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Articles: Oh Capitan, My Capitan

When I first heard the announcement for the Apple OS that would replace my beloved Yosemite, I laughed.

El Capitan? Really? What an absurd name, I thought.

That until a customer (much more knowledgable than me) told me it was the name of a peak in Yosemite National Park. It made much more sense after that.

Still, even when I thought the name was silly, I was greatly impressed by the new features about which Apple boasted in their Keynote.

New Features in El Capitan (OS 10.11):

  • Split screen to view two apps side-by-side

  • Calling out your lost cursor

  • Streamlined Mission Control

  • Cool new features in Spotlight

  • Updates in Notes...Mail...Photos….and so much more!

Normally I wait for a few version revisions before making the switch to a major upgrade, but I was too excited about El Capitan to wait. Plus, as the technical support specialist for PowerMax, it was my duty to upgrade immediately for the benefit of my customers.

After all, my advice is similar to Apple’s when it comes to OS and apps: must stay up-to-date as much as your workflow/software allows because technology is on a constant march forward into the future with better and faster applications and hardware for all. However, that's not always in the best interest of individual customers, so I give more specific advice on a case-by-case basis.

Still, many of my customers still use Snow Leopard (OS 10.6), five major OS versions behind the current one (10.11). Since PowerMax sells not only new but also used computers, it's important to know the benefits of many OS versions, as well as what particular machines can handle when it comes to hardware and software.

My machine can handle it. I have 8GB RAM in my 2009 Macbook Pro and a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Since El Capitan only needs 2GB (although I wouldn't recommend running it on any less than 4GB), I knew it would run just fine. And it does, for the most part, but it is indeed buggy. For example, I've had trouble with the split screen in many applications. When I'm using Open Office in split screen, it often freezes, giving me no other option than to force quit the application.

I've also be fielding many, many tech calls of late with customers having difficulty downloading and installing El Capitan. I mean, a lot of calls. Since PowerMax also sells used computers, many of our customers are able to buy an affordable Apple computer by buying a used one. However, not all of them do the necessary research as to what it takes to run El Capitan before attempting a download. Even those who have computers than can handle this latest version of OS X are still having some trouble downloading and installing.

So if you're considering an upgrade to El Capitan, take all this into consideration and decide if it's worth the risk. 

Upgrading to El Capitan is easy as long as you have at least Snow Leopard (v.10.6.8) or higher, it's a free download from the App Store. All you need is a valid Apple ID, at least 2GB RAM (I recommend at least 4GB), and one of the following machines (or newer): 

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Similar to the RAM, however, I don't recommend trying to run it on the bare minimum if you'd like to have a good experience with it. If I were you, I'd add a year to each of the above models before trying to run El Capitan.

Additionally, I'd recommend you wait until the New Year to download El Capitan. By then they will have more of the bugs worked out. We're currently at 10.11.1, so I would wait until 10.11.3 before attempting an upgrade, unless you're like me and you just can't wait.  



ChristineChristine is a Technical Support Specialist and Content Writer for PowerMax. Follow her articles as she posts great Tech Tips, helping you get the most of your Mac apps as well as write about some common technical issues and how to fix them. Find what you’re looking for in the categories on the right.

If you have a tech question or issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine for help.

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