Have you had any issues installing macOS Catalina? Specifically, have you encountered any strange scenarios where the upgrade — which shouldn’t take that long to do — seems to hang for a lot longer than what feels reasonable?
If so, something has probably gone wrong with your installation. And while you’re free to wait it out, and even let your Mac run overnight to see if this sluggish scenario self-corrects, odds are good that you’re going to have to intercede on your Mac’s behalf.
If your Mac hangs on the “Setting up your Mac” screen, which should appear shortly after the App Store Catalina download finishes and the installation kicks off, you have one great solution to bend your Mac to your will once again: reset it. Hold down your Mac’s power button until it turns off, and then turn it back on again. As MacRumors describes:
“After the Mac gets to the “Setting Up Your Mac...” screen, the macOS Catalina installation is largely complete. We don’t recommend restarting right away, but if sits at that screen for a half hour or more, shut it down because it’s not going to resolve on its own.
The macOS Catalina installation takes some time so don’t restart ahead of when the setup screen pops up, but based on a multitude of reports, resetting in this way if it gets stuck appears to be a safe way of getting your Mac up and running again.”
I wouldn’t normally recommend this as the first trick you try when troubleshooting issues with your Mac—especially if it’s any kind of frozen installation or update—but it seems to work wonders in Catalina’s case. Know that you do run the risk of mucking up your computer, experiencing data loss, or summoning any other problems that could happen when you abruptly power down your system.
If you don’t have any other hope of getting Catalina to install, however, it seems like a risk worth taking this time around.
Also, this is exactly why we recommend making a big backup before you install major system updates on your Mac. And if you don’t want to fuss with any of this, you could always wait a few weeks (or months) to see if Apple updates Catalina to address some of these bugs. Sure, you’ll miss out on fun features like Sidecar, but you’ll live.