OS X 10.11 El Capitan Features

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OS X El Capitan focuses on under-the-hood performance improvements for the Macintosh. This article covers the changes and improvements in OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

Apple chose an appropriate location to name the new Mac operating system. El Capitan lies within Yosemite. Apple’s new Mac operating system offers many internal improvements to speed up your Mac, improve stability and boost battery life. El Capitan also adds some UI enhancements and new desktop functionality, however, the bulk of the improvements are internal.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan focuses on performance and user experience

Much like iOS 9, OS X El Capitan is more about stability and performance, and less about UI bells and whistles. The few UI enhancements are powerful and useful.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan user experience improvements

Find Pointer Easily in OS X El Capitan

When you first start your Mac, you may wiggle your finger over the trackpad to find the pointer. With OS X El Capitan, this action will enlarge the pointer so it can be easily found.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan wiggle cursor to enlarge

This may seem like a small UI enhancement, and it is. This underscores how little was done with the user experience. Of course, the more important internal features tend to make tech writers roll their eyes. Most tech writers and casual users only care about the shell of an operating system. The Apple keynotes, even at the WWDC, are targeted toward members of the media. It was a lackluster presentation, as Craig Federighi couldn’t spend much time on internal improvements. Many in the media said this was the most boring keynote ever. I am excited about the internal improvements, but they are difficult to demonstrate.

Mail Gets New Gestures in OS X 10.11 El Capitan

OS X has been slowly absorbing some of the iOS feature set. This makes sense. Different user experiences across products can confuse users. The OS X Mail app now offers gestures to simplify inbox management. Swipe right to mark an email as unread.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan swipe right to mark email as read

A left swipe presents the trash (delete) option.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan swipe left to delete email

Safari User Experience Improved in OS X El Capitan

There are already a few ways to bookmark websites. Safari for OS X 10.11 offers a new way to do this. Users can now pin a site below the address toolbar. This produces a smaller shortcut than a bookmark. This is not spectacular, but if you have a lot of bookmarks, it may prove helpful.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan Safari pinned sites

Pinned sites are also displayed on the favorites panel and load instantly.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan Safari pinned sites on Favorites panel

I assume this is accomplished by loading them in the background when you launch Safari. When you click a link on a pinned site, it will open in a new tab, by default. Think of pinned sites as bookmarks on steroids. Pinning frequently accessed sites will improve your overall Safari experience.

Safari offers a new feature to discover and mute audio streams in off-focus tabs. This solves the problem of unwanted audio playing in a tab. We’ve all been there. You have a bunch of tabs open, and audio starts playing in one. Now you can use the audio icon on the address bar to quickly mute the audio stream. You can also find which tab is playing the stream.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan Safari mute audio

It is now possible to use AirPlay directly within Safari. Simply click on the AirPlay icon to beam a web video to your Apple TV, without sharing the whole screen. Hopefully they will add this same functionality to QuickTime and the DVD Player.

Spotlight Gets Smarter in OS X El Capitan

Spotlight has come a long way from its humble beginnings. In El Capitan, it does a lot more than find files. The Spotlight panel is now much bigger and can be resized and positioned anywhere on the screen. Searching for a subject will display a variety of results, including files and data pulled from the Internet. For example, if you search for a sports team, Spotlight will present scores, game schedules and other related information.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan Spotlight displays sports information

Requests worded in plain English are now understood by Spotlight.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan Spotlight understands English queries

For example, if you type in “slides from brian about el capitan”, Spotlight can interpret the request and find the documents. This functionality is also directly embedded in apps like Mail and Finder. (continue…)

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