PSA: What You Need to Know Before Upgrading to OS X 10.11 El Capitan Today

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.

Check out Gizmodo’s latest article for a quick read on some of El Capitan’s newest feature additions. For a more thorough look, Engadget has you covered.

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).

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Tam Nguyen's picture

Adobe not playing nice with Apple and vice versa. What's new?

Adam Ottke's picture

I think they're playing nice now more than ever... But we'll see... :-)

Sean Molin's picture

Absolutely. At the iPad Pro announcement Adobe was a featured speaker. They've also announced FULL ports for Lightroom and Photoshop for iOS.

Randy Gentry's picture

I worry the most about Canon EOS Utility software because they have had trouble in the past.

Andrew Strother's picture

Just upgraded and Photoshop launched and seems to be working just fine. Actually, it was the first time in a month that a Creative Cloud app launched without an error saying that my membership couldn't be verified, so that was cool. Photoshop also ran better than the CC 2015 release ever had before; until EC it would hang and freeze during basic usage with the smallest of files. So far so good.

That being said, the LG Ultrawide monitor I use no longer seems to be passing its USB ports through to my laptop, so that's bad.

Adam Ottke's picture

Thanks for sharing, Andrew. Hopefully people will continue to comment with similar experiences so we get somewhat of a crowd-sourced idea of what works and what doesn't...

Andrew Strother's picture

Only issue I've had in the last month is that the latest Photoshop update from Adobe was suddenly running very poorly and would often lag when trying to do simple tasks. This would happen pretty much every time I tried to use that particular revision of Photoshop. Don't know if it's the latest update from Adobe or OSX 10.11 that has fixed the issue but it's gone.

My issue was very clearly an Adobe problem, so I'm not exactly sure what your "Apple people are funny" comment is supposed to mean. Then again, I'm never really sure what any of your comments are supposed to mean so I don't find my confusion all that distressing.

Andrew Strother's picture

Man, that's a lot of quotation marks.

Andrew Strother's picture

You seem to have a lot of Apple anger that you're projecting onto me, might be worth looking into that sometime.

Software bugs happen, it was annoying but didn't cause me any real issues. I just reported it to Adobe and downgraded to the prior version until an update was issued.

In my 7 years working on Macs, I've only had a similar issue once, that was with Adobe Premiere and they put out an update within a week so it wasn't a big deal.

Andrew Strother's picture

Nah it's not personal for me, it's the Internet, it's pretty much the definition of impersonal. When you include me in the grouping of "you people", you make it about me.

At least I think that's what you said. I have to be honest, the amount of weird punctuation and symbol usage you employ makes it extremely difficult to decipher your comments, so I often have to make my best guess.

P.S. definitely give Windows 10 a try. 7 was good, 8 was awful, but 10 is pretty fantastic.

Andrew Strother's picture

Elipses, quotation marks, hyphens, apostrophes, etc.

You said you use Windows 7, I was simply sharing that Windows 10 is a really great update and worth playing around with.

Andrew Strother's picture

Per Adobe's suggestion, I installed the prior version of Photoshop and went on my merry way until and update was released.

Andrew Strother's picture

It's working fine now. Very strange. Probably just needed to do a restart with it unplugged then plug it back in after boot.

barry munsterteiger's picture

if you have a email address and you use the client you will be forced to use the equivalent/associated address. as of now there is no workaround.

Adam Ottke's picture

Maybe to log in...but does that break functionality when it comes to people sending you emails to the address??? That's a scary thought (and really not smart on Apple's part). And if that sticks, it only goes to question the future of the addresses with the newer ones...

barry munsterteiger's picture

email sent to addresses will still arrive, but all replies going outbound will be from a address. Any new email being composed cannot be sent from the domain. trying to modify the preferences to read will cause the mail app to hang and not be able to close the preference panel

barry munsterteiger's picture

I found that if I deleted the icloud account from the internet accounts in System Preferences and re-added it I was then able to send as a email address.

Spy Black's picture

If you are a sadomasochist, then by all means be the first kid on your block with the latest and greatest OS update. If you're a professional however, move along now, nothing to see here...

Eric Duminil's picture

True. Every single software update promises "improved performance", but I can't remember any time it's been true and verifiable. I do remember the Lion update as being the worst ever, though. Everything was slow and broken afterwards.
There's really no need to update today.

Adam Ottke's picture

Lion was a bit more of an update than El Capitan is, as it focused more on added features and UI as opposed to refining and optimizing what was already there. In every "mid" upgrade like Snow Leopard (from Leopard), Mountain Lion (from Lion), and now El Captian (from Yosemite), the speed, performance, and reliability ratings were fairly standard in that they were all better across the board... Reviews indicate that aside from software compatibility today (which most developers will fix in the coming days/weeks), this is worth upgrading. And they have measured improvements in app start-up and file open times...

Spy Black's picture

Yes, but as a professional, do you want to deal with software compatibility issues just to be the first kid on the block with a new toy? Do you have work to do?

Personally I work on a Windows platform, and I'm still on Windows 7. Why? Because it's stable, and "just works", to borrow a comic punchline. The only time I will update to a new OS is when the software I rely on requires it, and only after any issues have all been sorted out. I have no need for shiny new anything, I need trustworthy resources that deliver, day in and day out. I have work to do.

Adam Ottke's picture

No, I don't want to rely on that ;-) At the same time, I like to find a balance of what software that I NEED works on the OS I'm running and also benefiting from the performance and feature enhancements of the latest OS. Sometimes I have to wait a while, other times I don't. So I chose to upgrade as soon as I discovered Lightroom and Photoshop were mostly okay... For an audio professional, I'd imagine they'd wait some time before upgrading (at least until Logic had an update)...

Randy Smith's picture

Really? No I notice the difference in performance . Always update day one and never regret it.

LA M's picture

Updated my Mac Pro Late 2013 yesterday and everything works as advertised including Adobe LR/PS. FCP seems a bit snappier but that could just be my rebuilt G-Speed Studio RAID array doing it's thing. My 4K monitor is scaling perfectly issues with this update for me.

Sergio Tello's picture

CS6 works just fine. I have been using it for about 6 hours now. It just works.

ken weil's picture

I have been trying to instal this garbage for a month now since the GM version. And tonight. All i get is error on install, after downloading the whole thing. I contacted apple support but who knows if that will get anywhere.

Adam Ottke's picture

What is your error on install? Something went wrong for me the very first time when I tried to install the first developer beta. But this one worked fine for me. It did take seemingly forever to shut down the computer when it was restarting to do the installation. I was worried it froze. But I waited it out and it worked out okay...

Adam Ottke's picture

Not long at all, actually ;-) And I do it for different reasons, obviously...

Adam Ottke's picture

The nice thing about our Macs with our 2GB/s SSDs is that "seemingly forever" is a two-minute shutdown. Not a big deal...

Charlie Clift's picture

Capture One Pro?
Will this work at full functioning with the update? It's key to many photographers workflows that it does still work well and with all cameras. I'm guessing it's best to wait until Phase release a update specifically for this? Does anyone know more?

dnjimage dnj's picture

Capature one with latest updates dos not working properly, keeps freezing on Imac, no problem on mac pro laptop at least so far but I did not test to its full so I would recomend to wait until capture one will announce suport for el captain.

Adam Ottke's picture

Yeah...for me, it doesn't even seem to want to open the window, really. CaptureOne 7 won't even open a window. And on one open, I got a "quit unexpectedly" dialogue, and then it didn't even quit... Weird. So no: don't upgrade to El Capitan if you use CaptureOne 7 (which is the previous version to the current one, 8...maybe it works better -- but still not perfectly -- with CaptureOne 8 as suggested above).

dnjimage dnj's picture

updatet yesterday my Imac 27 retina and went back, cos photoshop cc looks like working good but when you trying to zoom in or out using scrubby zoom function it starts freezing for a second before working, it warks fine on my mac pro laptop. Capature one with latest updates dos not working properly, keeps freezing on Imac, no problem on mac pro laptop. Don't know where is a problem but I hope it will be fixt soon. Until now I will be stying with the old one on my dectop for working. does enyone have same isuses? Sorry for my english :)

DeWitt Eaton's picture

Phase One knows of the issues and sent me this link:

dnjimage dnj's picture

It took me about 5-6 hours, I restore my system from time machine.

dnjimage dnj's picture

well yes when it hets sorted out, but so far even with new updates from adobe the photoshop zooming stil glichy cos I'm testing OS x El Captain on my laptop, and so far not inprest cos with a lot software with which i do my photography work i get an issues. I think I will wait for a bit until I will do instal it on my primary pc.

Michael Comeau's picture

NEVER immediately update to a new OS. Let other people be the guinea pigs.

hud1ai2's picture

And good feature for me! :) Now the LR works as fullscreen app (mean it has its own desktop).

Sefan Zed's picture

Poorly researched article, considering that just about every pro-audio app (including Logic) is totally broken by the El Capitan update. Obviously the author is just cheerleading without doing the research.

Slarti Bartfast's picture

If you choose to be *that* critical, doesn't the author deserve to see your sources? Do you have links to back that statement up?

Adam Ottke's picture

I thought I gave plenty of warnings about backing up so you can upgrade safely with a fallback plan and made points about still being cautious of upgrading immediately if you have critical work to do... If other people think I should add more of a warning, I will consider it. But I thought I made it fairly clear that, while it's speedier, application compatibility is still up in the air...

LA M's picture

You don't need to explain yourself to that guy. Anyone upgrading some thing as critical involving OS X should research to ensure the applications they use are properly supported. Every major company has been putting out releases about this for weeks now.

k v's picture

don’t upgrade if you use a brother multi function unit to scan to your email. no updates available till at least the end of the month or later!

samuel pettersson's picture

Been running el capitan beta from the start and am now on The final version. For me only one adobe-related problem. Tethering with d800 to lightroom is broken. Camera won't detect. I have confirmed this with other users, so it's not just me. Hopefully an Adobe update gets this fixed. But that's really the only thing ive found. Otherwise everything works great for me.

Chris Biele's picture

It's a definite no go for Nikon / Leica right now. And just when I was about to tether to LR for the first time. Good thing I still have Aperture! Works like a charm.

alberto cabrera's picture

I have been using the beta test version. Adobe CC works fine. The issues I been having has been flash (not a surprise) being consistent. A few bugs with firefox and my real concern has being Apple TV and mirroring from a MBP.

DeWitt Eaton's picture

I've experienced constant crashing of Capture One Pro 8 since upgrading. Hope it gets fixed quickly. Like a Dope, I upgraded during a break in completing a project. Also, I'd hoped that essential (for me) apps like "XtraFinder" would be a thing of the past with this update. Not only is Finder still tedious to use, but Apple has now blocked system files that XtraFinder used to make life so pleasant! Boo, Apple. Other than these two issues things are ok.

Adam Ottke's picture

There's an article somewhere about various system files that El Captian blocks and how to unblock them (in a legit way -- Apple still gives you the option, but apparently now blocks these files by default). Let me look for it...

Adam Ottke's picture

This is different than the original article I read, but maybe this will work:

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