My 4 Favorite Features of OS X El Capitan

There are plenty of things to like about OS X El Capitan, due out this fall. Apple has focused on performance and experience, and that means some welcome new refinements of the user interface. Amongst the many improvements, I have four in mind that I especially like.


1. Call out your cursor. For a very long time, I used Mouse Locator. Recently, in an effort to track downsome OS conflicts, I ended up deleting some features I had installed because diagnostic data looked like they could be culprits. Or conflict with each other. Mouse Locator was one. In hindsight, I think I can probably reinstall Mouse Locator and see what happens. It's been a great utility over the years.

Meanwhile, I've been working with El Capitan (beta 6) and have greatly enjoyed the built-in function that calls out your cursor, in Apple-speak. What's cool is that it takes advantage of what we've instinctively done all along: shake the mouse. This will magnify the cursor, easily revealing its location. It will be a signature feature of El Capitan.

Credit: Apple

2. New Disk Utility. Disk Utility not only gets a gorgeous visual makeover but retains its essential functionality in a more coherent presentation. Instead of confronting the user with a potentially scary utility, the new design is far less intimidating. Notably, the need to occasionally repair system permissions is no longer necessary because they're automatically protected in OS X 10.11.

Most users, I surmise, were bewildered why some file permissions ever got changed and needed to be "repaired," that is, reset according to Unix permission-speak, so this is a most welcome change.

3. Safari Audio. Have you ever found yourself desperately rummaging around Safari's tabs trying to squash a renegade video whose audio is driving you crazy? In El Capitan, any tab that is playing audio will have a sound icon in the tab itself. Just click to kill the audio. Or click the blue icon in the address bar. You don't even have to search the tabs.

This is classic example of how evolving technology requires changes to our user interface. Thanks Apple.

4. Menu bar hide. On MacBooks with limited display sizes, every pixel counts. So if we can hide the Dock, why not hide the Menu bar? It's always there if you need it—just slide the cursor to the top of the display and the Menu bar springs back into view. I think I'll turn this essential option on and leave it.

There are many more new user interface features in El Capitan, including refinements to Exposé and Search, but these four features immediately stand out in my mind as enduring UI refinements that will become signature features of this new release.

Further Reading

There is one feature of El Capitan I'm not so excited about. "OS X El Capitan’s Split View Is Just Plain Silly." On the other hand, there are some nice improvements under the hood with security and networking. "Important New Features Make OS X El Capitan Not Just a Tune-up."

El Capitan Release Date

Apple says OS X El Capitan will be released "in the fall" which gives them until December 21, but my guess, based on historical data, is mid-October. If you want to download the public beta, mindful of all the caveats about installing beta software on a mission critical Mac, you can try it out today.