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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.

During the WWDC keynote Apple's vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federaghi showed off some new (and old) ways of managing your desktop. Currently when you have lots of things open you can use Mission Control (probably F3 on your Mac keyboard) to view a minimised version of all the documents and apps you have open along with any desktop Spaces (where users can gather particular programs). We're pleased to see that the older Expos behavior has returned to the Mission Control view - currently in Yosemite when you press F3 you see documents associated with apps all gathered together. We preferred the was Expos used to show you minimized views off all the documents you had open so you could see them - rather than having the Word document you were looking for hidden behind another. The old behavior will return in El Capitan: pressing F3 will show all your open apps making it easy to find the right document amidst the multiple documents you have open.

In addition, a new Spaces Bar will make it easier to create and manage multiple desktops - a + appears in the far right of the Spaces Bar, click on that to create a new desktop. This isn't new behavior, you can add new Desktops in Spaces currently by clicking on the desktop image poking out of the top right corner of the Mac, but the new way is a lot more intuitive and the new design take up a lot less space.

There are also better options for working with multiple apps at the same time coming thanks to an improved full-screen mode. Clicking and dragging the green window-resize button will activate a new Split View that fills the screen with two apps at once. Users can choose the amount of space given to each app.

Another change not mentioned by Apple during the keynote is the new system font. As anticipated, the new San Francisco font found on the Apple Watch will be making its way to OS X (and also iOS 9). Currently, the system font in iOS 8 and Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite is Helvetica Neue.

If you are wondering what the San Francisco font looks like, the typeface is very similar to Helvetica Neue but the capital R is less rounded. At least that's how we can tell the difference.

We've had heard that the new font may not look great on non-Retina screens, but we can confirm that it looks absolutely fine on the 12-inch MacBook screen. We haven't viewed it on a 17in Retina iMac yet though.

OS X El Capitan: Spotlight

Spotlight search is gaining some longed for enhancements: namely the ability to move the new Spotlight window around the screen. In Yosemite the Spotlight window moved from the right hand side of the screen to take prominence in the centre, which is a problem if it is overlapping other applications you are working with. In OS X El Capitan the Spotlight window can now be dragged away from the screen center. You can also resize the results window.


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