No doubt about it: El Capitan is a solid upgrade from the Yosemite.
Named after the towering granite rock standing proud at the Yosemite National Park (you now know where they got their namesake), the El Capitan provides only a few new features, but don’t fret or be disappointed: it’s a performance-centric upgrade, according to Apple (and my colleagues at Ultimate Mac who have all been using it so far agree)
Unless your Mac is an old one and incompatible with the new operating system, you really should install it right away: it’s free and I have no idea why you would want to stick with Yosemite anyway (disclosure: I thought it sucked)
If you have doubts, I’ll help you out: read through this review and you will be able to decide whether to download or not.
Chances are, your computer is compatible with El Capitan, but if it isn’t (and the latest OS it runs is Snow Leopard), then it’s probably time to replace it.
The good old Captain requires a Mac with at least 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB worth of free storage space. Your device should also run operating systems not earlier than OS X 10.6.8. If your computer runs Snow Leopard you don’t need to download Lion, Mountain Lion, or Mavericks to install El Capitan.
The software is free and readily available in Mac App Store. The whole file size is about 6 GB, so you’ll need to wait – duration is dependent on how fast your Internet connection is.
Pros and Cons
Let’s skim the surface before digging deep: installing El Capitan both has its upsides and downsides. These include:
- It’s faster compared to Yosemite and earlier operating systems.
- Better Mission Control and multitasking capabilities.
- Built-in apps like Mail, Notes, and Maps have been improved and have new features.
- Safari can enable you to silence individual tabs.
- Smarter Spotlight (though it’s still inconsistent)
- Better language support for foreign languages.
- Some third-party apps could be incompatible, unless if they’re updated and patched up.
- The new release does not have as much features average observers would hope it would.
Working with it
Transitioning from Yosemite poses no problems: it’s almost similar to its predecessor visually and in terms of how it feels fiddling around it. The font has changed, though trying to discern it from the previous one font is like trying to tell the difference between ducks and geese.
It still possesses the flat, minimalist look Yosemite brought in. It’s pleasant and easy on the eyes.
In terms of opening apps and documents, El Capitan somehow made my three year old MacBook go a bit faster. Maybe this is only my imagination or some sort placebo-effect, other reviews are reporting the same thing.
Everything, from using the Split View feature to opening PDFs, has been snappy. Apple has incorporated Metal, an advanced graphics engine already used on the iOS, which is partially responsible for the peachy responses of graphics heavy apps like Photos (formerly known as iPhotos).
Productivity and app compatibility
If you have productivity applications installed and you heavily rely on them to accomplish your assignments, it’s best not to install El Capitan first. There are numerous applications which are still unsupported in the new operating system, so it’s best to check the app and see if it’s El Capitan-ready.
One of its niftiest new features is the Split View feature, which gives El Capitan a plus for productivity. Basically, it allows you to open two applications, split them on screen, and work on them at the same time. You can interact with one app and completely ignore the other. For example, you could scroll up in one and the other would go untouched.
The Mission Control feature has been tweaked as well. It now offers a clearer single layer view which enables you to easily find the window you’re looking for. And yes, it no longer stacks them up.
A short summary of notable improvements
From Spotlight to Notes, here are some notable improvements and El Capitan’s new features:
- Spotlight accepts natural language search. I typed in “slideshow I made last Friday” and it showed results of the Powerpoint presentation I created last week. You can now search for stocks, weather, and even videos on YouTube and Vimeo.
- Notes now has an “attachments tab” which shows all the files attached to all your notes.
- Mail is often overlooked, but it now uses the track pad to emulate touch features on the iOS. It also takes the initiative and adds events and contacts to your calendar and contacts list, depending on the content of the e-mail.
- Apple Maps now has transit information of selected cities.
- iPhoto has been renamed to Photos, and it looks entirely new. It also has new sorting and editing tools.
- Safari now has Pinned Tabs and the ability to enable users to mute individual tabs.
Overall, El Capitan is a worthy installment in the OS X lineage – if Yosemite gave you a headache, you are going to get some relief with El Capitan. So far it’s doing great and we should definitely look forward to future improvements!
If your Mac is a ship, there’s no better OS to sail it than El Capitan!