El Capitan aims to be the stability and polish release, probably not seen on OS X since about OS X Snow Leopard. That doesn’t mean there are no new features. Apple stuffed plenty into OS X 10.11, and while some are much needed and much heralded, others are somewhat anemic and more eye candy than useful. Here’s my list
The Good. The Bad. No Ugly.
Most reviews of OS X El Capitan point to the visible features, but Apple has done plenty of work underneath the hood to strengthen security, but let me start with a little eye candy.
Spotlight – It was better in Yosemite than previous versions, and it’s better in El Capitan because you can resize and move the search window, and, for the first time, it understands natural language queries which also work in Mail and Finder.
Full-Screen Split View – The long name still doesn’t say it all, and it is nothing like what was expected with Split View. Click and hold down the green zoom button in the upper left and the app window expands to full-screen mode, but only on half the screen. Do the same for another app and you have two apps windows side-by-side, in fullscreen; the Dock and Menubar disappear.
Safari – Mute sound tab by tab. Pin tabs for easier access. Stream specific videos from within Safari to Apple TV via AirPlay instead of streaming the Mac’s entire screen. That is very cool and quite useful.
Notes – Admit it. We all use Notes. Even you. Notes is now a mini-word processor on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and it’s now OK to dump in Maps, graphics, weblink previews, and even checklists right into the app. The attachment browser makes it easy to click and get to the note you want. Make sure you upgrade to Notes on iPhone, iPad, and Mac so everything stays in sync between devices.
Little Things – This is the list that goes on forever, but a few good ones come to mind, including a useful Find My Friends widget in Notification Center, third part editing extensions in Photos, transit directions in Maps, a few shadows on buttons here and there, and the same Font (San Francisco) as is used now in iOS 9 and Watch.
And now, a little of the bad. Admittedly, this is a nitpick section, but Apple still hasn’t figured out how to please every customer.
Mail – Full-screen is better because the Compose Email window is integrated into the full-screen window rather than floating off into the nether regions. Some of Mail’s menus are arranged in a rather funky, convoluted way, and it took me awhile to figure out where my mailboxes were. They’re still there, just not where I left them.
Disk Utility – I saw this coming because I had access to El Capitan on Wil’s test machine, but I kept hoping that Apple would regain their senses and put in an Advanced tab with the same features as Disk Utility in OS X Yosemite. No. Such. Luck. Disk utility is all glam and less substance now; pretty, simple, and the only button that’s worthy of anything– First Aid– doesn’t say what it’s doing while it’s doing it. Most of what I call ‘average Mac users’ don’t know what Disk Utility did before El Capitan, and it’s likely they’ll never know now. Say goodbye to Repair Permissions.
There’s more, but I don’t get paid by the word.
My upgrade to OS X El Capitan has gone smoothly, but with an odd alert that tells me the application (Mail) doesn’t have enough memory to run, so it’s apparent there’s a memory leak in a utility app or plugin somewhere. Restarting clears it up. I backed up twice using SuperDuper!, then downloaded El Capitan from the App Store and ran through the install. The whole process took about 30-minutes, including the download. Be sure to rename the downloaded file if you want to use it again later without having to download it again.
Otherwise, El Capitan is a good and worthy upgrade.