OS X El Capitan review roundup: The refinements make it a worthwhile upgrade

OS X El Capitan logo

On September 30, Apple will release its latest version of its OS X desktop platform to the masses. This time around it’s called El Capitan, and the reviews are coming in ahead of the software’s launch.

El Capitan will arrive tomorrow, so it’s no surprise that the reviews are starting to find their way online. With the latest desktop software, Apple didn’t cram a ton of new features into it, instead focusing on refining and improving on what’s already available, while tweaking a few things here and there. There are new features, of course, including the arrival of Split View, which allows users to run two apps side-by-side. More than those new features, though, Apple has simply made what’s already present even better, improving stability and performance, and making some third-party apps that fixed missing features back in previous versions of the platform somewhat obsolete now.

The reviews aren’t shy about stating this is a “small” update in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a solid, worthwhile upgrade for any Mac owner that’s able to get the new version. Here’s the breakdown from several different publications:

The Verge

    “El Capitan takes the sorts of things that experts have been doing with third-party apps and utilities for years on the Mac and builds them right into the OS. Spotlight is becoming more than just a simple file search box. Window management is becoming easier. Notes is more than just a raw text box. Most of it left me nonplussed because all of these things didn’t feel new and different to me — I’ve been finding ways to fix all of those problems for years with third-party apps and add-ons. But with El Capitan, Apple’s made the learning curve you usually have to climb to become a “power user” (whatever that is) much more gradual.”

The Wall Street Journal

    “Unlike last year’s OS X Yosemite, the latest version of Apple’s Mac operating system isn’t teeming with new features and a whole new look. Instead, El Capitan refines the things that matter most in a computer: how fast our apps work and how fast we can work with so many of them open. Even the name symbolizes the fine-tuning: El Capitan is but a peak within Yosemite National Park.

    Sure, there are some worthwhile updates to Apple’s Notes, Photos and Mail apps themselves, but the most significant difference I’ve seen has been to my computer’s speed… and mine.”


    “OS X El Capitan feels like a modest update after last year’s Yosemite release, which ushered in a flat, new design and tighter integration with iOS. If you enjoyed what Yosemite had to offer, you’ll appreciate the tweaks here, however minor they may seem.”


    “El Capitan, named after the large granite rock formation inside Yosemite National Park, is very much a refined version of OS X Yosemite, a recognizable progression from its predecessor. (In iPhone terms, it would be Yosemite S.) Apple says this update is all about a refined experience and improved performance. But it’s traditional for Apple to take its no-big-deal updates and pour in a bunch of new features anyway, and El Capitan is no exception. This is a packed release, but one that makes sense as a follow-up to Yosemite.”

In the end, the consensus seems to be that while Apple chose not to pack this new release with a ton of new features, that’s not inherently a bad thing. The alterations and upgrades that Apple did implement are certainly worth the upgrade.

Do you plan on upgrading to El Capitan when it releases on September 30?