install, as many people will be downloading it at the same time. In System Preferences under Software Update it will likely pass you over to the Mac App Store to get the installer downloaded.

Install times can vary, and if you have a laptop, make sure you have your Mac plugged into a charger. Once the install is complete, you'll be ready for macOS 10.15 Catalina -- and the new wallpapers are epic!

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.