While some physical improvements with Spotlight, Photos, Safari, and other Apple apps are definitely welcome with today's new OS X release, perhaps the most exciting aspect of El Capitan are the under-the-hood improvements for performance gains. There’s no need to explain how time-saving performance upgrades can be for working professionals — and for those reasons, everyone will want to update immediately. But there are some things to always take into consideration before an operating system upgrade.
OS X El Capitan reviews are already coming in incredibly strongly in favor of upgrading. MacWorld says, “The days of dramatic operating-system updates are over. El Capitan is as solid as the giant granite monolith that towers over Yosemite Valley. Upgrade, and get an improved Mac. It’s really that simple.”
But for working professionals, the most important aspect of technology is the ability to use it. And that means software compatibility is not something they can wait for or take a chance on. So is your pro software ready for El Capitan?
While an Adobe contact was not available for immediate contact, an Adobe spokesperson via the company’s support website was unclear, but seemed confident that compatibility won’t be an issue when the El Capitan update hits later today. At first, the support specialist wrote that Adobe CC products are not currently compatible with El Capitan. Later in the conversation, however, he said that when OS X is updated, Adobe CC will work with the new operating system. Yes, this is confusing. I’m cautiously optimistic, however. And this article will be updated as confirmations are received one way or another (El Capitan was just released, so I will be installing it and reporting on my personal compatibility experiences in an update for this article later today).
Apart from Adobe and Apple applications, there are plenty of other applications that professionals rely on every day. By default, many of these should work with El Capitan in most cases purely because of the fact that the operating system is still so similar to its predecessor. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be smaller incompatibilities that create to critical bugs for certain features within these other programs that could put a halt to all mission critical work.
App compatibility aside, El Capitan features a number of performance and feature improvements that make it a no-brainer upgrade. The Wall Street Journal even gave the new operating system rave reviews, calling it “a free tune-up for your Mac” after seeing real-world performance improvements of over 20 to 50 percent in times for opening files and applications.
Final Cut Pro and other current Apple apps will benefit from Metal, which helps shift certain tasks the processor would normally do to the GPU. But third-party apps like Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of photography, video, and audio editing apps were promised improvements thanks to Metal back in June during El Capitan’s announcement keynote that we have yet to see.
Either way, those looking to upgrade should always back up their systems just before they do so. For those of us with Thunderbolt ports and faster hard drives, the worst-case situation would require a full restore from a backup that could easily have the computer up and running just as it was in less than an hour depending on how much data is on the internal hard drive and just how fast the backup drive is. So there are certainly ways to perform an upgrade “more safely” for those concerned about breaking installed applications that they rely on.
Of course, initial impressions of a new OS X El Capitan installation may seem lackluster, as additional Spotlight indexing and other background processes may need to do some CPU-hogging work for a few hours. So don’t be surprised if your machine doesn’t seem as snappy as expected in the first few minutes. After a few hours (or days, depending on your machine and how much data you have on it), your Mac should be running smoother and more quickly with El Capitan — all the guys that would know say so.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan is a free operating system upgrade that came out a few minutes ago and is still in the process of rolling out to all users. Those looking to jumpstart the process can visit the direct download link.
UPDATE: Preliminary tests with Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC seem to indicate everything works as one would hope. However, there was/is still no specific update to "enable" any kind of additional compatibility. It is possible that a previous update a while back may have already included enhancements for El Capitan compatibility or, alternatively, that an update is still coming to address minor issues that have not yet surfaced.
For those wondering, the operating system seems snappier, despite fans running quite a bit at first to (I imagine) cool the computer as it rebuilds various caches, etc. One added note: a personal favorite feature of mine is the improved contextual Spotlight search that lets me type something like, "Keynote from yesterday," and have it pull up the Keynote presentation I was working on -- you guessed it -- yesterday. Very, very useful (especially when you forget exactly what you named a file).
UPDATE 2: It looks like most of Adobe's Creative Cloud/Creative Suite apps are working just fine except for those tethering with Nikon or Leica cameras to programs like Lightroom. This is a known issue according to Adobe, and they currently recommend holding off on updating if tethering these brands are critical to your workflow. Additionally, CaptureOne is having some issues working properly as well as Logic Pro and numerous other professional apps. Essentially, continue to use caution and numerous backup procedures/fail-safes if you want to update on a production machine (or, take the safe route and just wait until the developers of your software say it's safe to update).