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
81 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
81 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
81 months ago
Apple should bring back color labels and scroll arrows.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tubamajuba Avatar
81 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
81 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
81 months ago
Hopefully it's the new Snow Leopard
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
apple top apps games 2020

Apple Reveals the Most Downloaded iOS Apps and Games of 2021

Thursday December 2, 2021 12:05 am PST by
Along with naming its editorial picks for the top apps and games of 2021, Apple today shared charts for the most downloaded free and paid apps and games in the United States across 2021. The number one most downloaded free iPhone app was TikTok, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. The top paid iPhone apps included Procreate Pocket, HotSchedules, The Wonder Weeks, and Touch...
m3 feature black

Macs With 'M3' Chips Expected to Use TSMC's 3nm Chip Technology With Test Production Reportedly Underway

Thursday December 2, 2021 7:36 am PST by
Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built on its 3nm process, known as N3, according to Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed industry sources, claims that TSMC will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022 and start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Apple and Intel in the first quarter of...
telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
app store awards 2021

Apple Picks the 2021 App Store Award Winners, Highlighting the Best Apps of the Year

Thursday December 2, 2021 12:01 am PST by
Apple today shared its 2021 App Store Award winners, highlighting the 15 best apps and games selected by Apple's global App Store editorial team. The top apps were chosen for their quality, innovative technology, creative design, and positive cultural impact. "The developers who won App Store Awards in 2021 harnessed their own drive and vision to deliver the best apps and games of the year --...
MBA Mock White Front Blue

2022 MacBook Air Getting Major Display Upgrade With One Drawback

Friday December 3, 2021 3:01 am PST by
Apple's next-generation MacBook Air is reportedly set to bring over many of the new MacBook Pro's features, with one noticeable omission, according to recent reports. The latest MacBook Pro models feature a mini-LED "Liquid Retina XDR" display with deep blacks and support for up to 1,600 nits peak brightness. The display also features Apple's "ProMotion" technology, which is capable of...