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OS X El Capitan hands-on: Small enhancements make a big difference

by Brandon Russell | June 8, 2015June 8, 2015 8:20 pm PST

One of the most beautiful monoliths in the entire world is now the name of Apple’s desktop software. Announced on Monday, El Capitan is the new OS X update coming this fall, and while it doesn’t offer any sweeping redesigns or major improvements to the foundation of Apple’s software, it makes some much-needed refinements, especially for power users.

Much of what’s new is taking place under the hood; with the introduction of Metal, for example, games and apps will have near-direct access to the graphics processor on your Mac, meaning you’ll get enhanced performance and a much richer experience overall. Apps should launch faster; PDFs can be scrolled more smoothly, and jumping from app to app shouldn’t be so stutter-y.

Metal might not be something consumers initially care about right out of the gate, but it should be something they notice after months of use. All that time saving adds up, making you a more productive person throughout the day (or giving you more time to waste).

There are a few other big features, too, like tab pinning in Safari, and improved full-screen support in Mail. Spotlight promises to be smarter and more versatile, too; Spotlight can understand more natural language, and the window is also resizable now, which is an added bonus.

Mission Control has been streamlined as well, so it’s easier to see and organize your open applications. Again, nothing major here, but small refinements that will make a difference over time. And I don’t want to overstate this, but it’s now much easier to call on your cursor. Just shake your mouse and the cursor will embiggen, making it easier to find. I don’t know how many times I’ve been unable to find my cursor, only to find it after furiously shaking my mouse for a few seconds.

To see El Capitan in action, check out the video above. As always, the new software will launch this fall as a free update.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.