Mac users: If you’re still holding out, should you upgrade to El Capitan?

BANNER Apple Mac OS X El Capitan 640x400Apple released OS X 10.11 El Capitan in September 2015, with the promise of “refining the experience and improving performance in lots of little ways.” That’s marketing speak for “you may not notice hardly any difference.” But just because the changes are minor doesn’t make the decision to upgrade any easier. Here’s why.

For the most part, El Capitan hasn’t caused compatibility problems, and most of those that did crop up immediately have been resolved…

On the one hand, you shouldn’t worry about El Capitan’s new features being hard to learn. Split View is the only truly new feature, and by merely clicking and holding the green zoom button in a window, you can assign it to a side of your screen, after which you can pick another window to occupy the other half. Other new features, such as expanded Spotlight searches, the shake-to-zoom feature for finding the lost pointer, more swipe gestures in Mail, the capability to mute tabs in Safari and pin other tabs so they can’t be closed accidentally, and an all-new Notes app, are all easy to figure out and at least moderately useful.

On the other hand, if whatever version of OS X you’re using now is working fine, why mess with it? If it ain’t broke… For the most part, El Capitan hasn’t caused compatibility problems, and most of those that did crop up immediately have been resolved, either by updates from other developers or by subsequent minor updates, which fixed nasty crashing problems experienced by Microsoft Office 2016 users.

Nevertheless, upgrading to El Capitan may require you to update many of your applications, and if you’re relying on a significantly older version of expensive software, like Adobe Creative Suite, it’s hard to justify even a free operating system upgrade if it comes with lots of hidden app upgrade costs.

Here, then, is the answer. First, don’t upgrade until you’ve talked it over with whoever helps you with technical problems you can’t solve on your own. (If you purchased your Mac from Connecting Point, call or drop in to talk it over with us.) There’s never any harm in waiting for Apple and other developers to fix more bugs.

But you will have to upgrade eventually, and that’s particularly true if you use an iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 and want to sync Notes between them. An El Capitan upgrade will also give you certain useful features in the included Apple apps, such as geotagging and editing extensions in Photos, and transit directions in Maps. And if something were to happen to your Mac and you had to buy a new one, it would come with El Capitan, so you don’t want to be caught flat-footed with incompatible software and a looming deadline.

So yes, do upgrade to El Capitan once you’ve been given the go-ahead by your tech, and do it on your own terms and your own schedule. It’s not hard, but if you’re anxious about it, an ebook called Take Control of Upgrading to El Capitan will walk you through the entire process.

Apple debuts OS X Yosemite public beta

Today, Apple released a beta version of the next version of its Mac operating system, OS X Yosemite. Yosemite was announced and previewed at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in June; the official release is slated for sometime this fall.

As Information Week says:

Participating in Apple’s OS X Beta Program — which is distinct from the Beta Seed Program for Mavericks — is free, but there may be non-monetary costs, such as time or data lost due to crashed applications. Apple warns the OS X Yosemite Beta “may contain errors or inaccuracies and may not function as well as commercially released software.”

Another cost comes in the form of silence: Apple considers its beta software confidential and forbids beta testers from posting screenshots or discussing the software publicly. By agreeing to Apple’s Beta Program terms, testers promise to take reasonable steps to keep Apple’s software confidential, such as shielding the screen of a Mac running OS X Yosemite from onlookers.

If, after all that, you’re still interested in participating in the development of the next generation of Mac operating systems, you can sign up for the public beta here.

SOFTWARE UPDATE: Apple releases OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.3 Update

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Time to go under your Apple menu and select Software Update.

Yesterday, Apple released a substantial update to Mountain Lion. Mac OS X v10.8.3 Update adds several new features (including the ability to install Windows 8 under Boot Camp, support for 3TB hard drives under Boot Camp, and a new version of Safari) and squashes a few bugs. It’s recommended for all Mountain Lion users.

If you’re interested in details, read all about the update here.