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Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan release date and new features

Karen Haslam | Aug. 20, 2015
If you are already convinced you want to run El Capitan and are wondering just how quickly you can get you hands on it you will be glad to hear that you won’t be waiting for long - in fact if you aren't risk averse you can get it now.

Find out if your Mac is supported by clicking on the Apple logo in the top left of your screen, and selecting About this Mac > Overview. There you will see details of which Mac you have, and the year that model first appeared.

When Apple announced that El Capitan would have the same system requirements as Yosemite and Mavericks it confirmed that the next version of OS X would actually offer improved performance on the older hardware.

OS X El Capitan: Why that name?

Because it's building on OS X Yosemite, Apple felt that the new operating system should take the name of something within the Yosemite National Park, so OS X 10.11 will be known as El Capitan.

This follows the convention started with Snow Leopard. When Snow Leopard was introduced, it was a successor to Leopard, with security enhancements and system fixes (sound familiar?)

El Capitan is the name of a rock formation in the Yosemite National Park. Its sheer granite face is said to be one of the world's most challenging for rock climbers. El Capitn means the captain, or the chief and was a Spanish translation of the name the Native Americans had given the rocks. Rock climbers and base jumpers refer to the rock as 'El Cap'. We've already started referring to it colloquially as OS Cap Ten. The general consensus seems to be that it's an awkward name, it generated a lot of banter on Twitter when it was unveiled with many variants of the name being shared for comedy value. Still it's probably a better name for the next version of OS X than the other well known rock formation in Yosemite: Half Dome.

Interface and Desktop changes in OS X El Capitan

The name isn't as important as the ways in which the interface is changing in OS X El Capitan, though. While the interface changes in El Capitan are minor compared to the complete overhaul of Yosemite, there are some very notable tweaks.

The first thing you will probably notice when you start up El Capitan is that when you wiggling your finger on the trackpad, or shaking your mouse, as most of us do when we want to locate the curser the curser will make your curser jump out at you so you can see it clearly. It's one way that demonstrates that Apple is taking note of user behaviour when updating the operating system.

A significant change to the desktop view that Apple didn't demonstrate during the keynote is the fact that a new option in System Preferences > General allows users to "Automatically hide and show the menu bar" in a similar vein to the way that users can choose to hide the Dock. This will be especially beneficial to users of smaller laptops such as the 11-inch MacBook Air or the 12-inch MacBook where every pixel counts.


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