OS X 10.11: El Capitan is out now: here's how to get it

If you want to upgrade to the latest version of OS X, here’s where you can bag it

Every year, we get a new version of OS X, and Apple's latest incarnation of its desktop operating system is now out - known as OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

If you want to download and get going with El Capitan for free, here are the simple steps you need to follow in order to grab it.

Before embarking upon downloading the new OS, you'd better make sure your machine is compatible. El Capitan works with the same Apple computers as the previous version of OS X (10.10 Yosemite) was, namely the following:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminium, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)

You'll also need to be upgrading from OS X 10.6.8 or better, as you'll need access to the Mac App Store which was only introduced with Snow Leopard – that's where you'll find the El Capitan download.

To grab the new OS, simply open the Mac App Store, and click on Updates in the menu along the top (far right). You'll see the El Capitan download here (if you don't, then Apple still hasn't released it – give it a little while, then come back and try again later).

Of course, before you upgrade, make sure you back up your Mac – that should be standard procedure before making any major change to your machine, as there's no telling what could go wrong. You can use Time Machine to make a backup with ease.

It's also worth bearing in mind that whenever a new OS is released, you can expect heavy download traffic with the initial stampede of users keen to get the software as soon as possible.

It may be worth waiting until a little later in the evening to fire up your download after the initial clamour has died down.

What's new?

OS X El Capitan introduces a split view for using two apps simultaneously on-screen, plus a streamlined Mission Control, along with improvements to Spotlight and Mail, and plenty of other minor tweaks such as being able to shake your mouse when you lose sight of the cursor, whereupon it will become bigger.

Performance improvements have also been implemented, with 'Metal' graphics tech offering an increase in system-level graphics rendering of up to 50%. Everything should be snappier overall, with Apple promising that apps will launch up to 1.4 times faster than with Mavericks.

Also check out: Windows 10: a triumph that OS X El Capitan will struggle to match