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El Capitan Briefing: What You Need to Know Before Installing the Latest OS X Iteration on Your Mac

Posted on: October 7th, 2015 by

On September 30, Apple released the latest iteration of their popular operating system, OS X El Capitan. El Capitan focuses primarily on improving performance and the user experience, although there are a number of enhancements along with one major issue. Below are some noteworthy highlights.

  • Office 2011/2016 Woes: Soon after upgrading to El Capitan, Mac users with Microsoft Office installed experienced major problems. The symptom is usually the pinwheel of death, especially with Outlook clients connecting to Exchange servers. Microsoft released a patch for Office 2011. Microsoft is working on a fix for Office 2016.
  • Spotlight Improvements: Spotlight, the search utility, searches more data sources, including weather. It also supports natural language processing. Check out this 1 minute video to see it in action.
  • Major Notes Enhancements: Notes saw major enhancements, to the point that Evernote users should take notice.
  • Performance Gains: Apple says their new graphics API, called Metal, makes for a faster OS X experience. The improved performance may include faster app launching, faster app switching, and faster displays of the first email in Mail. An independent test shows that performance results may be mixed, depending on your Mac computer. I’ve upgraded two Macs, and I can tell El Capitan performs faster, except with Outlook, of course.
  • Safari Additions: For the end user, Safari enhancements include a tab mute for those pesky advertisement videos on Yahoo, pinned sites, which is a cross between bookmarks and tabs, and finally support for AirPlay for the Chromecast fan. For the developer, the new developer menu shows a Responsive Design Mode to demonstrate how a site will look on different iOS devices and screen resolutions. Read this Macworld article for more details.
spinning pinwheel

spinning pinwheel

  • Visual Tweaks: The Windows split view feature founds its way in OS X.   The default system font is San Francisco. You can move the mouse rapidly and the cursor grows, so you can locate it easily. And last but not least, the 2D spinning pinwheel is here. That’s right, folks. The 3D spinning pinwheel appears to be a thing of the past.

So, overall, I’m pleased with the upgrade experience, although Office 2016 users should postpone the upgrade until Microsoft has a patch available.

Happy Fall!

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