The 10 Best OS X 10.11 El Capitan features

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 30 Sep 2015

OS X El Capitan logoOS X 10.11 El Capitan builds upon the changes Apple introduce in OS X 10.10 Yosemite. While Yosemite offered major changes, El Capitan takes a more conservative approach, introducing only a handful of new features. Most of the improvements in OS X 10.11 occurs underneath the hood with performance tweaks that make a noticeable improvement in the OS.

Performance improvements

OS X El Capitan features across the board performance improvements that improves the speed of everyday tasks, gaming and everything in between. According to Apple, OS X apps launch up to 1.4x faster, app switching is 2x faster, Mail displays 2X faster, and PDFs appear in preview 4x faster. On the graphics side of performance, Metal for Mac will improve the graphics performance in games and in other apps designed to take advantage of the graphics technology.

San Francisco Font


Introduced in 2014 as the new font for the Apple Watch, Apple’s San Francisco font has made its way to iOS 9, the keyboard on the new MacBook and now finally to OS X EL Capitan. San Francisco is designed specifically for smaller displays and looks great on the retina display. It is the first new typeface designed at Apple in almost 20 years

Mission Control Overhaul


Mission control is streamlined in OS X 10.11 with an improved view that allows you to see all the open windows in a single layer, making them easier to view. If you need additional room, simply drag one of the windows to the top of the screen and move it into a new desktop space. This app will open in full-screen view in its own desktop, leaving more room in the first desktop. Another helpful addition is the cursor find feature that enlarges the cursor when you move your finger back and forth across the trackpad quickly.

Split-View Windows


Similar to the iPad in iOS 9, the Mac in OS X 10.11 El Capitan now has an easy-to-use split screen view. The view automatically resizes two windows to occupy the entire screen. Just click and hold the green maximize button within a compatible app and drag the window to either the left or the right side of the screen. This will create one-half of the split screen view. Add another app to the second window by clicking on an open app. You can swap apps by clicking on the menu bar of the active app and dragging it to the other side of the screen.

Spotlight Search with natural language and new categories


Spotlight in OS X 10.11 is the recipient of a few improvements that make it easier to find what you need. The most noticeable change is the inclusion of weather, sports, stocks, web video, and transit information in the search results. You now also can search using natural language, which lets you type a question in the way you would say it. The Spotlight window itself is now adjustable, allowing you to resize it and move it anywhere you want.

Safari pinned sites, audio muting and more

image Safari pinned sites

Safari finally catches up with the competition with the addition of features such as pinned sites, which allows you to strengthen pin your favorites sites to the left of the tab bar. These sites stay open and are updated so you won’t miss a beat. Another handy Safari feature is the ability to mute audio that is playing in a Safari tab,. A small icon will appear in the tab that is generating the sound. Tapping that icon will mute the audio without further intervention. If you would like to mute other tabs, you can simply press the speaker icon on the right side of the address bar Video playback also is improved with new AirPlay support that allows you to playback just the video clip and not your entire screen.

Full screen Mail, swipe gestures and other improvements

image Apple Mail delete gesture

Two of Mail’s most noticeable visual changes include the improved full-screen view and support for swipe gestures. In full-screen view, composing and reading mail is significantly easier. When you are composing an email and need to switch to the inbox, the draft message drops to the bottom of the screen so you can view your inbox, copy text and more. There’s also tabs for email messages that allow you to switch easily between different email conversations. If you use an iPhone or iPad, you will love Mails new gesture support that allows you to swipe left to delete a message or swipe right to mark it as read. Last, but not least are subtle improvements in data detection, which scans your emails for contact information or dates and times. When these data types are detected, OS X will prompt you to add a date/time event to a calendar or a new contact to the address book.

Notes gets iOS 9-ified


Taking its cue from iOS 9, Notes in OS X now allows for rich text editing, checklists and an Attachments browser that lets you find notes with multimedia content. There’s also a new save feature that lets you save web page content from Safari and address information from Maps directly to a new Note

Organizing and adding Extensions to Photos


One the biggest changes to Photos for OS X support for extensions, which allows you to edit an image with a third-party tool inside of the Photos app. No longer are you limited to the default editing options of the Photos app, now in OS X El Capitan, you can select your favorite image editing software and open its suite of editing tools without leaving the Photos app. This feature must be supported by the OS X app in order for it to work. Organizing your photos also is a bit easier in the new Photos app thanks to a streamlined Faces workflow and new sorting options that let you sort albums by date, title and more.

Apple Maps transit directions


Transit directions in Apple Maps is another iOS 9 feature that is ported over to OS X El Capitan. Similar to its iOS 9 counterpart the OS X version of Maps now includes transit directions along with driving and walking directions. There’s also built-in public transportation maps, directions, and schedules.

What is your favorite OS X EL Capitan feature?

We’ve highlighted some of the major features in OS X El Capitan, and now we want to know which features are your favorite in OS X 10.11? Please share them in the comments below.