OS X El Capitan Reviews: 'Solid as a Rock' and a Worthy Update Thanks to Performance Improvements

Following the release of the golden master version of OS X 10.11 El Capitan to developers earlier in the month, the first reviews for the newest iteration on Apple's desktop operating system have begun to hit this morning, ahead of the wide public release tomorrow, September 30. After testing El Capitan for a few weeks, most sites agree that while OS X 10.11 isn't a massive overhaul, its performance enhancements and speed boosts make upgrading to the free new OS essentially a no-brainer.

elcapitanmacbook
Macworld calls El Capitan "solid as a rock," noting improvements to features like Mission Control and the introduction of Split View as big positives. Overall, Macworld views the upgrade as "routine", a welcome refresh amid Apple's continued push towards performance and security improvements.

Should you update to El Capitan? Unreservedly yes—I’ve found it to be stable, it’s free, it’ll download and install itself on your Mac with nearly no intervention, and it’ll bring with it improved security, speed, and functionality.

The days of dramatic operating-system updates are over. El Capitan is as solid as the giant granite monolith that towers over Yosemite Valley. Upgrade, and get an improved Mac. It’s really that simple.

Engadget gives El Capitan an 87/100 score, calling it a "modest update" after Yosemite last year, but with solid new introductions like multitasking and noticeable improvements to Spotlight, Safari, and Photos. In particular, the site points out the exciting possibilities that will come from the addition of third-party extensions for Photos, allowing users to take advantage of the editing tools of other photo apps within Apple's own Photos experience.

While Apple promised third-party extensions when it first unveiled the new Photos app earlier this year, extensions won't actually be available to download until tomorrow. Extensions can be downloaded from the Mac App Store, either bundled with an app or distributed on their own. Although some developers, like the folks behind Pixelmator, have gotten a head start, most developers are only just getting the chance to access these tools for the first time. So, we should be seeing more extensions hit the App Store as the season wears on. Personally, as an Engadget editor posting lots of hands-on photos, I'd really like to see one for batch-watermarking.

The Verge commented on the small but noticeable improvements brought by El Capitan, such as the ability to pin tabs in Safari and even mute them from the address bar, which the site says should cause Google Chrome users to give Apple's browser another look. Overall, The Verge views OS X 10.11 as Apple's evolutionary in-house solution for a handful of problems and shortcomings third-party software has addressed over the years, making the update feel both minor and substantial at the same time.

El Capitan takes the sorts of things that experts have been doing with third-party apps and utilities for years on the Mac and builds them right into the OS. Spotlight is becoming more than just a simple file search box. Window management is becoming easier. Notes is more than just a raw text box. Most of it left me nonplussed because all of these things didn't feel new and different to me — I've been finding ways to fix all of those problems for years with third party apps and add-ons. But with El Capitan, Apple's made the learning curve you usually have to climb to become a "power user" (whatever that is) much more gradual.

Everyone will be able to get in on experiencing El Capitan for themselves starting tomorrow, when the new version of OS X launches for the public. Before the update goes live, a handful of other sites have posted reviews for El Capitan, including: The Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, CNET, and SlashGear. For a more technical overview of OS X El Capitan, Ars Technica also has an excellent review.

Top Rated Comments

pubwvj Avatar
88 months ago
"sites agree that while OS X 10.11 isn't a massive overhaul, its performance enhancements and speed boosts make upgrading to the free new OS essentially a no-brainer."

That's what I want. Solid. Simple. Nothing Fancy. Not breaking my existing apps and work flow.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bpeeps Avatar
88 months ago
Muting tabs in Safari is the biggest reason I want to upgrade. So due. The amount of times I've opened up a new tab with some autoplay music/video and you have to spend eternity searching for it to mute.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Marx55 Avatar
88 months ago
Apple should bring back color labels and scroll arrows.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tubamajuba Avatar
88 months ago
"Solid as a rock"? Rock Cocaine Crack maybe . . . . Hardly solid as a rock from what I can see and postings on macrumors forums.
These forums are a great way to see the kind of problems you might face with an upgrade, but they are not at all representative of the frequency of said problems. People post far more about issues than they do about successful installations.

If you were to go by these forums, every piece of software ever written is a piece of bug-ridden junk.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
88 months ago
I hope this ends up being a Snow Leopard type release. Yosemite has been good to me and this sounds even better. Completely forgot it was releasing tomorrow though, haha. As per usual I'll hold back a month or two on my work machine and install it right away on my personal machine.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
George Dawes Avatar
88 months ago
Hopefully it's the new Snow Leopard
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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