OS X 10.11 El Capitan is out now - here's how to get it

OS X 10.11 El Capitan
El Capitan is a promising upgrade indeed

If you've been waiting patiently to get Apple's new Mac operating systemOS X 10.11 El Capitan – you don't have to wait any long: the latest desktop OS is available to download right now.

Named after a granite rock formation in Yosemite Valley, El Cap emerged a short time ago. If you want to get hold of the OS, all you have to do is follow these simple instructions:

First of all, make sure that your Mac can run El Capitan. Compatibility is exactly the same as it was with the previous version, OS X 10.10 Yosemite, so if your machine runs that, you'll have nothing to worry about.

The exact list of compatible Macs according to Apple is as follows:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminium, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)

Bear in mind that there's also a requirement on the software front, namely that you must be running Snow Leopard or better to be able to upgrade. If you have a previous incarnation of OS X to Snow Leopard, you won't have the Mac App Store which is required to download El Capitan.

If you do have the store, open it, and then select the Updates tab. This is where you'll find the El Capitan download, which is a completely free upgrade – it really is as easy as that.

The upgrade process should run smoothly, but just in case it doesn't, make double sure that you backup your Mac before installing El Capitan.

Big improvements

So what can you expect from Apple's new desktop OS? We've outlined the main changes in our In Pictures: OS X 10.11 El Capitan article, and they include improvements to Spotlight, a slicker Mission Control, and pinned tabs for Safari, along with a split screen view that allows for the use of two apps simultaneously, side-by-side.

For those interested in comparisons with Microsoft's latest OS, check out our El Capitan versus Windows 10 square-off.

Aside from the new features, OS X 10.11 will be much faster, with graphics rendering speeds expected to be increased by up to 50%, and up to 40% higher rendering efficiency will be delivered.

Also, apps will launch some 1.4 times faster according to Apple, and both app switching and email opening will be twice as fast compared to Mavericks.

In other words, both desktop performance and games should see a major and very welcome boost.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).