Read This Before You Install El Capitan

| Dr. Mac's Rants and Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #144

El Capitan (aka Mac OS X version 10.11) came out last week, but I’ve been working on OS X El Capitan For Dummies all summer, so I’ve been using it daily for months. I upgraded both of my Macs to the release version last week and I’m happy to report that both upgrades were as smooth as silk; in less than an hour I had both machines back at work without a single hiccup.

Which was a refreshing change from previous OS X releases, at least for me. Since I rely on more applications and utilities than most people, and operating system updates are notorious for breaking apps and utilities, I’m tickled that El Capitan is the first OS X release in recent memory that didn’t break at least one app or utility I can’t live without.

To be fair, it broke Default Folder X, a utility I like a lot… But I can live without it until a compatible version arrives (which will be, “as soon as possible,” according to the developer).

But... while my upgrade went smoothly, yours may not. So before I say another word about El Capitan, here’s my advice (which is the same advice I give you every year): You might want to wait for the inevitable point release (i.e. version 10.11.01), just in case. I have not heard of any major issues with the first release, but if history has shown us anything, it's that:

  • El Capitan version 10.11.01 will be along RealSoonNow™.


  • ​El Capitan version 10.11.01 will squash at least a few bugs.

Moving right along, when you do decide to upgrade, you should first make two complete backups of your boot disk. Next, test the disks before you upgrade, just in case. Finally, remember to leave plenty of time for troubleshooting, (say it with me), just in case.

Now, here are a few things you’re going to love about El Capitan when you install it:

As you know, El Capitan eschews flashy new features. Sure it’s got a new Split View, improved Spotlight searching, an overhauled Notes application, pinned tabs in Safari, and gestures in Mail, to name just a few. 

But since most of El Capitan’s improvements are under the hood, the big news is that El Capitan makes your Mac feels zippier overall, with many apps launching faster and feeling snappier. And the big surprise, at least for me, is that El Capitan has been more stable on both Macs so far than Yosemite ever was. I’ve yet to endure a single application or system crash, nor have I been forced to Force Quit an app yet. That’s impressive, especially for a point-zero release.      

And frankly, most of the visible new features don't do much for me personally. I have a 24-inch display connected to my MacBook Pro; with that much screen real estate, I don’t have much use for full-screen or split-screen modes, or Mission Control for that matter. The only time I use either is when I travel without my big screen, so while both Full/Split-screen and Mission Control are improved in El Capitan, they still don’t float my boat. As before, I don't expect I'll use them much unless I'm on the road. 

Spotlight searches, on the other hand, I use all the time and I love that natural language queries work (sometimes). But the best new Spotlight feature for me is that the Spotlight window is (finally) movable and resizable. What can I say? I have simple needs and a moveable and resizable Spotlight window was among them...  

OK, now for the big reveal: My very favorite new feature in El Capitan is the new “find your cursor” gesture. I’ve always used third-party utilities like Mouse Locator or Mouseposé to find my cursor in the million-plus-pixel mess on my displays. With El Capitan, however,  I merely wiggle my mouse (or my finger on the trackpad) and the cursor enlarges so I can easily find it on my screens. That’s progress (and one less utility I have to run in the background).

Mousepose (left), El Capitan* (center), Mouse Locator (right)
*The El Capitan cursor is simulated since none of my utilities could capture it...

And that’s all he wrote…

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Read This Before You Install El Capitan

OK but about three days too late.
Fortunatly everything worked perfectly.


Obviously experiences vary for every user. For me, this has been by far the worst OS X update experience. Beach balls galore, every thing is slower. I don’t really see any benefit to it. Hopefully the point updates will fix some things, but on the whole I give this one a thumbs down.

Lee Dronick

As Geoduck say, a few days too late smile

Seriously I did backups before installing. It seems like a fine update, no problems thus far. It did want to rebuild my iCloud files, I am not sure what that was all about.


El Cap broke a Mail configuration that I’d set up whereby my iCloud email is sent using another ID and SMTP server.  It set the email back to iCloud and it freezes if I tried to edit it back.

Except for the freezes, I think this is all intentional because it is similar to how Mail accounts work in iOS.  I had to disable the iCloud Mail account and create an IMAP version instead.


A couple 9of possibilities: Your system might have an issue, iffy drive, funky RAM, something like that that ElCap brought out. Secondly you might not have enough RAM. They say 2GB minimum. 4 would be better. I have 16. The other possibility is that your system might be on the ragged bottom end of qualifying. My ‘12 MacBook Pro is happy, but older systems can “run” it but maybe not well. Check tocheck this.


El Capitan has turned out to be a nice upgrade. Not a mind blowing set of new features obviously, but certainly enough to make most folks say, “Thanks, Apple!”

The two biggest features for me have been snappier UI ( jumping into Mission Control, other windowing functions always came with a stutter step in Yosemite, on my 2009 Mac Pro). Everything operates noticeably more quickly and smoothly in El Cap. Also, Mission Control, which is VASTLY superior than the way it has been implemented from 10.6/10.7-on… which almost seems like (finally!) a somewhat-admission from Apple that years of “throw all windows on a grid regardless of original spatial orientation, stack it all by application” was a counter-productive interface. I would suspect that most people don’t spend much time fiddling around with Spaces, so initially presenting them with minimalist name tags to free up a bit of screen real estate is a smart tweak.


I lost the font I use in my business letterhead.  It worked in all previous versions.  It is a Fluent Laser Font (try type font).  Broke it across 5 macs.  The font displays properly, but I get squares when printing.


That sounds like a printer driver issue.


oneof52: That is curious. Fonts are actually little “software packets” and contain two resources: a display file for viewing on screen, and a print resource. It goes without saying that the print resource of your font is either damaged (which does occasionally happen with fonts), or missing. Are you sure it’s not a Postscript font? Those are still usable by the OS, but are essentially deprecated… Postscript fonts also keep the print & screen resources as separate files (unlike Truetype or Opentype, which house all resources in a single container file), and it’s quite possible that the print file did not get copied over in the System Library folder when El Capitan was installed.


Two days later for me as well. The first day or so, many spinning beach balls, lots of delays, and my Macbook Pro ran very hot with the fan on almost all the time. Then day three (yesterday) everything settled down and now its very smooth and fast. My machine is from 2008 so I assume I am on the low side of specs, but its super now. I guess it was scanning and indexing the first day or so. Hang in there if its slow and clunky!


Working very good here as well.  Late 2012 iMac went from daily-plus kernel panics to none.

Only one minor issue.  Had some customizing inside System/Library which isn’t allowed anymore, even with an admin password.  Guess the security has good intentions, but it’s like getting locked out of your own residence. smile


Updated my MacBook Air with little issue. Default Folder doesn’t work but St. Clair is working on a new version. So not a show stopper.

But for my iMac… I installed El Capitan without issue but Logitech’s keyboard and mouse no longer worked. Switching back to a wired keyboard and Apple mouse was find (at least temporarily).

Unfortunately, upon restart a few hours later, all the iMac did was hang on the start up screen. Hard restart and the same thing. Booted off my back up drive and reckoned it back to the iMac hard drive after reformatting.

I think I’ll wait to try again after Logitech and Default Folder and Apple release updates.

Lee Dronick

but Logitech’s keyboard and mouse no longer worked.

Fulton, do Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse work, assuming that you have them. I ask because last you the Bluetooth on my old iMac up and died. I had a wired keyboard, but had to find a wired mouse and they seem to be getting scarce; I found one in a bargain bin. I did buy myself a new iMac.


@Lee Dronick,
I don’t know if Apple’s wireless keyboard/mouse works. But would assume they do. I had a wired Apple keyboard and a wired Apple mouse handy so used them. I searched about the Logitech products not working and tried a couple of work arounds.

I eventually got the Logitech Bluetooth (wireless) keyboard working, but not the mouse. I was thinking that a restart might do the trick and whamo! Failed to restart so I reverted back to my back up.


Oh, that headline seems crafted for maximum FUD.

For me, the big change for El Cap is System Integrity Protection which is what ‘broke’ your Default Folder X and is causing the most trouble for some developers. I like it. Nobody messes with my file permissions of can tinker around in the most important parts of my system.

I’ve been running 10.11 since July and agree with Jason Snell that it’s “solid as a rock.” They never did come out with a 10.11.01. I’m running 10.11.1 now.


Deleted old font and reinstalled.  No problems.


Updated two iMacs…  the newer on (5k) went flawlessly,  the five year old iMac….  Not so much.  Started update and kept getting an error of Can’t upgrade because some packages weren’t present… or something to that effect.  But from there it wouldn’t let me cancel… only start the cycle over again.  Restarted with option key down and no original start up to the old operating system was available.  The only option was to wipe the drive clean and restore from a Time Machine Back-up of the newer iMac.  Wasn’t happy about that, at all….


Bob LeVitus

Leoooooo: I didn’t intend to foster fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) with that headline! I merely wanted to insure that readers back up (twice) before pulling the trigger.

Sorry for any misunderstanding. grin


I have to mention about an issue I had with El Captain. I have a mid 2009 model MacBook (pre-unibody) which according to Apple’s website fits the required hardware and software (it was running Yosemite) for the upgrade. I ran the upgrade this past Tuesday and when I got on the computer the next time (which was a day and a half later since I was out and about the next day), the computer kept acting funny at startup. The chimes kept going off and the progress bar wasn’t progressing. It just kept going back to the beginning. Of course I should have known this would happen because it was acting kinda slow when I upgraded on Tuesday. Apple tried to help and we THOUGHT we had it fixed but it started late that night so I had to take matters into my own hands…I did a clean reinstall (Thank God that you can get OS updates via stable wi-fi) and now it’s running so smoothly. So this is a warning for all you users of the MacBook that is not the newer one…back up your files (which I did) and opt for the clean reinstall. You’ll thank yourself later.

Magdalena Wojciechowska

I have spent 2 month rescuing my beloved MacBook Pro 17 ” (2009) from the Yosemite curse. My hard drive crushed, there was no cursor, no side bar to go up and down, Pages disappeared with Microsoft office, iMovie crushed, no icons on the right hand side, I had to buy a new printer, my pictures disappeared - to list a few “glitches.  The latest call to Apple support and being unable to access “shared screen”  left me angry since I have been “Apple” since 1984. Right now I have been pestered to “download”  El Capitan - are you kidding me!  When I read McWorld’s reviews,  I realized that Apple has been doing “promotional/pretty” OS releases rather than substantial and working ones. Apple is no longer interested in Macs - this ship had sailed (sob)!

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