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Messed up OS upgrade

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I have a 2019 27in iMac and it was running Catalina. I wanted to upgrade to Big Sur but my update was constantly spinning and never showing any updates. I tried trouble shooting and did the following 

- Clear cache

- Reboot in safe mode

- Reset NVRAM

- Reset SMC - this is where I think I truly messed up. It took my computer back to Mojave. It gave me options to restore from Time Machine or upgrade OS. I chose OS. I upgraded to Catalina and then upgraded to Big Sur. I can’t see any of my files or apps anymore but there is stuff definitely there. When I look at the storage, there is only 426gb available from 1tb. Majority is in a section called ‘other’. 

Any idea on what I did wrong? I did back up my computer using Time Machine before I did this mess up. 



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Update: I worked out that all my files were in 'other', under 'previous content'. So I did another time machine backup on a new external drive. Once I knew I had all my files backed up on two separate drives, I erased my iMac using disc utility on startup (holding cmd R once I turn it on and holding until the apple logo appears). Then I reinstalled Big Sur. All my files, apps, and settings are back where they used to be. I haven't opened photoshop yet but hopefully that's all good too. 

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Sorry that I've been MIA. I've been busy with my Day-Job and haven't had much time online.

I'm glad you were able to get things worked out, I was about to suggest that either your HD had corruption or the Big Sur file you downloaded had corruption. Sometimes you just have to nuke the drive and start fresh. Photoshop should work fine, I'm on Big Sur and running the latest version of Photoshop, but my Video Card is a Radeon Pro 580 8 GB and Photoshop is getting a bit "Laggy." My plan is to have my iMac last until Early 2025 and then I will replace it.

Depending on what video card you have or the "Graphics" listing under "About this Mac..." will determine your experience in Photoshop. If your video card isn't up to par, Photoshop will start bitching right away or you will experience weird things happening. Especially when using Tools like Liquify. Hopefully you have at least 4GB of Video Memory. If you only have 2GB or so, I'd install an older version of Photoshop, like Version 22.2. It seems that Photoshop CC 2020 is no longer available and you would have to contact Adobe to get a download link. Hopefully, your iMac is a little on the "Beefy" side and this will be a non-issue.

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Thanks for your reply Brian. I'm a bit late with my reply too! 

I haven't had any issue so far with photoshop but my iMac does tell me I have an update (I'm assuming it's the next OS), however, I can't check it because it just spins and says checking for updates. 

My graphics says Radeon Pro 570X 4GB. I have 24GB of memory (2x 8GB and 2 x4GB). 

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Yeah, it's probably wanting you to upgrade to Ventura. Well, there might be another OS update as well. I'd head to the System Preferences and click on Software Update. Here is what mine looks like now:


From this point, I would not update to Ventura and I'd click the "Advanced..." Button. Then Un-check "Install MacOS Updates" and then click OK. By leaving the "Install system data files and security updates" checked, this will allow your current OS to be updated, but by having "Install macOS updates" unchecked, keeps Ventura and any other newer macOS from being installed automatically. This way you are in control of what is installed.

Sure, things can download, but if there are updates to Big Sur, you will be notified and will be the one in charge to install them, along with any Safari Updates. Ventura really has no advantage on older Macs; it's really meant to benefit the newer M1 & M2 Macs. Of course there could be and argument for things like additional Security Updates and the like, but for me personally, I'm on Big Sur and it runs fine with my 2017 iMac.


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