OS X "El Capitan"

Version 10.11

Highly recommended for all OS X El Capitan users who wish to protect their privacy

While this version has been improved to handle low RAM environments and with slightly better performance, Apple still wants to retain data in the inactive parts of RAM after quitting applications. In this way the OS can process and push the data to the Apple servers. Because of this privacy concern, you are strongly advised to download and run a manual or automatic (the most preferred option) RAM memory purging utility, from the list below:

  1. Boost&Memory 1.1.0 costs US$4.99.
  2. Dr. Cleaner Free and is the only app to optimise memory when an app is quit.
  3. FreeMemory 1.8.4 is free only from the App Store.
  4. iFreeMem 3.5 costs £10.
  5. MacPurge 1.2.2 is free.
  6. Memory Clean 5.0 is one of the better apps and is totally free (but only from the App Store).
  7. Memory Diaz 1.0.2 from the same makers of FreeMemory comes this app, which is free only from the App Store.
  8. MemoryOptimizer 3.2.0 is free (and discontinued).
  9. MemoryTamer 1.2.1 costs US$2.49 from the App Store.
  10. Purge 1.0 is free.
  11. purgeRAM 1.1 is a free AppleScript app from SUNRISE (requires administrator privileges to run).
  12. RAM Cleaning 1.0 is free and does exactly the same thing as the SUNRISE version..

About version 10.11

Someone at Apple, Inc. has definitely fallen in love with Yosemite National Park to the point where the next release of OS X will be called "El Capitan" (The Spanish name for "The Captain"). For those familiar with Yosemite National Park landmarks, Wikipedia explains it as follows:

"El Capitan is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith extends about 3,000 feet (900 m) from base to summit along its tallest face, and is one of the world's favorite challenges for rock climbers and BASE jumpers."

Many international Mac users may continue to struggle to see the relevance of this landmark in their everyday work (at least the cat names were better appreciated), but if you were an advertiser in the US looking to attract travellers to Yosemite National Park, you couldn't have asked for a better advert. Come to think of it, the name "El Capitan" may reveal something intrinsic about the nature of this OS X version. There is a sense of, "We at Apple are now stamping our authority and control over this OS and you will follow exactly what we tell you (since we are the Captain)". To make sure of this, a certain feature has been incorporated into OS X "El Capitan" to stop users from making changes to preference files and specific system-related files and folder locations. Although parts of this technology was in action within the system extensions (i.e., kext) where it was required that developers have their third-party extensions signed by Apple before installation is successful, now a number of additional files have been protected in this latest OS X release. This technology now has a name. Apple calls it System Integrity Protection (or SIP for short).

Under the presence of SIP, it means that the new Disk Utility.app will no longer come with a file permissions repair function (not a good decision for the more experienced Mac users) to prevent the modification of the following protected areas under SIP:
 

/System
/sbin
/usr (with the exception of /usr/local subdirectory)
 

Not needing to fix file permissions may be a big time-saver for many users, especially for inexperienced Mac users not able to grasp the importance of checking file permissions on a routine basis, but it doesn't mean no file permission checks are necessary. Apple assumes that everyone will have SIP enabled all the time to not warrant a file permissions check. For the experienced Mac user who may disable SIP, the decision by Apple to remove the permissions check in Disk Utility is not a particularly good one.

Apple's explanation for introducing SIP is, logically enough, on the question of security. Who would argue against this? The company wants to make sure the apps you install and use are secure and cannot damage or tamper with OS X in any way. As Wikipedia stated:

In one of the WWDC developer sessions [June 2015], Apple developer Pierre-Oliver Martel considers root access to be one of the remaining weaknesses of the system, saying that "[any] piece of malware is one password or vulnerability away from taking full control of the device".

Or has Apple gone too far with this security idea?

The reaction to SIP was not exactly one of great enthusiasm among third-party Apple developers. Indeed, one could best describe the views as being mixed with some long-time Apple developers claiming OS X is only a short distance from turning into iOS where users are restricted from accessing all system files and apps without some form of third-party tool to jailbreak it. The ones who have expressed the most disappointment are those developers who rely on deeper system access for the successful operations of their apps saying most users won't bother trying to find ways to disable SIP just to install their applications. Also, SIP will move key system components to different locations to ensure they can be protected under SIP, thereby requiring updates to apps to know the new locations. While the latter is no major deal other than make apps more complicated for developers when handling the new set up of OS X "El Capitan" (as well as older OS versions), the former could potentially detract many inexperienced Mac users from installing certain apps and so affect the income earned by developers in selling their apps.

Another problem to emerge is how some developers are unable to properly install certain additional C++ libraries such as Boost as needed to properly compile and run apps. Unless SIP is disabled, it is likely developers will be scratching their heads as to why some libraries don't install, or even where certain installed files such as libboost_system.a are located. SIP has a nasty way of preventing certain libraries from installing, or even in the right locations.

To make things a little more concerning, Apple has not hinted that they will allow users any easy option to disable SIP. However, if the company should find it in its heart to allow the option to be made available, it would probably be not to dissimilar to what you can do now to allow unsigned apps to be installed by going into the Security and Privacy system preference pane and selecting "Anywhere" under where it says "Allow apps downloaded from:". If not, it will have to be something like a Terminal command you type to disable SIP, but would probably require a restart of the computer for this to work properly. Geez, thanks Apple for this one.

Even with all this going on within OS X, the question on everyone's mind is, How effective is SIP in protecting system files and locations? Well, all it takes is for someone to start up in the recovery disk mode (and by logical implications any separate startup disk) to disable SIP and give the person full access to all the files and folder locations. However, we would imagine that by the time OS X 10.12 gets released, Apple may deal with this last situation by having the ROMs in the latest Macs updated to deny users the opportunity to install and run older OS X versions. So far it is not apparent whether the latest Macs are restricted from installing OS X from versions 10.8 and higher. If this is true, there is still a way to bypass SIP for now.

And in the future, if you ever want to run an older OS X (or even, dare we say it, a Microsoft Windows) version, it may be time for you to consider investing in Parallels Desktop 10 (or 11 etc) to emulate them at reasonable speeds.

Looking beyond this latest security effort, we see the other thing done by Apple for this OS X version is presumably to improve performance. Well, that's the claim being made by the company. Certainly a lot of users have raised this issue more than once with Apple following the release of OS X "Yosemite" (must have reached a critical mass to entice Apple to do something about it). Adding significant amounts of RAM (at least 16GB) had been absolutely necessary for many users (especially those with traditional magnetic hard disks), but problems with the RAM not releasing its memory after an app has quit has made the extra RAM seem, well, a bit low or just not sufficient. Now the company will try to address some of these problems by focussing on specific areas that will increase the performance of its latest OS X. So things like clearing out the RAM properly is unlikely to get a fix. Rather, the company is hedging its bet on a new breed of processors in the upcoming range of MacBook Pro laptops to address the performance issue. Otherwise, lots of cache files will be the order of the day.

As for general appearance, OS X "El Capitan" will not look hugely different from OS X "Yosemite". Yes, you will still get the same infamous and rather ordinary-looking OS X icons you love so much. And the windows and menu will look remarkably the same as with previous OS X versions. Apart from a new desktop picture, Apple is basically relying on refinements to existing features to make life a little easier for users and so hopefully get enough Mac users to make the upgrade.

For example, things like Split View will be introduced (already available on Windows 7 and 8 for several years now, so Apple has learned to keep abreast with Microsoft's latest features — wasn't this meant to be the other way around?), allowing you to run and view two apps side by side. Although not exactly impossible to achieve in current system setups, the feature is meant to speed up the ability to arrange windows of two different apps and return them to their original size and positions when moving to and from the Split View mode. The benefits of this feature is mainly to let you view things like mail arriving on one side of the screen (and do what you have to do with the app on that side of the screen) and on the other side you can be tweeting away to your hearts content (really important stuff like that). Think of it as like forcing you to learn how to multitask between two apps. The only slight problem with this feature is that ideally you would need a wide and large enough screen to get enough details. However, after Apple has decided to do away with the 17-inch laptop model, you will have to keep the windows simplified and focussed on a specific area for your regular checking. Furthermore, the Split View will be in full screen mode, meaning you won't be able to do a lot in those apps except to look and do some basic editing on the thing you are looking. Still, the Split View feature will be a useful addition.

However, the biggest gripe of all for this release is the fact that identified bugs and problems introduced in OS X "Yosemite" will not all get fixed in that older version. There is already talk that simple things like not receiving mail through IMAP connections in OS X "Yosemite" will be fixed in OS X "El Capitan" but not in OS X "Yosemite". In other words, Apple wants to leave enough bugs in cersunrise Apple apps to ensure users upgrade to the latest OS. As Jim Dairymple of The Loop has discovered:

"I use Mail a lot. Unfortunately, I've had some trouble lately with Mail on Yosemite getting stuck while checking IMAP connections, especially after I wake the computer from sleep. All I ask for in El Capitan is for that to be fixed. The good news is that it seems much better in this beta version of the operating system. Apple said Mail in El Capitan delivers an improved IMAP engine, so I'm very hopeful. I haven't had Mail stop working yet and I'm a week into using it--that's a damn good sign.".

Likewise, fixing interface oddities and a number of bugs in Preview.app introduced with OS X "Yosemite" will not get the necessary improvements in that "fast becoming antiquated" OS X version. You will have to upgrade to get a possibly improved Preview.app (perhaps with other new bugs to deal with).

The only way to get around this silly problem is basically to use third-party apps and don't use Apple apps and then you can basically continue using your older OS X version for as long as you require it (or the latest if you are feeling game enough to try it). Otherwise, if you rely on Apple apps to do all your work (cough!), you will be put onto the infamous Apple treadmill of constantly upgrading and hoping all the bugs are fixed. Welcome to the world of Apple computers!

Regarding the Apple apps themselves, they can be best summed up by Dieter Bohn of The Verge:

"Why would you choose Apple's solutions in El Capitan? Because they're all so tightly integrated. Maps talks to Notes, Calendar talks to Mail, and all of them talk to Spotlight. All of those interconnections and digital conversations could subtly drive you to opt for Apple apps instead of whatever you might have been using before. Think of it like Continuity, but inside the computer instead of between devices. And all of it works incredibly well."

Certainly all these subtle improvements are a necessary strategy and part of Apple's effort to get people to use Apple's own software, since at the end of the day, how will Apple properly profile users and learn who they are and what they do and have this information quietly sent to the Apple servers when the users are online? The more tightly integrated the Apple apps become, the more Apple can gather and learn everything about you. And to make this George Orwell's 1984 scene seem all the more effective and real, Apple has quickly and enthusiastically improved (we wish the company could do the same for fixing all the bugs in Yosemite) the CoreSpotlight API to let you (and Apple) find more information in a greater range of documents as well as all your messages in mail, chat and elsewhere. And to make sure people use the updated Spotlight in its full capacity (and don't disable it), Apple has allowed users to search in a more natural language to find things just to be really user friendly during searches, which would no doubt please the less computer-savvy people among us. As Matt Smith of DigitalTrends explains it:

The revision of Spotlight was my favorite addition to OS X Yosemite. It made the operating system more usable by negating the difficulties of Finder — which I've always found inferior to Windows Explorer — and drawing in results from the Web when appropriate. I had no major complaints about it when I reviewed Yosemite last year, but Apple has found new ways to improve it.

Natural language is the big news. Like most search functions online and off, Spotlight lets users refine results by date, file type and other filters, but using those filters can be difficult and often requires memorization of annoying booleans. That's no longer the case. Want to find documents from April? Then type "documents from April". Need April of 2015? Add 2015 to the end of the sentence. It's that simple. Spotlight is hooked into Apple's Mail app, making mail search far easier.

Still, the feature isn't perfect. Natural language input is useful, but it also blurs the line between what does and doesn't work. You might think, for example, that "show me contacts with the last name of Smith" could draw all relevant hits from the Contacts app, but Spotlight isn't connected to that app yet. Some frustrating trial-and-error is required here.

In terms of innovative or original improvements to Apple apps, there is a sense that Apple is running out-of-steam on this specific front, instead relying on copying popular features in third-party apps (or Microsoft with its latest Windows) and just refining existing ones introduced since OS X 10.7. For example Dana Woliman of Engadget stated:

"Some of my favorite updates are in Safari, though many would rightfully argue that these improvements aren't necessarily novel. In fact, some appear to take after features already offered in Chrome, and other competing browsers. For instance, there's now an option to identify which tab is playing sound. From there, you can hit a mute button on the tab itself, or click the speaker icon in the address bar. The latter option comes in handy when you have sound coming from multiple tabs -- say, a song you meant to stream, and an auto-playing video ad in the other. By clicking the sound icon in the URL bar, you can see a list of all the tabs playing sound and selectively mute the one that's bothering you. Perhaps my favorite new feature is the addition of pinned sites. They sort of form a bookmarks bar, only better: Here, these tabs can't be closed, and because they look like shrunken buttons, they take up much less space than a regular tab."

As for preventing users from running older versions of Apple software in case there are bugs or people just prefer the older versions, the real change is mainly to the booting and install method as well as re-working once again the graphics and audio engine. Just enough changes to make people think OS X El Capitan is an improvement from earlier versions. In reality, it just means you have to keep on the bandwagon of updating certain third-party apps and being forced to use the latest Apple apps to help minimise the perceived serious problem of software piracy. Or more likely Apple hasn't got much else to do except find ways to identify users and minimise software piracy and people like Microsoft can copy the best features from Apple into its own Windows 10 OS.

We see this problem most clearly with the way Parallels Desktop has to constantly adapt to Apple's latest changes. As Macupdate user Mcr said:

"There are many posts on the Net about how to install El Capitan beta into Parallels (v 10). I've tried most of them, the only one I've been successful with is here: http://www.lostentropy.com/2015/06/10/installing-os-x-10-11-el-capitan-inside-parallels-desktop/

It's involved, but if you follow carefully, don't try to outsmart the instructions and take shortcuts because you think "you know better", then the instructions work. And bear in mind the following, you've been told:

1) the method only works with the Developer Preview of 10.11, not the Public Beta (as of the date of the article, later Public Beta after that may work, i don't know).
2) to successfully install Parallels Tools afterwards, you MUST disable SIP/rootless first. You can leave it off or turn it back after PT is installed, but it must be off to install PT.

It is very clear after all my experimenting with the various methods to install 10.11 in Parallels, that the bootloader, install mechanism and creation of a bootable image is different in 10.11 from 10.10, which was also slightly different from 10.9. Heck , even between the Developer Preview and Public Beta of 10.11, there is apparently a difference in the booting and install mechanism, as evidenced by the fact the method referenced above only seems to work with the DP.

Parallels is going to need to make some major adjustments to support painless install of 10.11, which likely means a new Parallels [Desktop] v.11 after El Cap ships.

In anticipation of all the bemoaning about another Parallels 'forced' upgrade to support El Capitan, just keep that in mind that the devs are simply having to keep up with Apple, which continues its history of making MAJOR system level and core changes in OS X with every release since Lion, Not just the boot and installing functions, but the graphics engines, audio, video, hardware abstraction and so on. Parallels is not TextEdit, it's very sophisticated software engineering, that takes development resources to maintain and test, every time Apple makes sweeping changes across the board, all of which comes with a cost. It is not as simple as just changing the 'supported version of OS X' from 10.10 to 10.11 in a some little plist file, and shipping an update to Parallels.

Even the video subsystem in El Cap seems to have been reworked again by Apple. Screen drawing with Yosemite virtual machine in PD, is slower than in Mavericks, but had improved in the latest PD 10.2.2. With El Cap, using the same video driver in Parallels Tools for Yosemite, the screen drawing is very glitchy, and slow, like it was with early Yosemite betas.

Regardless, testing El Cap in a VM is nice. I have El Cap installed natively as well on a partition, but this saves from rebooting between El Cap and my every day configuration."

This means that after OS X Snow Leopard, Apple has pretty much embarked on delivering a perception to users of things being allegedly much better with each OS X upgrade. Certainly on a superficial level, some changes to the UI of Apple apps can help to improve the workflows for certain users who are happy to use them regularly enough (and especially if it is likely to help Apple to profile users more effectively). However, under the bonnet, the different versions we see since Snow Leopard are merely designed to change fundamental core aspects of OS X and the way it boots up, not because there are major problems, but merely to keep users updating (some long as developers are happy to provide updates to their apps) or upgrading (usually at a cost) unless the software is sufficiently clever and independent enough to avoid using specific core OS X features. Anything else that is genuinely considered new to OS X is mainly to improve the profiling of users and link this to the Apple apps that are installed (and need regular updating/upgrading through the App Store). And so long as there are enough bugs in some of the more popular Apple apps (a common tactic used by Adobe with its flagship and most popular After Effects), anyone silly enough to use these apps will have to face the treadmill of regular OS X upgrades to have a number of these bugs fixed while facing the likely prospect of some new ones being introduced and have their personal details looked at as part of the user profiling activities of the company concerned.

OS X has certainly reached its used by date. It probably happened as soon as OS X Snow Leopard was release.

Since OS X "El Capitan" is still in its infancy stage (and probably always will be while not all bugs are fixed), a lot of developers are discovering "insufficient memory" messages popping up a regular basis and this is despite the developers having already updated their RAM to handle OS X "Yosemite". It is not clear whether another bout of RAM expansion will be necessary when the final release of OS X "El Capitan" is made (for consumers, that would mean purchasing new laptops since everything is soldered directly to the logic board including the RAM), which is likely to be prior to Christmas in 2015. If Apple is hoping for Mac users to make the upgrade, the company would be wise to make sure there are no such messages appearing in the final release and that the RAM available on current systems is sufficient to run the latest OS X. The presence of these messages is probably just a friendly reminder to developers that what they are running is the beta version and not the final release.

10.11 public version beta 6

Reporting of any beta software on this web site is extremely rare. Usually we give the benefit of the doubt to the developers of new software that bugs will be fixed and other improvements working by the time the official consumer release is made. However, it is worth noting in beta 6 of OS X El Capitan (as of September 2015) of a couple of interesting changes that seem to be in direct response to the previous paragraph about bugs and "insufficient memory". Then again, it is probably a natural and fairly logical progression for the company seeking to make reasonable efforts to remove the bugs and ensure memory requirements to run the OS are acceptable for most users.

Probably realising even fewer people will make the transition to OS X El Capitan, Apple could be making a concerted effort to clean out as many bugs as possible, and to lower the RAM memory requirements down to the more reasonable 4GB, for this beta 6 version.

A couple of statements from beta developers seems to be supporting this move by the company. For example, Macupdate.com user Macinman said on 2 September 2015:

"I agree with the two most current reviews. Beta 6 has been solid. I finally decided to upgrade my late 2013 13" Macbook Pro from Yosemite 10.10.5, to beta 6 and it's been solid. Most of the minor problems I have had come from apps that haven't fully been upgraded to take advantage of the new changes / features. Even this though has been a very small percentage, and everything has for the most part just worked."

As for the RAM requirements, another Macupdate.com user named JamesHarrisPhoto wrote on 2 September 2015:

"Beta 6 has been working beautifully. Love the new features. Running El Capitan on a late 2009 MacBook with only 4 gigs of RAM, and it's running faster and with less problems than Mavericks or Yosemite."

Then again, Apple has always touted 4GB RAM for OS X Mavericks and Yosemite and guess where that left a number of Mac users having precisely 4GB of physical RAM in their computers? Yes, basically stuffed, or downgrade immediately to the OS X they are able to live with. The idea that every Mac users has already moved onto flash-memory drives and the latest Macs to get around this RAM restriction and reach the required speeds had not quite come of age or reached the ears of Apple.

Could this be the first signs that Apple is waking up to itself and realising it has to do a whole lot better than what Mac users have been getting from the company for quite some time?

A further two more developer betas were made available to quash further bugs, bringing a total of eight developer betas to date. This makes it one of the quickest efforts by Apple to fix bugs in any OS X version in history. The only thing is, will it continue when the final public release is made? Or can we expect just a few fixes in areas selected by Apple and users have to wait for the next upgrade to fix more bugs and annoyances?

Official release of OS X El Capitan 10.11.0

Apple began early as part of a move to benefit from the wider base of public users to test the latest software, The aim here is to see how many users will find bugs and have them dealt with as quickly as possible (or at least keep them to a minimum) by Christmas. Then, hopefully, all will be forgiven and people will start to buy Apple products in vast numbers to help keep the shareholders happy by the time the festive season begins.

The move to test the software on a wider level started on 30 September 2015 with the official release of OS X El Capitan. It remains a free downloadable app at the present time (and it should be given the glut of OS X versions available in the marketplace and all are working fine) from the App Store. This is the first big test to see how many Mac users will like (or dislike) the new OS. There is a lot riding on this release for the company since more and more users are choosing to stay with a particular OS X version (mainly OS X Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks) they feel is more stable, reasonably quick, and don't have to go through the nonsense of re-purchasing new licenses and waiting for updates to get apps working again.

In releasing this latest version, we can see the considerable effort Apple has made to keep the install file compact and small enough for online downloading. Indeed, Apple has certainly not been able to shave off any unwanted coding from this release, pushing the file size needed to download and install this version to a staggering 6.08GB. Most users are probably better off waiting for someone to sell...ur, we mean provide...a USB with the install file to save on bandwidth (perhaps you can get away with it at work if the IT people are not too unhappy). The USB will now look like a slightly fatter than usual credit card with the Apple logo on it and all you have to do is flip open the USB stick attached to the card. If you don't like downloading this file, Apple will not let you go too easily. Yosemite users can still enjoy downloading at least 1.9GB when they realise Apple Safari 9.0 is already out at the same time. And if you happen to have an iPhone with iOS 9, you will also love the 1GB iOS 9.0.2 update. At least you have to give it to Apple. The company is trying its hardest to deliver something to its users. Compared to Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, and even Mavericks users who are being left out in the cold (those antiquated systems just won't "cut the mustard" in today's digital world), this is about as good as it gets.

Even nicer, all the updates are free. Thanks. Now it is up to you to download and install all the files in your own time (Apple probably thinks you are not busy enough with your work).

First impressions by the public are mostly positive, at least in terms of the install time, which is approximately 30 minutes (still an eternity for professional Mac users, but reasonable for Mac novices) and superficially there are no obvious signs of anything looking out-of-place, lost, or not working in some critical aspect of OS X or the Apple apps themselves. Of course, looks can be deceiving. More about this later. Anyway, the most notable remarks by users and confirmed by SUNRISE is the decision by Apple to optimize OS X with a metal look as this could be part of the key in the company's decision to improve performance. Less taxing on the graphics processor to draw the interface of OS X usually means a quicker feel to OS X. Were there other performance-related changes made? Probably, but it isn't too obvious what these are. Indeed, many users are not quite sure how significant the performance boost is. Certainly no one is claiming it is slower than any previous OS X version. On the other hand, no one is saying it is dramatically faster than, say, OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks. In terms of actual speed in processing data (leaving aside the snappy-looking appearance of the interface), there is more to be said about this later in the page.

We can also see how much time Apple has spent on improving OS X El Capitan with news that users are saying Apple has provided "beautiful desktop backgrounds" (according to user Zahuh). Probably considered by Apple as an essential new feature when trying to entice more users to upgrade.

Speaking of beautifying the interface, Apple has managed to create a horrible looking trashcan icon. Very bright, almost white trashcan (and hard to tell if it is filled with files needing to be emptied or not as if Apple wants to retain some of those files long enough for some other quiet purpose). Even if there is no sinister reason for changing this icon such as working out what documents you are trying to trash and send this data to the Apple servers, the fact that the icon has been changed tells us that Apple is still fiddling around (yet again) with the icons. Okay, to be honest, there are some improvements compared to OS X Yosemite, but other icons you do have to wonder sometimes. Fortunately those silly icons can be replaced without too much drama. Remember, you will have to disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) to enable a tool such as LiteIcon.app to change the system icons. You can always re-enable SIP at any time once you have made the change. To disable SIP:

  1. Restart your Mac, holding down the Command R keys immediately after you hear the startup chime and keep holding the keys down until the Apple logo appears. Let go of the keys. Wait for a while until it boots into Recovery mode.
  2. From the Utilities menu, select Terminal.
  3. At the prompt type the following command and press enter:

    csrutil disable

    Or, to automatically reboot after disabling SIP:

    csrutil disable; reboot

  4. Restart your Mac.
  5. To re-enable SIP, type in the Terminal:

    csrutil enable

    To confirm the change has been made, type:

    csrutil status

A few fancy features have been added (nothing worth getting excited about). The most obvious one to catch the auspicious eyes of users is the idea of wiggling the mouse (or moving quickly side-to-side with the finger across the trackpad) to enlarge the cursor temporarily, presumably to help users find the cursor. Well, let the truth be known, in previous OS X versions, the reason why users were trying to find the cursor was mainly because OS X was processing something in the background and we had to wait before the cursor re-appears or perhaps we thought it was way off to the edge of the screen (but actually disappeared and we did not know it). In reality, OS X was just too slow or dealing with some issue (usually just before the Finder quits). At least it is nice to see Apple believes this is only a cursor size issue that needs just a little wiggling of the mouse. In other words, the whole problem can be put down to a hiding of the cursor in amongst some complicated graphic design not unlike the way a chameleon does while sitting in a tree.

Looking beyond, all the stuff you ever wanted in OS X Yosemite is still there, tweaked a bit in places to make it less annoying and working closer to the real world of how users expect to see them work. Big question: has Preview.app been made more stable for people to use? Not yet. There are signs that Apple has done something by way of adding extra functions to the app. Clearly the company has been working on the app. Whether it uses the app in real world situations, well, that's apparently not the case. Unfortunately, and incredibly, Apple developers have somehow not been able to see obvious bugs they have managed to pass through to the users. Of particular interest is the way the drag and drop of a PDF file to add PDF pages to an opened PDF in Preview.app will cause corruption to the pages as they appear on the screen. You will have to undo the last insert file step and re-insert the file to solve it. This is all due to Apple's insistent requirement to retain information about what you do and the information you are working on in working RAM memory so when you quit the app the data will be retained in RAM. It means the change made to OS X El Capitan is mainly to find ways to avoid this loss in performance, especially in low RAM environments, while still retaining this "keeping the data" in RAM requirement so Apple can continue to grab information about users through its servers when people are online.

This is the clearest evidence yet that Apple has simply refined OS X Yosemite to do the same things as Apple management wants without actually fixing or removing these unwanted behaviours.

And that's not all. Preview.app is now struggling to save PDF files on most occasions. A PDF page may get inserted okay (thumbnail of the new page will suggest it is fine, even if the page itself will not show in the main window pane, so definitely a familiar bug from the previous OS), only to discover that when saving the file, the app decides it will hang there for what appears to be an indefinite period of time with an endless spinning coloured beachball cursor. You will have to force quit the app (after more than a couple of minutes) and try again, and it may work the second time (don't count on it!). If not, usually you are better off using the Export to PDF option under the File menu (at least no bugs added to this function at the moment) and then force quit the app and what you currently have opened (since Preview.app always automatically saves the file if you try to close the window — a silly idea). However, just when you thought this would solve the problem, the exported PDF shows pages that were originally in the landscape orientation suddenly get rotated into the portrait orientation, meaning you will have to manually rotate those pages back in order to read the text properly. It is all a big time waster if you are trying to do anything serious with Preview.app.

This spinning beachball while saving a file seems to be a new bug introduced in OS X El Capitan. Or is it really a bug? See below for further details.

Anyway, another unwelcome new bug to be introduced to Preview.app is the way it is unable to refresh the main window pane after resizing the window causing the page to appear blurry. Scrolling the pages and going back will refresh the main window pane. Shall we mention more bugs?

These new bugs don't happen after a long period of use of Preview.app. They happen almost immediately or very soon after general use of the application. Apple has clearly done some changes to Preview.app, except they have thrown in far too many bugs under OS X El Capitan. And yet no Apple software engineer and/or developer has ever noticed these bugs. Unbelievable!

All these observations of bugs in Preview.app are quite remarkable considering Apple has gone to what appears to be so much trouble adding a few new functions to Preview.app and yet somehow never picked up on the problems observed above. This is looking like Apple does not actually use its own apps (well, certainly not Preview.app). It just adds a few new functions to entice Mac users to use the app and if it looks like it works once or twice the app must be fine, then off to the stage of releasing it in the next OS X distribution. There is no desire by anyone at the company to use the app regularly in real world applications to see how the app behaves and achieves certain tasks, and how efficiently and effectively too. It is almost like there is another purpose behind having these Apple-made apps given away free with OS X. They may help some users to organise themselves (mainly Mac novices), but not necessarily to give you the best Apple can provide. Rather, these Apple apps seem to be designed to achieve some other objective by the company. Compared this to the professional Mac users and about the only free Apple apps that might be worth using is Safari.app (there are better alternatives), iTunes.app (other music playing apps exist), Preview.app (rather good when it didn't have bugs, but there are alternatives such as Adobe Acrobat), and perhaps Mail.app (if they don't already have a web-based email system). As for the other apps such as Photo.app, iBooks.app, and Contacts.app, it would appear the professionals don't use them since no one in the beta testers for OS X have noticed anything wrong with at least the Preview.app. And if Apple does not pick up on the bugs, it sounds like these Apple apps are only there to encourage novice Mac users to use them so Apple can do its user profiling. There seems to be no other purpose as far as we can tell. Or else Apple would have made each of its own free apps extremely stable and crafted the best and most useful apps ever made given Apple's experience with making software on a Mac. Not so with Preview.app. This app has now reached the point of being unusable (i.e., you can't save files). Why the new bugs?

Now this has got some SUNRISE researchers wondering. What if this is because Apple wants users to open up all online access to Apple servers and so give the company the information it wants in return for making the Apple apps work properly? Could this be the reason for introducing new bugs?

Actually, there is now talk of iCloud being the culprit for the latest problem of saving files in Preview.app. There is something about the spinning beachball effect during saving to suggest the app may be trying to access iCloud in order to save this information outside your local hard disk. However, if iCloud has been turned off, this could be a problem for Apple. And if it is seen as a problem by you (the Mac user), you may need to find a way to tell Preview.app (and other apps) to save the files locally. The way to do this is apparently by updating the iCloud preference file. Certainly this view is hinted at through the Apple discussion forum at https://forums.developer.apple.com/thread/12618 showing a number of users having the same problem, with one user already recommending going into the Apple iCloud system preference panel and telling it the Apple apps to switch off from establishing a secret and immediate connection to an online storage center at Apple servers. In fact, all Apple apps that are likely to require storing data somewhere outside your computer have been turned on for iCloud access once OS X is installed and running. The apps are never turned off by default.

Will Apple fix this problem? Probably not.

We find from the same forum one person going by the username of sschultestrathaus who has sent in a crash report to Apple around 11 September 2015 for the save problem in Preview.app under OS X El Capitan during the developers beta testing phase. Two weeks later Apple developers were unable to find a fix. And now the public has OS X El Capitan 10.11 with the bugs in place for Preview.app.

Except now there are no excuses. OS X El Capitan is out meaning the core problems of getting OS X to work should be fixed. With Apple being aware of the problem with at least one of its apps by the above mentioned user, other Mac users should justifiably expect to see Preview.app and other apps fixed by the next OS X update (i.e., we suspect version 10.11.2) or else it will look too obvious what Apple is doing.

Since this is most likely an iCloud issue, you should try the following (assuming you have set up an iCloud account with Apple):

  1. Click on the "Apple icon" menu in the top left corner of your Mac.
  2. Click on System Preferences.
  3. Click on iCloud.
  4. Click on Options... next to iCloud Drive.
  5. Uncheck the apps you don't want to have access to iCloud Drive.
  6. Click Done and close out of Settings.

As for those Mac users who don't have an iCloud account (understandable if you read articles such as this one), this may be a lot harder than you think. To fix the problem, it seems you must set up an iCloud account before you can tell the iCloud preference pane which apps you don't want iCloud access to be provided. Afterwards you have to find a way to delete the iCloud account, all without Apple knowing who you are. Too hard? Sounds like a job for Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Thanks to Apple, it has been set up this way to force users to identify themselves to the company before they can escape the new bugs or other issues associated with certain Apple apps. If Apple was simply providing its apps for free with absolutely no intention of profiling users, then the bugs would be virtually non-existent, files can be saved locally, and the apps would have awards in the industry for the best and most useful apps ever made. And it won't matter if users have an iCloud account or not, the Apple apps would "just work" (sounds like a familiar motto from one of Apple's earlier adverts many years ago). Not so for certain Apple apps today thanks to the benefit of iCloud for Apple (but not for all users).

It is all looking quite clear why the Apple apps were developed and why they are installed (without any control by the users on where they can be positioned, or what names to give them etc). Apple is hoping users will just use them. So long as the company can grab this information about users and what they do and the additional software they use, whatever the Apple apps are actually doing does not matter to the company so long as not enough users are complaining about certain issues with the apps (especially while Apple does not use their own apps to find these bugs and make the apps more useful).

If this is true, maybe it is time Mac users (once they become smarter and more experienced) move over to alternative software tools not made by Apple to overcome these dubious and sinister practices? In the case of Preview.app (and any other Apple apps), these should be trashed and replaced with third-party software alternatives.

Guess what? The only problem is, Apple does not like users to move and trash its own apps. Try it! You will be told in no uncertain terms not to delete the apps. How interesting? Just how critical are these apps to Apple?

Solution? Have another hard disk prepared and installed with another copy of OS X. Startup on that disk. With OS X El Capitan disabled, you can trash the following Apple apps without ill effect when you restart back into OS X El Capitan:

  1. FaceTime.app
  2. Game Center.app
  3. Mail.app
  4. Maps.app
  5. Messages.app
  6. Notes.app
  7. Photo Booth.app
  8. Photos.app
  9. Preview.app
  10. Reminders.app
  11. Chess.app
  12. iBooks.app
  13. Text Edit.app
  14. Stickies.app
  15. Time Machine.app

You can also remove Calculator.app, and most other Apple apps. The exception to this would be Safari.app and QuickTime.app (and possibly contacts.app). iTunes.app should probably be kept as this helps you to transfer data from your Mac to an Apple mobile device. Or then again, you can get third-party software utilities to access the disk of your mobile devices and transfer files across while running another app to play music. So why use iTunes? It is only because Apple has made a bit of effort to design iTunes to be relatively easy to use. That's the only reason people use it.

You wonder why Apple does not like alternative music playing apps to compete with iTunes on its App Store.

As for Preview.app, we recommend an alternative like PDFpen Pro, or find a simple PDF creation, merge and split tool that can handle images as well as PDFs and you should be fine.

Incidentally, if you don't have an alternative and separate startup disk to delete Apple apps, you can use this UNIX command in Terminal.app:

sudo rm -rf /Applications/[Name of Apple application].app

Getting away from these silly Apple apps, other considerations to keep in mind with OS X El Capitan is the fact that it does not come with Java 6 SE. You will need to install Java 6 when running those legacy software such as Adobe Photoshop CS 5.5 (now considered ancient by Adobe standards) and FileMaker Pro 13 (only just been replaced by FileMaker Pro 14 so Apple can now say all earlier versions are very old). Despite the availability of newer software versions by Adobe and Apple, it is good to see Apple is aware of the possibility during this OS X release that some users might still be using older third-party software. With this remarkable insight from the company, Apple will let you know if you need Java 6 and take you to the Apple web page to download Java 6 2015-001. You can also grab a copy from here too (in case Apple is also gathering details about you when you visit its web site).

Also, Apple and Parallels Inc. are working closely together to let users know if the flagship software Parallels Desktop will work in the latest OS X. Apple makes a note of it when running OS X El Capitan for the first time. A lot of effort by the makers of Parallels Desktop and others to state that version 9 "will not be supported" and, therefore, presumably will not work. Here is an example of an advert arriving in the inboxes of users:

URGENT SERVICE NOTIFICATION for Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac Users

If you intend to upgrade to Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11), please note that Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac will NOT support OS X El Capitan (10.11).

Before you upgrade to OS X El Capitan, be sure to upgrade to Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac. It is our latest version, fully optimized and enhanced for OS X El Capitan.

Upgrade to Parallels Desktop 11 for Mac now!

This is not true. It will work. Parallels Desktop 9 does not support anythin other than run on its own. And it just so happens version 9.0.24251.1052177 will run fine under OS X El Capitan. Never associate the words "NOT support" with "NOT working". It will work if you try it out first before upgrading everything to the latest version. Never be tempted to spend more money because some developers say you must (unless there is good reason because it won't work). Apart from a tiny visual oddity in the way the Microsoft Windows graphic splash screen for Windows 7 and 8 (and certainly you can't run Windows 10) does not appear on startup, everything else is fine including Windows XP. Parallels Access.app may not work, but it is not critical to running PC software. You can run PC apps quite happily on Parallels Desktop.app with the latest OS X. However, if you need the extra comfort of knowing everything is working fine and the developers will make a little extra effort to ensure their software is working on the latest OS X, try Parallels Desktop 10 or 11.

Also, another design fault to leave experienced Mac users scratching their heads is why on earth would Apple decide to suddenly show a black screen during the shutdown sequence? No, this isn't because the computer has switched off. If you look carefully, the screen change from the desktop to the black screen is very quick. So quick in fact that it can make some users (especially if they are not experienced) think the computer really has shutdown. Again, looks can be deceiving. Look carefully when the screen goes black. Is your Mac really turned off? In reality, if you wait long enough, you will see a spinning timer suddenly appear in white against the black background letting you know the computer is still trying to shutdown. If you weren't aware of this, it is very easy to close the laptop, put it inside your bag, and the next time you open the bag and take out the laptop, the computer is very hot (in some cases it can destroy the logic board). We recommend that you wait up to 15 seconds after the black screen appears for the machine to shutdown. Alternatively, put your ears against the laptop's casing next to the trackpad and listen for any noises from the machine (easy with magnetic hard drives). If you don't hear anything and you don't see anything on the black screen, then it should be reasonably safe to close the laptop and take it away.

NOTE: Previous OS X versions always kept the screen in the grey mode whilst trying to shutdown. As soon as the screen goes black, you know when the computer has properly shutdown.

And don't think the boot sequence is any better. If anything, it is actually worse than earlier OS X versions. And Apple knows it, so much so that it has decided to do away with the spinning timer icon in black on the grey background (presumably designed to give some indication that OS X is loading up). Apple has realised, after adding a few more things to the launch sequence, it is better to show a progress bar to the users. At first it seemed unnecessary as most Mac users have gotten use to how long it takes to boot up, and it is bearable. And initially for the first two weeks of installing OS X El Capitan, it feels like it is about the same, if not just a tad longer. But then, after a while, something dramatically slows down the booting up stage. If you look carefully, the progress bar seems to move along until it reaches about two thirds of the way through. Then the OS sits there for the next 30 seconds before it decides it is better to move on and finish off the launching sequence (before too many users start complaining to Apple about it). When it does get going again, it is fairly quick and before you know it, you are finally at the desktop. Question: Why the delay? And why the decision to put in a progress bar? Has Apple done something extra during startup that users don't know about? The delay is highly reminiscent of the Preview.app problem during its attempt to save a file as if expecting access to iCloud, but it can't. It is bad enough in previous OS X versions that all we had to see was a spinning timer icon. Certainly not as good as OS 9 when Apple could show some accountability and openness about what the OS was doing during the boot sequence. At least with OS 9 you can see the control panels and extensions loading up by the way the icons of those control panels and extensions appear along the bottom of the screen during startup. After these were loaded up, it was quick to the desktop. Nice, thanks. Now, we have to accept OS X. Okay, except we have to put up with a spinning timer icon thing instead. Fair enough, so long as it does not take too long to startup. Not exactly a whole lot of improvement from OS 9 during the startup sequence but at least it was bearable. Now, under OS X El Capitan, we have a lot of extra time spent by the OS on launching itself to try to do something, and the need for a progress bar has become more important than ever. We wonder why? Enough time has been spent for users to go away and make a cup of coffee and come back and hopefully the desktop of the Mac will appear. Even though we have progressed to having a progress bar instead, Apple still cannot tell us precisely what the OS is doing.

Is Apple hiding yet another dirty secret about its OS that it is not willing to tell Mac users about?

This is what happens when the Mac has no real competition from alternative OS manufacturers to give Apple a run for its money. If only the competition watchdog could legislate that each unique computer platform must have at least two competing and alternative operating systems from different companies for users to choose, we can be sure OS X would be dramatically improved, simplified, highly stable, and all the user profiling would be kept to an absolute minimum (if not, perhaps non-existent if another OS hasn't got it).

Looking further, it seems the majority of apps work surprisingly well (given all the fanfare in the past of users needing to upgrade or update a number of apps to make them work on the latest OS). Major apps such as Microsoft Office 2011 continue to hum along as if unaware of the OS X changes made (although you will need Microsoft Office 2011 Update 14.5.7 to fix a hang in Outlook under OS X El Capitan, and fortunately the only serious error to report). The ones you will need to check carefully are those small "tools" you have downloaded from third-party developers. If the apps are of any worth, check with the developers' web sites for the latest updates, or upgrades (unless Apple has put in something into OS X to stop the developers from making the improvements — perhaps a little too powerful for Apple's liking? Or too much competition for Apple?).

Oops! We should mention, after using a few apps for a period of time, that all Adobe software will launch and appear to work, but some buttons and functions will not perform as expected or not work at all. For example, you cannot turn on and off the layers in Adobe Photoshop. In Adobe Illustrator, quitting does not occur gracefully. Rather it will spend some time quietly quitting the app and for a while it would appear the app is closed. Then suddenly a message will appear saying the app suddenly crashed or quit unexpectedly. Then you have the option to send the report of the problem to Apple. Other than that, selecting panels for Color/gradients, Stroke and so on will only open the panel you last chose. All other panels are automatically closed. Also, the fonts menu is all screwed up. Use another font selection location as it will work instead of the standard menu item. These oddities will appear in Adobe CS5.5 or earlier versions.

Perhaps plagued by a limited RAM environment issue (despite Apple's claim that OS X El Capitan is better able to handle as little as 4GB), Adobe Acrobat version 10 may also suddenly quit after adding and using for the first time new buttons in the toolbar from the Quick Tools library.

There may have been a little more effort by Apple to make sure enough critical apps can run, but at the end of the day you may have to upgrade enough major apps (Microsoft is nicer to provide a free update) to ensure the software is optimised for the latest OS X and will give you the least amount of problems when using the software. Adobe, on the other hand, will probably require upgrades to make them work as you expect.

Overall impressions from users and SUNRISE are that OS X El Capitan won't significantly transform your workflows in the way you are doing them now on earlier OS X versions. A few additional features may make life a bit easier (and hopefully with stability, so long as you are happy using Apple apps — and even here certain bugs will not be fixed from the previous OS X version). Yet at the same time you should not have high expectations of seeing dramatic changes to the look of your beloved OS X or the way you do things now for the better. Think of OS X El Capitan as more a logical enhancement to OS X Yosemite, except that Apple does not want to call it OS X Yosemite version 10.10.6 or a little higher, but rather version 10.11 just to encourage users to think it is much better than OS X Yosemite and presumably worth the upgrade. To some extent, there are some improvements, but not a lot to wow enough Mac users to make the upgrade.

Perhaps the biggest positive one can say about OS X El Capitan is the fact that Apple has done some listening (not a lot, but at least enough to fix a few more bugs mentioned by users while leaving a few behind as can be seen in Preview.app — thanks Apple! You are too kind and generous) and has felt it necessary to focus its attention and efforts on performance-related issues with this release, together with a few nice desktop backgrounds thrown in (those Apple software engineers and designers must have been working very hard). At least somewhere in those changes Apple has finally got its priorities right (for a change).

For a technical rundown and analysis of OS X El Capitan, have a read of this Ars Technica review.

UPDATE
30 September 2015

It hasn't been more than 6 hours since OS X El Capitan 10.11.0 was released when a number of users started complaining about loss of important mail-related information, including messages and calendar items, immediately after installation.

The problem relates to Apple's own Mail.app, of all things. Given this is Apple's own app and time was provided to developers to check for problems, incredibly no one saw this coming even when installing the beta releases. Clearly something must have happened between developers beta 8 and the final release version to allow Apple to stuff up Mail.app and the ability to retain users own personal data during installation. It is also a bit unusual in the sense that installations of previous OS X have been fairly reliable in this respect. However, on this occasion Apple has managed to make a slight mess of it.

Way to go Apple!

The advice is always the same for any major installation of an OS: Never rely on Apple to get it right first time. Your personal data must always be backed up to a separate external hard drive before any major upgrade is performed. No exceptions! Never assume you don't need a backup. Always back things up. We cannot stress this advice enough to all users, especially when it comes to Apple and its own software. One terabyte pocket-sized backup units can be purchased for as little as US$50 and these are enough to back up everything on your Macintosh computer and still have room to backup two or three older OS X installations (in case you ever feel inclined to stick to what you feel most comfortable and is reliable).

This is the soundest advice we can possibly give to users.

As for installation of OS X El Capitan, you can upgrade your current OS X version without any problems (apart from the Mail.app issue mentioned above). Interestingly, some observers — especially those close to Apple's heart and the major software companies such as Adobe and Microsoft — will recommend a clean install (to ensure you have legitimate software when you re-install them). If you do a clean install, follow these steps:

  1. Backup your data (in case it wasn't made clear earlier).
  2. Power off your Mac
  3. Insert USB installer.
  4. Hold down the Option button on your keyboard.
  5. While holding down the Option key, power on your Mac.
  6. Follow the prompts to installing OS X, bearing in mind the hard disk you will want to install OS X (in case you want to keep older OS X versions on separate hard disks).

Technically this clean install procedure should not be necessary as the upgrade procedure of launching the installer app, letting it retart the Mac, install OS X, and re-boot at the end to reach the desktop should work fine.

UPDATE
14 October 2015

Do you often get the message, "You are opening the application [app name] for the first time. Are you sure you want to open this application?"? If the application has been downloaded and you are confident it is safe, you can clear the extended attribute (or flag) of the app to "quanrantine" it (i.e., let you know through the above annoying message, but necessary for Mac novices who are grappling with security issues) and especially if you should reset the LaunchServices database for any reason where your preferences are stored for these apps.

Here are the steps:

  1. Download this AppleScript file (it is editable, so you can see how it works).
  2. Drag and drop the AppleScript file into /Library/Scripts/Folder Action Scripts/
  3. Find the folder where you download and uncompress apps to.
  4. Control click on the folder. A pop-up menu appears.
  5. Choose Services-->Folder Actions Setup.
  6. Select the AppleScript file called "Clear quarantine flag from apps".
  7. Click OK

Now every time an app is download and uncompressed, the quarantine flag will be automatically cleared and you will no longer be pestered by the message. If you are not sure about your app being "safe", move the compressed file to another folder, uncompress it, do the necessary tests, and it you go ahead to launch it, you will be asked to confirm whether you want to open the app for the first time. Afterwards you should not be nagged again unless there is a problem with OS X and LaunchServices database.

Controlling the beast...

Apart from trying to work out your geographical location, the apps you use, who you are, and so on, it now seems possible for Apple to remotely observe your activities through screen sharing in a secret way. We are trying to confirm this. If this is true, here are the further recommendations you would need to implement on your Mac to control OS X El Capitan:

  1. Install Little Snitch 3.7 (this version is compatible with OS X El Capitan).
  2. Modify existing or create new rules (to override locked rules and later disable those locked rules once you have the new rules in place) to deny outgoing connections to the following Apple servers:

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/AuthKit.framework/Versions/A/Support/akd
    destination: gsa.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/AppleIDAuthAgent
    destination: identity.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: 6

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ApplePushService.framework/apsd
    destination: domain push.apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ApplePushService.framework/apsd
    destination: domain push.apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any
    NOTE: You may need to enable this outgoing connection if you need information to be transferred from your Mac to your Apple mobile devices.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/AssistantServices.framework/assistantd
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: 6

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/AssistantServices.framework/assistantd
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: 6
    NOTE: You may decide to enable outgoing connection to this server if you want to use Apple's dictation services.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/GeoServices.framework/Versions/A/XPCServices/com.apple.geod.xpc/Contents/MacOS/com.apple.geod
    destination: any
    port: any
    protocol: any

    process: /usr/bin/curl
    destination: www.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/DashboardClient.app/Contents/MacOS/DashboardClient
    destination: iphone-wu.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any

    process: /Applications/Third-Party Applications/Tool Box/Network/Internet - Browsing/Mozilla FireFox 39.0.3/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox
    destination: ssl.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /Applications/Third-Party Applications/Tool Box/Network/Internet - Browsing/Mozilla FireFox 39.0.3/Firefox.app/Contents/MacOS/firefox
    destination: devstats.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/HelpData.framework/Versions/A/Resources/helpd
    destination: help.apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Only enable this outgoing connection if you definitely need help from Apple to be shown for various Apple-related OS X and app functions.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/HelpData.framework/Versions/A/Resources/helpd
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: 6

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/HelpData.framework/Versions/A/Resources/helpd
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: 6
    NOTE: Only enable this if you wish to receive dynamic content from the Apple server for Apple's HelpViewer.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/IMFoundation.framework/XPCServices/IMRemoteURLConnectionAgent.xpc/Contents/MacOS/IMRemoteURLConnectionAgent
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Enable only if you use Apple's messaging/chat services.

    process: /Library/Little Snitch/Little Snitch Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/Little Snitch Agent
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any

    process: /Library/Little Snitch/Little Snitch Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/Little Snitch Agent
    destination: domain apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any
    NOTE: This rule allows Little Snitch to determine the current geographic location when a network is joined. This information is only saved if "Save location of networks" is enabled in the preferences. But to be safe, deny access.

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/mapspushd
    destination: gspe35-ssl.ls.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /Applications/Messages.app/Contents/MacOS/Messages
    destination: configuration.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Only enable access if you want to use Apple's Messages.app.

    process: /Applications/QuickTime Player 7.app/Contents/MacOS/QuickTime Player 7
    destination: qtpix.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Not necessary to enable access as QuickTime 7 Player will work fine without it.

    process: /usr/libexec/rtcreportingd
    destination: pancake.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/Safari
    destination: safari-extensions.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Only enable access if you absolutely need to see and install the available Safari extensions from the Apple web site.

    process: /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/Safari
    destination: configuration.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Not necessary to enable for Safari.app to work.

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/Software Update.app/Contents/Resources/softwareupdated
    destination: swscan.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Only enable if you are happy to let Apple check your software and notify you of updates.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ParsecUI.framework/Versions/A/Support/SpotlightNetHelper.app/Contents/MacOS/SpotlightNetHelper
    destination: wu-calculator.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ParsecUI.framework/Versions/A/Support/SpotlightNetHelper.app/Contents/MacOS/SpotlightNetHelper
    destination: api.smoot.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/storeaccountd
    destination: phobos.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Do you have an App Store account? You may need to establish an outgoing connection should you decide to login to your account.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/storeaccountd
    destination: ax.init.itunes.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any
    NOTE: Do you have an App Store account? This one is via the iTunes.app. Decide if you wish to enable or disable access.

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/storeaccountd
    destination: init.itunes.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/storeassetd
    destination: p72-buy.itunes.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CommerceKit.framework/Versions/A/Resources/storeassetd
    destination: su.itunes.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/SubmitDiagInfo
    destination: radarsubmissions.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /System/Library/CoreServices/SubmitDiagInfo
    destination: radarsubmissions.apple.com
    port: 443
    protocol: any

    process: /Applications/Utilities/System Information.app/Contents/MacOS/System Information
    destination: support-sp.apple.com
    port: 80
    protocol: any

    process: /usr/libexec/UserEventAgent
    destination: captive.apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any

    process: /usr/libexec/UserEventAgent
    destination: www.apple.com
    port: any
    protocol: any

NOTE: We cannot recommend more highly the shareware utility called Little Snitch 3.7 for OS X El Capitan. It is one of a handful of highly useful tools to help you put reasonable controls on OS X. It is what makes you the captain of OS X when you are using it (not the other way around).

The general approach to using Little Snitch

Little Snitch should be used on the basis that if a server requesting data from your computer systems do not provide any real and tangible benefits in the way you can use the software or hardware right now, you should deny it. There is absolutely no point in letting the server grab whatever data it wants (or the people who set up the server think they need) just for you to use your computer and software. And remember, there are plenty of other web sites that can supply almost the same information you are looking for.

This approach to denying unnecessary servers can be quite brutal resulting in more servers being cut out than expected and could stop you from doing things such as updating your software or grabbing the latest time information from certain remote servers. Then again, you should ask yourself, "How often do I need to update my software when doing my work, or to check the time and make sure it is accurate?" The answer should not surprise you: very rarely. Thus you must decide which servers you want to open up “all the time” to allow certain tasks, such as automatic updating of software, to take place, and what other servers you may want to deny "all the time".

Time servers such as:

time-osx.g.aaplimg.com time.euro.apple.com

are not critical to block. But remember, using our method, we would ask, is it absolutely necessary to constantly access this server to get the latest time? Your computer is already a sufficiently accurate system for working out the time without needing access to the server all the time. In which case, you can safely block the server. However, if you need very accurate times for your line of work, we recommend not blocking the time server.

As another example, if you receive a message by Little Snitch about whether you should block or allow a server called free.timeanddate.com, this is totally up to you to decide. All that it will happen if you decide to block it is to stop this server or any other web site using the time and date service from displaying a clock and date on the web site. Or you may decide it is useful to access and see the date and time on a web site all the time. It is really up to you to decide whether you need this server.

As for ls.apple.com.edgesuite.net, this is mainly to provide you with access to Apple’s own music store and to download software updates with the help of Akamai Technologies’ content delivery network. If you need to download music from the Apple store, or check software updates for Apple OS and its apps, unblock this server. However, if you don’t need to constantly update software or download music content, you can block it. Indeed, 99 per cent of the time you will probably never need to access this server when using your computer.

In the end, it is your choice. You decide which servers to deny and which ones to keep open (if not all the time, then maybe temporarily when you are ready to access those servers). Only keep those servers that provide the essential services you need. And be prepared to use the Rules option in Little Snitch on a regular basis to test various permutations of the servers from a web site or an app (by turning off as many servers as you can and turning on only those servers you definitely need) to get the most secure and essential information you need. It can be a little time-consuming in the early stages to sort out the least important servers from the important ones, but if you choose carefully the web sites you really need to access regularly, you can knock out a heap of servers leaving behind only those few that are absolutely necessary to provide the essential and most secure information you need.

In fact, in the future, it would not be surprising if those web sites that don’t require a multitude of servers to deliver its information to users will be seen by experienced internet users as more secure and safer to use.

NOTE: Should any software and hardware get so bad as to stop you from using your software (or web site) unless it has to constantly gain access to a server, it is time to use alternative software (or visit another web site) from other developers.

Is OS X El Capitan sending more power to certain hardware components of your computer?

Are you experiencing problems with WiFi under OS X El Capitan for the first time, but not with earlier OS X versions? Is your computer claiming that there is no hardware connected for WiFi in your Mac? This may not be a coincidence. However, to ensure there isn't another problem, we recommend the following steps be taken (in case it could be a preference file corruption due to a new OS X trying to save data incorrectly to old preference files created on previous OS X versions):

  1. Go to Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration and delete the following:
    com.apple.airport.preferences.plist
    NetworkInterfaces.plist
    preferences.plist
    com.apple.nat.plist

  2. Restart the Mac.
  3. Re-establish network connections.

This should fix the problems permanently. If not, there is a hardware issue with the router, or an OSX issue.

For another WiFi test, consider applying the following:

  1. Download, uncompress and run this Kext Utility.app.
  2. Drag and drop onto the Kext Utility window the extension IO80211Family.kext in /System/Library/Extensions/. This will perform some checks, including permission settings and rebuild caches.
  3. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC) by shutting down the Mac, plugging the power adapter to the computer, pressing simultaneously Shift Control Option keys and the Power button for a few seconds, releasing the keys and buttons and pressing the power button to boot the computer as usual.

Still having issues with your WiFi? Try this method (only works for pre-OS X El Capitan versions):

  1. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.
  2. Unload the disoveryd service by typing in the Terminal:

    sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.discoveryd.plist

  3. Press the Return key and type your Admin password.
  4. To reload discoveryd service, type in the Terminal:

    sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.discoveryd.plist

  5. Press the Return key.
  6. Relaunch apps that require network connectivity, and see what happens.

NOTE: The above steps should work during the period when the computer remains on. If you reboot your Mac, the above steps will have to be repeated.

If the WiFi problem persists, it is time to eliminate the hardware as a possible cause. To achieve this, you will need to startup the computer on a different OS X version (i.e., No El Capitan). If you discover the WiFi problem persisting on a different OS X version, it will be a hardware problem. Either a strand of hair inside the machine is now acting as a conduit for electrical current to travel through it and short-circuit some part of the WiFi hardware component, or something is damaging the WiFi component. But since the problem did not exist before installing OS X El Capitan, it is likely there has been an increase in the electrical current going to the WiFi hardware, perhaps as Apple's solution to solving some other WiFi issues reported by users such as unexpected drop-outs or something else. However, the decision by the company to push through more power could actually be damaging the WiFi hardware.

Before going to an Apple store to replace the WiFi hardware, it may also be worthwhile trying out Apple's hidden WiFi diagnostic tool, accessible by pressing the Option key and clicking on the WiFi icon in the menu bar. It comes in handy when testing for intermittent drop-outs and other issues and can present a summary report of what could be causing them.

Keep the WiFi network card clean of dust and hair strands

The primary reason for WiFi drop outs and eventual WiFi hardware failure or loss (as if indicating it is not connected to your logic board) as confirmed on different OS X versions running on your computer is because the WiFi network card can contain lots of dust and hair strands across the three main "exposed" wire contacts (you can see this on opening up the machine and seeing them located next to the CD/DVD drive). These wire contacts need to be clean (after disconnecting the battery first). But this is not the sole problem. Given that no movement of the laptop has caused the WiFi hardware loss to appear under OS X Mountain Lion until a short period of time running under OS X El Capitan, we would have to say the latest OS X is 40 per cent responsible for the WiFi problem because it has boosted the power output of the WiFi network card. It means for older Macs, the extra power can hasten the process of shortening the lifespan of these machines if they are not in tip-top condition internally.

Onyx 3.1.1 and printing problems

Take great care when using the utility OnyX 3.1.1. The option to repair permissions might be great (added back in from the last version at the request of experienced Mac users), but it could cause a problem with third-party printer drivers. The most notable observation to support this claim is a sudden quit of Preview.app. This is often followed by messages of what happened, such as:

"Preview quit unexpectedly while using the FXPSACEWatermark plug-in."

These messages will be common (in the case of the above message, for Fuji-Xerox printer drivers).

In more stable third-party apps, you may not be able to print anything. Or if you do, the ability to save printing presets will be disabled. Re-running the permissions fix on OnyX will continually repair permissions to printer drivers as can be seen from the details displayed after the fix without actually fixing the printing problem.

If this happens to you, re-install the third-party drivers. Any existing saved presets should be retained.

Again, as with any new OS X, you will have to give it a bit of time for the developer of OnyX and/or the third-party printer manufacturers to find a solution to this problem (thanks to Apple's inability to get OS X right the first time around).

NOTE: Apple has removed the permissions check in Disk Utility.app. There is no option for Apple to repair the permissions problem with printer drivers. Technically, this should not have been done. It would be better if the feature was provided and be hidden and run quietly in disk recovery mode (if Apple does not want ordinary users to check permissions manually). For the moment, use OnyX 3.1.2 or higher to check for file permissions in El Capitan.

Data retention in inactive memory after quitting apps still affecting proper functioning of launched apps and general performance

Despite alleged improvements in performance, Macs with 4 to 8GB of RAM still suffer with performance issues after a period of time. Not as bad as in Mavericks and Yosemite, but it is there. Also, the requirement that Apple expects data to be kept in the inactive memory even after apps are quit is causing problems for apps such as Adobe Acrobat to perform a sequence of tasks. For example, the Acrobat app can fail to delete pages in the thumbnail section after a large colour document has been "captured" using the OCR feature. You must quit and re-launch after a major task and hopefully things will return to normal to allow for the next task to be performed.

Taming LaunchPad.app

On the aspect of how difficult it is for Mac novices to customise and streamline the information held by certain Apple apps, LaunchPad has come in for the same criticism. This particular app is notoriously difficult to remove (third-party and Apple) apps and keeping it that way. It is almost as if LaunchPad serves a purpose for Apple in determining the apps you install and commonly use. And you certainly can't simply press the Option key as the app icons wiggle and expect an X button to appear so you can remove them. The apps are designed to stay there for as long as you keep the apps in the Application folder. True, you can always use a utility called LaunchPad Manager 1.0 to clean up the Launchpad icons, but then you have to find the SQL database holding the details of these apps and lock it down to prevent OS X from automatically re-populating the records with the apps you thought were removed after your efforts.

And what is the purpose of LaunchPad.app? Dock.app is there to do the same thing, and if necessary just add a folder and show the apps in the Applications folder in list view. Simple. Or is it there to help Apple to determine what you have installed on your computer?

If you are having trouble taming LaunchPad and making it behave the way you want, here is what you do:

  1. Clean up the Launchpad icons using LaunchPad Manager 1.0.
  2. Go to and open the folder:

    Users/[Your User Name]/Library/Preferences/ByHost/

  3. You can trash all the.plist files you see. Or keep the following:

    • com.apple.Bluetooth.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.coreservices.appleidauthenticationinfo.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.dock.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.finder.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.java.JavaPreferences.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.loginwindow.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.screensaver.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.ScreenSaverPhotoChooser.xxxxx.plist
    • com.apple.systempreferences.xxxxx.plist
  4. Navigate one folder up from the ByHost folder to the Preferences folder.
  5. Get Info (from the Finder's File menu) the ByHost folder.
  6. In "Sharing & Permissions", change the Privilege to "Read only". Close the Get Info window.

Now, everytime you open LaunchPad, it will stay clean and as you want it without OS X trying to re-populate it with new icons of virtually every app in your Applications folder.

UPDATE
24 October 2015

The above steps did not quite work as expected. Apple has managed to sneak in the apps to Launchpad despite changing the file permissions to the ByHost folder to "Read only". We will investigate further. At any rate, there is a utility that can identify and delete the files automatically on starting up and shutting down/restarting to control Apple's desire to put in extra information you don't need. Further details will come soon.

OS X Update 10.11.1

No time wasted in releasing this update on 21 October 2015. Apple's main focus for this update are the following issues:

  1. Improves installer reliability when upgrading to OS X El Capitan.
  2. Improves compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016.
  3. Fixes an issue where outgoing server information may be missing from Mail.
  4. Resolves an issue that prevented display of messages and mailboxes in Mail.
  5. Resolves an issue that prevents certain Audio Unit plug-ins from functioning properly.
  6. Improves VoiceOver reliability.
  7. Adds over 150 new emoji characters with full Unicode 7.0 and 8.0 support.

Or in slightly more clearer language that the public can understand, point 1 suggests the problem users had with losing email messages from Mail.app during the OS X installation appears resolved. However, this improvement is not much help to anyone unless you download the full and complete OS X El Capitan Install file. You are better off downloading the 6GB file from Apple once again to benefit from this fix. Points 3 and 4 fixes further bugs in Mail.app. Point 2 suggests Microsoft could do only so much to make Microsoft Office 2011 reasonably compatible with OS X El Capitan (showing a lot of people are using the product despite Microsoft Office 2016 being available — probably people are waiting for the standalone product instead of the iCloud/online subscription product version), but identified issues quickly found in Microsoft Office 2016 required Apple to fix OS X. Great to see this has been done. Now if only Adobe and Apple could work together to do the same for slightly older Creative Suite of software products (probably not considering Adobe wants everyone to upgrade). As for professional users of GarageBand.app or other audio editors, some improvements were necessary to allow reliable access to Audio Unit plug-ins. Apart from VoiceOver reliability, the only other thing Apple could see in dire need of improvement in this update (or perhaps the company was limited by time) is the addition of 150 new emoticons to keep the Mac novices and teenagers happy when communicating with friends on a Mac.

No where in these changes can we find improvements to Preview.app. Sounds like Apple is happy with the way this app works. A big win for users of emoticons, but a big fat zero for those needing to use Preview.app (mainly for work). Oh well. Glad to see Apple is trying extremely hard to get its priorities right with this update.

We will just have to wait and see what happens in the next update.

And for all these improvements, already the first update file size is 1.2GB. Mail.app, the Audio Unit plug-ins, VoiceOver and the emoticons could not possibly reach that size already! There must be other things improved, but Apple is not willing to be specific about what they are.

However, 24 hours later, we hear Apple has given hints in the Yosemite Security Update 2015-004 released on 22 October 2015 that the security improvements here were also made to OS X El Capitan version 10.11.1, Anything else Apple has done but not willing to divulge to the public?

If you are already on OS X El Capitan, you will probably have no choice but to find out what else Apple has done by updating OS X. NOTE: It might be better to keep the original OS X El Capitan 10.11.0 installer and only update those components from future updates using a separate startup disk installed with the very latest OS X El Capitan 10.11.x version. Then you can pick and choose what you think is relevant and necessary and which causes the least amount of problems for the work you do.

Enjoy!

UPDATE
22 October 2015

Preview.app is not working properly. Blurry pages in the main window pane when re-sizing the window, constantly spinning coloured beachball that never ends on saving PDF documents, and the list goes on.

Could Preview.app be the most useful Apple app for users and Apple knows it? And could Apple be trying to force users to establish an iCloud account for the problems to go away with this latest OS X version?

UPDATE
24 October 2015

The OS X 10.11.1 update has made such overwhelming improvements that it has managed to stop PDFwriter 1.2.1 from working. A very useful app. Worked fine in OS X 10.11.0, but not OS X 10.11.1. Sounds like these virtual PDF printer drivers are a no-goer for Adobe/Apple people. Not even VipRiser 1.5.5 can be made to work at all. What a pity. Thanks Apple.

Even funnier is the fact that the developers of PDFwriter of VipRiser are nowhere to be seen and hasn't continued supporting their own printer drivers with updates for years. Probably paid handsomely (or recruited) by some software manufacturers to keep the developers quiet. For all we know, the developers could be enjoying a holiday in the Bahamas with all expenses paid by Apple or Adobe?

Speaking of alleged improvements, Apple has managed to stuff around OS X Mountain Lion startup disks with the sudden appearance of a bug that prevents users from dropping files (after dragging them around). You have to force quit the Finder to get out of the problem. Fixing file permissions will not help, or install over the top of the existing system files from the original install DVD. You will be required to wipe clean the hard disk and install a clean OS X Mountain Lion version. NOTE: All earlier OS X versions (and possible OS X Lion) are free of this bug.

You are too kind, Apple!

Is there really a performance improvement?

Several new problems definitely exist in OS X El Capitan. Not sure if it is a limited RAM issue or something else, but it seems after using one or two major apps and features, subsequent apps launched and in the process of being used indicate OS X is struggling to redraw standard buttons in the toolbar region of Finder windows and dialog boxes, such as the Save dialog box, as well as triangle icons to indicate a submenu in the menu commands disappear, the Apple icon in the top left hand corner is gone (unless you switch to Finder), and other interface oddities. Often the RAM has to be cleared (or the machine restarted) to solve this situation. Again, this problem did not exist in previous OS X versions.

Another issue to get people wondering is why OS X's Finder.app (for organising files and apps and show you the desktop etc) cannot focus on a specific task and allow people to trash files even when the documents have been closed? For example, the Finder will often show a message behind various open apps (you will know this when the Finder icon bounces into view regularly on the Dock) indicating a file or several files placed in the trash can cannot be trashed despite the user requesting this action be taken. Why? It is because certain apps have to be quit (despite the documents closed and put in the trash can) before you can trash the files. However, on switching to the Finder to deal with this bouncing Finder icon in the Dock and message, a Finder window for accessing files which was minimised to the Dock will often suddenly open again when the whole purpose of going back to the Finder is to deal with the silly Finder message by clicking on the Cancel button.

And what about the Finder message itself that you can't trash a file? To properly solve it, you have to quit the app, trash again, and re-open the app to continue working. Really dumb. Again this determination by Apple to retain data about documents and apps in inactive RAM is turning into a pain in the butt for professional Mac users. Yet Apple is clearly not professional enough to use its own apps and OS X to see the problems and fix them. It truly amazes users why Apple can't focus on providing a quality OS X that allows all apps to run and work well. The world does not revolve around Apple and OS X, it revolves around the user and the apps they are trying to use to achieve certain things. Apple needs to realise this fact when providing products and asking people to upgrade.

Now comes the performance aspect of OS X El Capitan. Is it really faster? Talk of being "snappier" by some Apple developers and beta testers is really to do with the way OS X spends a fraction of a second longer to grab all the information it needs to display on the screen, then it throws this information as well as your personal or business confidential information to the screen very quickly (mainly because Apple has chosen the metallic design for OS X to make the drawing process faster). The performance boost is really in the graphics drawing aspect. However, in terms of performing behind-the-scenes calculations not involving the display of anything on the screen, it is slower than on previous OS X versions.

Try it. How long does it take to save files? How long does it take to optimise a PDF in Adobe Acrobat? How long does it take to send print data once OS X finally realises the printer is connected? In fact, how long does it take to do anything under OS X El Capitan? Now perform the same tasks in OS X Yosemite, or better still, try OS X Mountain Lion, and measure how long it takes. Get a decent sized file to perform the test and see how long it takes to complete certain processor intensive tasks.

If you need an example, get a complex 42.1MB PDF file (say, a book with pictures and lots of text). Open Adobe Acrobat X and the file. Choose Optimised PDF under the Save As submenu of the File menu. Choose 300dpi and maximum quality of the compression for the images. Now click the Save button. In OS X Mountain Lion, it takes precisely 10 minutes to process and save the file. Try it with the exact same application, file and Mac (i.e., same microprocessor, same RAM, same hard disk space, same everything) under OS X El Capitan. Guess how long it takes? You have to wait for 16 minutes and 54 seconds. That's a difference of nearly 7 minutes to wait for Acrobat to optimise the PDF and save the file. And both versions of OS X have been freshly installed and clean on two identically-sized hard disks (the only differences are in the names of the hard disks and the OS X versions installed on them).

Something is dragging down the speed of OS X when performing tasks on your files.

Apple and its developers claim there is an improved performance under OS X El Capitan. This is patently untrue. The company can only be referring to how the screen is drawn at high speed together with a simpler interface design to permit a faster display of graphics. Definitely not in the way non-visual information relating to your personal or business files is processed by your apps.

Part of the problem for this poor performance is definitely with iCloud and the way some apps are designed to constantly send data to online servers if you are on the internet (please note that the above test with the PDF file was done with the internet connection and all networks turned off). However, where the tasks should not require iCloud or any online activity, ask yourself why is it possible to achieve things more quickly in earlier OS X versions (at least from OS X Mountain Lion and higher) compared to OS X El Capitan? Indeed, what has Apple being doing with the latest OS X?

Apple may have done some improvements in certain areas (mainly to support its policy of user profiling and checking the documents and apps you create and use, and to hide all of this as much as possible by trying to improve performance to the graphic drawing process). However, at the end of the day, OS X El Capitan is showing itself to be more of a problem when it comes to actually performing essential everyday tasks compared to previous OS X versions. It is almost like the entire OS X needs a complete overhaul and have it rebuilt from the ground-up. And while the company is at it, remove all the silly extras users clearly don't need. Then what kind of an OS X would we have after making these changes? Probably might be worth calling it OS XI if Apple can do it. Definitely would be better than the thing Mac users have to live with at the moment.

It is no wonder Apple loves its Mac novices and want to get new people to buy Macs. These unfortunate and rather naive buyers don't know any better. They look at the Macs and think these machines are great (at least in terms of their appearance), and fast enough for their simple needs (mostly typing some text in their Twitter or Facebook accounts). However, in reality, the computers themselves are not much more useful for anything other than playing music, watching movies, checking emails, visiting web sites, organising a few pictures, watching fancy screensavers all day, and that's about it. Doing anything serious with the machines (in terms of business or for work) is something you would have to question every time a Mac professional uses a Mac running the latest OS X.

Macs under the latest OS X version, if you intend to do anything serious with it, are a joke.

The list of problems and lack of attention to detail keeps growing

The lack of focus by the company on really looking for time-saving features in OS X El Capitan to benefit all users (instead of mucking around with silly things like re-designing OS X icons, making the background of the login screen look translucent, showing a black screen immediately on shutdown when the machine is really not quite fully shut down, and the list goes on, and on, and...) is truly mind-boggling. Here is another example.

For certain files of a particular file extension that you wish to associate them to a particular application, you would have to apply the Get Info (from the Finder's File menu) on one of the files. Fair enough. So you look under the section in the Get Info window called "Open with", select your application, and you should be able to click the Change All button to make the association. But what happens if OS X already shows the correct application? You would think by now, given how allegedly advanced and presumably mature OS X is, that you can click the Change All button straightaway, right? No, apparently not. You have to click the pop-up menu and re-select the application just to wake up OS X in order to remove the greyed-out appearance of the Change All button (and make it work). And only then can you establish the association. Huh? You've already got the right application showing. It is all there ready and waiting. Just make the button work. Why on earth would Apple not make this button work? Don't they use OS X enough to see this? It is just extra clicking users don't need to be doing when they are using a Mac for serious work. Or is Apple concerned about the really naive users who might accidentally click the button by mistake. But hold on, don't we have the option to Undo actions in the Finder?

For goodness sake, just make everything work, and do it easily for all users. Stop pandering to the lowest common denominator of Mac users. They are not dumb. They will know what to do. Just make sure there is an Undo option. Beyond that, focus on making life easier for all users rather than this silly pretending that OS X is faster and everything else is a so-called big improvement from OS X Yosemite. It really isn't. The company is just deluding itself and going overboard with its marketing hype about how great the latest OS X is. We all know the truth about OS X. Wake up. OS X is free, yes free! You are not selling a product to anyone. You are providing the best improvements that you are willing to provide the time for (if for any reason money is a major issue for the company, otherwise make OS X a truly awesome and best experience for everyone).

And the biggest problem of all — you can't save files, or you can't be guaranteed of knowing you have saved the files correctly under OS X El Capitan

As another example, try deleting PDF pages in Preview.app. In those moments when Preview.app decides to work and save the file, you will discover that the pages are not deleted in another app. For example, open the file in Adobe Acrobat or some other PDF reader/editor package and you think Preview.app did nothing to delete the pages. Open the file again in Preview.app, and it claims the pages were deleted. Okay, so quit Preview.app and re-launch it. It still shows the pages were deleted. Open it in Adobe Acrobat and the pages are there. Next, quit Adobe Acrobat and re-launch it. Open the file, and incredibly the pages were deleted. The idiotic nature of OS X in keeping information in active RAM even when files are closed is affecting how other apps work. It is showing how OS X is not worth the upgrade. It is more trouble than it is worth. Perhaps one day, when enough apps are optimised to work with OS X, perhaps it might be better. But then you have got the problem of Apple changing OS X for the next upgrade, and you are back on the treadmill of constantly keeping up to get things working in a stable and predictable way.

And Apple wonders why not enough users are upgrading their OS X. The writing is on the wall...just read it.

Avoid FireFox 40.0.4 to 42.x

If you are keen to download new apps online (hopefully optimised for OS X El Capitan) in an attempt to solve some of the OS X issues described above, don't use FireFox versions from 40.0.4 to 43.0.2. There is a glitch (or a welcome feature in the minds of some major software manufacturers) of not allowing users to download large files from any online source. As one MacUpdate.com user said:

"The downloading issue with large files that was broken with FF 41 still persists [in FireFox 42]. This is getting to be pretty serious - as security issues have been addressed but a lot of us cannot use post FF 40.0.3 versions of the browser because it breaks large-file downloading... I opened a trouble report on this some time ago and did some work on trying to nail it down, but this is one for the FF developers."

Perhaps the new aim here (as MacUpdate.com is now following) is to let the software manufacturers provide their own installer app to help users download properly the "properly paid" apps (just in case some users might be grabbing illegal copies from other web sites).

Is this the reason for all the OS X problems?

Make sure you have plenty of hard disk space

Due to the inability of OS X to measure how much space is left before executing a save on a file or else the file will be corrupted (worse if you have an app like Preview.app that automatically saves even if all you want to do is close a window), the same is true for FileMaker Pro database files. No matter how good the Recovery function of FileMaker Pro might be, forget it. The application will try to check for file consistency and everything might look fine, but this is not true. Don't believe anything of what the application says until you actually open the file and check the records. You will be told on opening it to recover the file. You can apply the Recover option under the File menu. Unfortunately it will not salvage your database file. Tables may appear to be recovered and data would seem to have been transferred over, but opening the recovered file will show the records are missing. Recovery is not perfect. The original file is permanently damaged because the database and OS X cannot communicate with each other to confirm hard disk space remaining. It just goes ahead and saves data no matter what.

This is why Apple loves new and naive Mac users who stick to Apple's recommended and already prepared single hard disk partition and use Apple's own organising folders for documents, pictures, music etc. Multiple partitions is better and more secure for professionals, but you risk the likelihood of running out of hard disk space and the dreaded file corruption problem. Apple really does not understand how to produce a professional OS X for professionals. It can only produce an amateur OS X for Mac newbies.

No wonder professional Mac users think OS X is the butt of so many jokes in the IT industry.

Printing issues continue with OS X El Capitan

Just to further illustrate the ludicrous nature of Apple's OS X for professional use, we are still not able to save every configurable option available for printing as a preset. If you set up the configuration options for printing in a certain way, save the options as a preset, and then select the preset again the next time you need it, you will quickly realise how the configuration options are not set exactly as you saved them last time.

One saving grace in all of this is that printing from Word appears to show less options so it takes the simpler route for printing, and in nearly all cases it is correct (since the only thing to configure is the third-party printer manufacturer's own special printing features, which at least they get saved in a preset). But print from a PDF or other file format and you get presented with additional configuration options from Apple in the Print dialog box. Unfortunately those extra options do affect the way the document gets porinted, so they must be configured. Take the time to set it up how you want it as well as checking the third-party printer manufacturer's special printing features and options, and save it as a preset in the hope you can re-use all the settings in the exact same way. You come back later when you realise you need to print another document. Thinking every is ready, you select the preset again. Remarkably, simple things such as the pop down menu for Paper Size and whether to Scale to Fit or just Scale to a specific size is suddenly changed to Apple's own default values, not yours as you originally set it. In other words, saving the printing options as a preset will not store all the extra printing options presented by Apple. And these additional settings do actually make a difference. If they are not set right, printing is not exactly as you expect no matter what you do to the third-party printing options and you will constantly have to remember to check the settings to ensure they are right again each time the preset is selected. What a waste of time.

That's why professionals must use a specialized "Fiery" print server type of software to properly store the print settings separately printed because Apple cannot figure out how professionals work on a Mac to achieve the goals they must do. The company is so focused on simplifying OS X to such an extent that more and more professionals feel they have to be sucking thumbs when dealing with an amateurish OS, even at version 10.11. Come on Apple, get OS permanently fixed for all times. What more does an OS need for users to do their work in the 21st century?

How to improve the speed of El Capitan

Apart from buying the latest Mac to get the extra speed, which we don't advise unless you are happy to fork out extra cash to boost Apple profits, we recommend another approach.

The approach we will explain below is only for those Mac users who have adequate RAM (i.e., 16GB or higher) and only if you make it a habit of regularly saving your personal data files and again before putting the computer to sleep (especially on laptops). The technique involves turning off the sleep image file creation and cache files. While a number of people will not recommend this, it is only because you have to be on your toes at all times to know what to do. It requires you to be in a habit of regularly saving your data to the magnetic hard drive (where you will benefit most from this approach) or solid state flash drive. If you are not, do not attempt this yourself.

Disable sleepimage file creation

  1. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder (if it is not already open).
  2. Type the following text into Terminal:

    sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 0

  3. Press the Return key and type your admin password if needed.
  4. Remove the old sleepimage file by typing the following text into Terminal and pressing the Return key:

    sudo rm /private/var/vm/sleepimage

For those unfamiliar with the sleepimage file and what it does, this file is created by OS X for the sole purpose of retaining a copy of what's in your RAM. Why, you may ask? It is only used when the laptop goes to sleep, keeping whatever data was held in RAM on the hard disk. On waking up the laptop, the RAM is refreshed with a clean version of the data to ensure no corruption to the RAM data has occurred (very rare to happen in this day and age, but should you decide to buy more RAM, always go for the highest quality RAM cards available, such as those from Kingston or some other reputable manufacturer, and you will never have this problem) and so allow you to continue using your opened apps and personal data files straightaway. A great idea in principal, except it does slow down everything on your Mac in updating this sleepimage file. Stopping OS X from creating and updating the sleepimage file will not only increase the speed of your Mac (forcing OS X to do everything in the RAM in the standard traditional way without all the extra fanfare of protecting your data at every instant), but you will reclaim whatever lost hard disk space was taken to create the sleepimage file. In other words, if your RAM is 16GB, you will have an additional 16GB of space on your hard disk to use as you wish.

Of course, the only thing you must remember when implementing this technique is that if you, at any time, fail to save your personal data files in the time you have got on your battery and your computer suddenly goes to sleep and loses enough power not to be able to keep the RAM ticking away with holding its data, you will lose the data altogether in RAM. It means anything you have worked on in the personal data files that has not been saved, including new settings established in your opened applications will disappear into the digital ether. To avoid this, make sure you save the information in RAM regularly to the hard disk. This will ensure the latest copy of your personal data files is always on the hard disk (this is where you will not lose your data even in the event of losing all power). And if you know it is unlikely you will have access to power to recharge your computer's battery because it is very low, we recommend you also quit the applications gracefully and shutdown the computer. No harm if you don't, but it is better to do so in case you have configured your applications in a certain way and want to retain this configuration the next time you launch the applications. It really is up to you how you wish to work on your computer. But remember, the above approach is strictly for people with high amounts of RAM and a panache for keeping their information saved on a regularly basis to avoid any issues of data loss.

If you ever wish to reverse the above process, you can re-enable the creation of the sleepimage file by typing in Terminal (and pressing the Return key):

sudo pmset -a hibernatemode 3

For advanced users, there is also the option to disable virtual memory and force OS X to do everything in RAM. It prevents OS X from reaching a point where if there is not enough RAM to do its job as well as any applications you have opened, OS X will create a Swapfile on your hard disk or flash drive and regularly swap data between this swap file and your RAM for the parts of the RAM that are needed to run and do the jobs OS X and your open applications commonly need to perform for you to do your personal or business-related work. It is slightly more riskier than the previous method we have just discussed as problems can occur if the RAM is filled up and there is no more inactive memory available (including not having access to a swapfile). The result of this is OS X could suddenly slow down and even hang. If you see this happen, make sure you have saved everything and quit at least one (or preferably more) open application, and use a memory cleaner or purger (as OS X Mavericks, Yosemite and El Capitan have a habit of not letting go of the data in RAM to make this portion of the RAM inactive again). Afterwards, you should be fine.

We must stress once more that this technique is only for people who are well-organised in the management of their own data and have high amounts of RAM to see the benefits. You have to be the sort of person who knows what he/she is doing.

To disable virtual memory in OS X

  1. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder (if it is not already open).
  2. Type the following text into Terminal:

    sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist

  3. Press the Return key and type your admin password if needed.

To enable virtual memory in OS X

  1. Open Terminal.app in the Utilities folder (if it is not already open).
  2. Type the following text into Terminal:

    sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist

  3. Press the Return key and type your admin password if needed.

There are other methods to help speed up your Mac, such as disabling the Dashboard completely, but we will let you see how you go with the above approaches. We are sure you will see improvements in speed on your Mac that you thought was not possible until now. Enjoy!

NOTE: If you use EyeTV for watching free-to-air TV, you will benefit from the above techniques of disabling the sleepimage and swap files. Have you noticed the way the TV picture will suddenly freeze for a few seconds, unfreeze and shows the moving picture fine for about 10 seconds, freeze once again, unfreeze and so on? This is due to the constant access of OS X to the swap file and sleepimage file. Disabling these files will solve the problem.

OS X 10.11.2

Released on 8 December 2015 without too much fanfare. Superficially the company is prepared to highlight the positive aspects of the improvements done by focussing on the Apple apps and networking it has fixed as well as the ubiquitous security improvements needed in virtually every update released by the company so far (yes, despite the hype of a secure operating system thanks to System Integrity Protection, it is still not secure — well, only slightly more secure now).

Among the apps and networks mentioned as having had some improvements done to them in this update include WiFi (strangely it was unreliable up until now, so it was likely to be because Apple had recently upped the power levels to the network card under OS X El Capitan version 10.11.0 thinking this will solve WiFi problems only to create new problems when the card got too hot. Then the card will drop the signal and you cannot turn off and on the card until a fresh restart is applied, only for the problem to repeat after a short period of use), bluetooth (connection to bluetooth devices should finally be maintained without dropping off...until the next OS X update or upgrade comes around to repeat the problem), Handoff and AirDrop (mainly in terms of greater reliability), Mail (to fix an issue that could see messages deleting in an offline Exchange account), and iCloud Photo Sharing (Apple loves to see what you look like and who your friends and family are through a system called Live Photos, so this part has been vastly improved mainly for Apple's sake).

Security improvements are fairly wide ranging, mainly with concerns relating to malicious attacks by hackers exploiting poor coding in iBooks.app, various parts of the system kernel, SIP, bluetooth, and heaps more.

The full combo update file is approximately 1.4GB in size.

Nice to see that Apple employees have free internet access at work to download these sorts of large update files with ease.

Where has the "trash files securely" option disappeared?

With the unquestionable effort by Apple to improve security in recent times, there seems to be a glaring omission of a rather important security feature in OS X El Capitan. It was called "Empty Trash Securely". You know, when you go under the Finder preferences, you can choose this option and what it does is every time you empty the trashcan of unwanted files, OS X writes over and re-writes several times the place where the files once existed. Worked great with magnetic drives (HDDs). Now there is something a bit odd about OS X El Capitan and the advent of solid state drives (SSDs). Not that it is impossible to find alternative solutions when performing this miraculous job of "securely trashing files". However, it seems that for some reason Apple has decided it is better to take the simplest route of not improving the feature (or making sure it works). Instead, remove the feature altogether (without prior warning or discussion). Strange considering all the effort by Apple to improve security on OS X (but not strange considering Apple keeps a lot of changes secret, so who knows what's lurking in the code of OS X for Apple to achieve its own agenda).

So why has this useful option been removed? Very good question. There is talk by some people that having this ability to secrely trash files will shorten the lifespan of SSDs. Unless there is something unique about SSDs that make them more vulnerable and likely to experience a shorter life (something that the public does not know about and manufacturers of these drives are doing everything they can to minimise this wear-and-tear issue), the same would have been true of magnetic drives as well. So what's different now? And why is the option to securely trash files been removed?

Without a clear explanation from Apple other than surreptitiously removing certain features, some people are treating this as a security threat after someone tested how secure the trash method is prior to El Capitan and discovered sensitive information in the files is still being retained on SSDs. As mentioned at http://www.cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2015-5901:

"The Secure Empty Trash feature in Finder in Apple OS X before 10.11 improperly deletes Trash files, which might allow local users to obtain sensitive information by reading storage media, as demonstrated by reading a flash drive."

Perhaps the manufacturers of SSDs are not allowing for a proper and secure deletion of the files because there really is a problem with the longevity of these storage devices? Any write process performed on an existing file is being thwarted by the way the manufacturers have implemented a scheme to maximise the life expectancy of SSDs by moving the write process to different "unused" areas of storage (the longer these areas have not been used, the more likely it will be used to even out the wear-and-tear on all storage locations in the flash memory). Even when you don't want to securely write over the file to delete it properly but just want to save some data into the file with the help of a standard application such as Microsoft Word, the original file is not overwritten but the space used is opened up, whereas the new file containing the latest changes are stored in another location. This is why the file is never lost when you are using an application. SSDs just make you think the same file is being used to save everything when, in reality, the entire file is re-built and stored elsewhere and the original older file is just "held" in the location until such time as the SSDs decide to write over it. Until then, you are vulnerable to data recovery by whatever sophisticated means are available to certain individuals and companies.

If this is true, then maybe the Apple implemented version of securely trashing files does work (or if it didn't, Apple could easily fix the problem). Apple only decided to remove the option because it knows there is a problem with the longevity of SSDs and thought it would be less work not to bother fixing or keeping the option. This must be the explanation. Because we already know the alternative solutions on offer to securely trash files (and presumably works with SSDs). As this article at OSXDaily.com, published on 12 October 2015, shows there exists another solution that works with the latest OS X. The technique involves using Terminal.app in the Utilities folder and applying one simple UNIX command.


HOW TO SECURELY DELETE A FILE

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. To delete a file, type:

    srm -v

    but don't press the Return key.

  3. Drag and drop the file to be deleted into the Terminal command. The path to the file will be automatically filled in for you.
  4. Press the Return key. The file will be securely deleted.


HOW TO SECURELY DELETE A FOLDER AND ITS CONTENTS

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. To delete a folder, type:

    srm -rv

    but don't press the Return key.

  3. Drag and drop the folder to be deleted into the Terminal command. The path to the folder will be automatically filled in for you.
  4. Press the Return key. The folder and its contents will be securely deleted.

 

A word of warning: do not apply the above commands if you are not confident with using Terminal.app. Any mistakes could potentially see the wrong files get deleted. And if that happens, there is no way you can recover the files using any special utility. Unless you have stored the files on a separate backup drive (you should be doing this regularly, almost religiously), this technique does permanently destroy the files. Not only that, but this technique presumably works perfectly fine with SSDs under OS X El Capitan (although one needs to get confirmation on this claim).

And if you want another solution, try the secure erasing of the empty or free space option using Terminal (another feature that has been removed from Apple's Disk Utility) according to this MacWorld.com article.

Of course, removing a security option with no explanation does raise a bigger concern for the public: just how big a problem is the longevity of SSDs? Is anyone willing to admit a flaw in the SSD technology? Probably not, for fear that the public may boycott the purchase of such devices if they knew the truth. Maybe this is why there are no optical backup drives or something else that is more reliable over the long term? And at any rate, if SSDs do have a limited lifespan, what better way is there to get people to buy new software and computers than by reducing the lifespan of all IT tools. Seriously, they get replaced every few years. So why bother making anything that lasts for centuries?

Or perhaps Apple is preparing for something in its next OS X release to be able to read data off the SSDs even when the files have been trashed? Certainly it would be the most brazen and amazing way yet of achieving its user profiling work. Just so long as the public does not know about it, right?

OS X 10.11.3 Update

There must be a bit of a lull moment in Apple for the start of 2016. Not much to do. All the focus on making things pretty to help boost sales at Christmas time are now over. Thanks to buyers who made the plunge to buy up big on Apple products, the company executives (and shareholders) can enjoy swimming in the latest profits. So what now? As users are unlikely to continue buying in great numbers, the question is, what else can Apple do now?

Hold on! Why not address the bugs that users have been complaining for quite some time. Sounds like a good idea, except this is not an all out effort to quash every known bug users have mentioned. Even the long-standing bug of Preview still retaining data from the previous file that should have been closed and cleared out of memory is still interfering with the process of adding new data to new files. Until the data is removed and added again, there seems to be no solution from Apple to this problem. It happens with Preview, Adobe Acrobat and Safari to mention a few. As a MacUpdate user said on 19 January 2016:

"Safari seems to run smoother but the caching problem is still not fixed, i.e. it doesn't go back to the last version of a page visited but to an earlier version."

Words to this effect remain common among the more experienced users of Preview.app and Adobe Acrobat when handling PDF files. But it also extends to copying an AIFF sound file for pasting into a video file using QuickTime 7 or X. You know the file has been created with the new information for the sound because you have just updated, rendered and exported the file from an application like, say, After Effects. And you can see in the original composition how the sound has been changed. But if you check the file exported in QuickTime that has remained open and had been pasting an earlier version of an AIF sound file that you know has been updated, somehow QuickTime still cannot play the new AIF file (apparently given the same file name as before). So you think you have not rendered and exported the file properly. Wrong. Quit QuickTime and relaunch it and suddenly you will realise it can play the correct and latest AIF file. It goes to show that Apple has so much crap in the way OS X manages its memory even at OS X Mountain Lion version that even after reaching OS X El Capitan, Apple is unable to fix something as basic, yet critical, aspect as this when working on a Mac.

Certainly it is not for the lack of trying by users to mention the problem to Apple. The poor memory management problem has been around since OS X Mountain Lion (mainly focused on Preview.app at the time, but much worse in OS X El Capitan). So, it seems as if Apple is selecting which bugs to fix, and which ones to leave behind or not do anything about as if this memory problem is meant to be a feature that Apple wants to see when retaining data in memory.

This observation appears to be the case after the release of OS X 10.11.3 update (now 1.34GB).

Of the bugs Apple has chosen to fix in this update, they are mainly more of the "stop malicious users running arbitrary code" in selected OS X system components (e.g., extensions). This is just another way of saying, "We won't tell you exactly what the problems we have found or learned from others, but we have managed to fix the ones we think needs addressing (i.e., those mentioned by security experts)", or "At Apple, our programming is still poor, but at least it is getting better now". The security improvements brought together into Security Update 2016-001 and now merged into the OS X 10.11.3 update are mainly with AppleGraphicsPowerManagement, Disk Images (improved memory handling to avoid data corruption), IOAcceleratorFamily, IOHIDFamily, IOKit, the Kernel, libxslt, stopping a quarantined application from overriding OSA script libraries installed by the user, and syslog. Much of this involves the system files. Finally, there are the latest security improvements to Safari as of version 9.0.3.

On a general level where users are more likely to see visible improvements to the things they do on a Mac, anyone with a Mac connected to certain unspecified 4K displays will now wake up from sleep properly.

And a less noticeable one for users is the decision by Apple to keep thiird-party.pkg file receipts stored in /var/db/receipts when upgrading from OS X Yosemite.

Not exactly an overwhelming set of improvements. Either that, or Apple is hiding a mountain of bug fixes that it is unwilling to officially mention. But given the condition of OS X when it was first released and the subsequent two updates, and with the memory handling problem of older data still being kept in active memory after an application is quit or a file is closed, every bit of improvement will have to be seen as a necessary one no matter how minor at the official level they may seem.

The case for upgrading to OS X El Capitan is still not a compelling one for enough existing and experienced Mac users. As a result, all that Apple can do at the moment is hope that enough newbies will buy their products at Christmas time, and enough third-party developers will make enough software to work only on this OS X version and see whether enough users will be enticed to make the upgrade. Otherwise, Apple is truly in trouble with this latest offering. The only other option left is for Apple to add new features to OS X. However, those kinds of things only come with a new upgrade. Unless Apple is desperate, we should not expect new features to come until OS X 10.12.0 is released.

No doubt we shall see how things pan out for the company in 2016.

OS X 10.11.4 Update

Released on Tuesday 22 March 2016, this one has been touted as being slightly quicker in its responsiveness to users accessing the Dock, clicking on menus, and other basic superficial functions with apps and the Finder. Not a massive difference, but it is there. A test will need to be done soon to check whether the actual total processing time to complete a task is quicker under this update as this had been the area OS X El Capitan seriously lagged behind compared to OS X Mountain Lion. Further details will arrive soon. In the meantime, Apple has chosen to focus its attention on security fixes (now hidden from the official list of improvements provided by the company) and the following issues:

  • Adds the ability to passcode-protect notes containing personal data in Notes.
  • Adds the ability to sort notes alphabetically, by date created, or date modified in Notes.
  • Adds the ability to import Evernote files into Notes.
  • Adds support for sharing Live Photos between iOS and OS X via AirDrop and Messages.
  • Addresses an issue that may cause RAW images to open slowly in Photos.
  • Adds the ability for iBooks to store PDFs in iCloud, making them available across all your devices.
  • Fixes an issue that prevented loading Twitter t.co links in Safari.
  • Prevents JavaScript dialogs from blocking access to other webpages in Safari.
  • Fixes an issue that prevented the VIPs mailbox from working with Gmail accounts.
  • Fixes an issue that caused USB audio devices to disconnect.
  • Improves the compatibility and reliability of Apple USB-C Multiport Adapters.

If these are the only changes made, one would have to conclude that the main improvements are to do with encrypting text in Notes.app prior to pushing the information through to iOS devices (Apple has read and noticed enough examples through its servers of people transferring sensitive notes to the point where some people in the company felt it is better to look like it is being serious about improving its security for users, and so give them greater confidence to use Apple portable devices as well as Macs for all their activities — together with the recent effort by American authorities to encourage Apple to release personal details of Apple users to help with terrorism or other types of investigations). Don't expect this encryption to be of a high quality to stop the CIA or other people accessing the data. It is mainly there to make it difficult for ordinary citizens and business people to decipher with available tools. Beyond that, simple fixes to make the internet, mail and other network related activities easier and more reliable was the order of the day from the company. And apart from a fix for an audio issue and opening RAW images in Apple's own Photo.app, not a lot of other improvements can be seen. Then again, what goes on under-the-bonnet is something people will never know about. So who knows precisely what Apple has done.

For now the reported improvements are necessary to make OS X El Capitan slightly more stable and reliable. Not perfect, and still far too many unnecessary or "unwanted" features to bloat OS X and so make it run slow, but it is nice to see it feels as if it is a little quicker (and hopefully more stable) in its responsiveness when it comes to basic user actions with the interface compared to when this monstrosity was first released in 2015. Whether this responsiveness translates to better performance during intensive processing activities is another question still to be answered.

You can download the full OS X 10.11.4 combo update from here.

UPDATE
23 March 2016

Permissions set for certain files as well as changes to the support of certain third-party devices appear to be affected by this OS X 10.11.4 update. Things like external hard drives that used to be accessible under OS X 10.11.3 or earlier may suddenly not be accessible. And some audio headphones may need a new driver update (a little tricky perhaps if your headset is a little too old in Apple's eyes, something like 3 years or more is about the cut-off point)

As for stability of Preview.app, this is not forthcoming. One would have to assume this may come in the next upgrade of OSX. Then again, we can all believe in the fairies for all anyone cares.

So far general use of OSX is not revealing any obvious gremlins, apart from the inactive memory retention issue.

UPDATE
22 April 2016

Processing times have not improved when using Adobe Acrobat and other apps. Also after a period of use, simple tasks such as ejecting disks from the desktop can take 10 to 15 seconds or more. Try doing this in OS X Mountain Lion and you can see it is much faster and consistent. NOTE: Spotlight indexing has been turned off in all machines, so one cannot use Spotlight as an excuse for the slowness of ejecting disks in OS X El Capitan.

UPDATE
24 April 2016

OS X will occasionally at random times during the processing of data in other apps suddenly launch iTunes.app for no apparent reason. Only problem is, iTunes contains no music files or anything else set up in it. Instead, you will be greeted with a license agreement and for you to click the "I accept" button. When you see this, choose "Cancel" and stick to your preferred third-party music/video playing software tool that you can choose to use when you are ready and need to have it open).

OS X 10.11.5 Update

Released on 16 May 2016, this one is not overwhelming in terms of significant changes as far as can be discerned from the official notes provided by Apple. In an attempt to make the fixes look more significant, Apple has provided more details of the security fixes. Quite a lot of details. However, the number of areas fixed are not exactly great. On the non-security front, unexpected behaviour relating to Spotlight trying to constantly access the Internet for results causing a spike in the CPU time, not able to disable shutdown function while a user is logged in, and not showing all NetBoot images configured on the server within the Startup Disk system preference pane, have been addressed. Not mentioned has been the inclusion of an updated Safari 9.1.1 and Apple iTunes 12.4 as part of this update.

So far, Apple thinks OS X El Capitan is close to perfect as the company can ever reach with it. It means that Apple will probably now look toward developing and releasing the next OS X version, known uninspiringly as OS X 10.12.

For users, the slowing down of OS X over time and when performing new functions in apps, including launching apps is a major problem (and especially for those with traditional magnetic hard drives). Although once the cache files and other log files have been updated to recognise what's the latest thing that needs to be done and what the user is trying to do and the choice of apps being used, the process will quicken significantly. This issue together with a number of other bugs still present in OS X and the way the inactive RAM is not released properly causing some apps (e.g., FileMaker Pro 14) to suddenly quit or slow down dramatically in performance are things that Apple will not fix in OS X El Capitan.

Question is, will it improve in the next OS X release? Well, only if you believe in the fairies, of course!

Mac Developers may benefit from genuine performance improvements in OS X El Capitan

We are testing this aspect as we speak, but after deciding to install and use Homebrew to update a few tools that come with OS X, there seems to be a noticeable improvement in the performance of OS X in all areas. Perhaps this is a coincidence? For those unfamiliar with Homebrew, this is a tool used by Mac developers to install and/or update specialised tools that come standard with OSX as well as add additional tools useful in building new apps.

One way to find out is to try it yourself. You will need to open Terminal.app, install Homebrew, and update certain tools used by OS X.With Terminal.app open (located in /Applications/Utilities/), we will use the Ruby tool built-into OS X to install Homebrew: Type the following Terminal command (or just copy and paste from this page) and press the Enter key:

ruby -e "$(curl –fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"

Wait for the installation to complete. You will see the dollar sign ($) re-appear telling you Terminal is ready to accept the next command. Next, we update Ruby itself as it is often an old version supplied by Apple. So type in Terminal:

brew install ruby

This now uses Homebrew via the word "brew" to make the task of updating tools in OS X much easier. After Ruby has been updated, try this command:

brew update && brew upgrade `brew outdated`

This will not only re-check the version of Homebrew and update it if it finds a more up-to-date version at http://github.com (the repository for all specialist open source tools used by Developers, including OS X), but also any tools used by OS X or by third-party Developers themselves.

It may also be worth updating Python, SqLite, and cURL using the commands (no specific order):

brew install python

brew install sqlite

brew install curl

There are other tools you can update, but for now, try this with Homebrew, and restart your computer. Do you see any improvements in the performance of your machine? And does Preview.app seem a little more stable?

OS X 10.11.6 Update

Released on May 18, 2016, OS X 10.11.6 update (1.56GB) focuses on bug fixes and security improvements. No external interface improvements can be seen. There is also talk this could be the final update for users of older Macs (such as the late 2009 models) to run OS X El Capitan. For other users, one more update may be provided before OS X Sierra is released later this year.

Definitely no bug fixes for Preview.app, especially for the retaining of data in inactive RAM. In fact, the problem with Preview.app has got so bad now that you have to quit it a couple of times and eventually re-launching will clear whatever problems it has in order for it to draw the window properly and show the document (usually PDFs). And it is harder to insert PDF documents (even with 16GB of RAM and plenty of hard disk space) through a simple drag-and-drop approach. The app tends to fail quickly even after a fresh restart, and you may have trouble inserting another PDF document after the first time or it fails to insert at all on the first occasion unless you re-launch the app. Expect this problem to continue into macOS Sierra when it is released at the end of 2016.

And the biggest dumb ass feature of auto-saving the document on closing the window in Preview.app has never been fixed to this day and ever since Preview first appeared 10 years ago. Even with the latest update, Preview.app cannot save the document in a separate file before replacing the original, nor will it let you decide whether to close the window without saving or not. So if you run out of power in the middle of saving a large document and your computer does not go to sleep, a restart of the machine will show the document is corrupted and cannot be repaired with Adobe Acrobat or anything else. Just as bad is you do run out of hard disk space and you don't know it. There is no checking performed by Preview.app prior to actually saving the file, Stupid is truly the best word to describe this app. Yes, it might be free, but it is the app that Apple should not have built if it cannot do the job properly. Just drop it altogether from the next OS X version and let someone else provide the app with greater stability and reliability.

And here we have Apple wanting users to upgrade to the latest OS X. Big yawn!

Or perhaps this is Apple's way of saying, "Everything will be better when you upgrade to OS X Sierra."

How often have we heard that one before?

Hopefully everything else about OS X will be more stable for you.

UPDATE
3 August 2016

On a similar theme, Preview.app has a bad habit of suddenly disappearing from the Dock resulting in messages appearing about a USB flash drive or DMG file not being able to eject after closing a file that was originally opened (and later closed) in Preview.app. Press Option Command ESC to select Preview.app and force quit it. Then you can do whatever you had originally intended to do but couldn't before.

Airmount 1.0.3

It is a long time coming, but you can connect your Mac to your iPhone (and technically an iPad as well) wirelessly using Bluetooth and move files (video, music, pictures and text) back and forth between the two devices without ever needing to go through Apple's own servers or to grab a cable to connect the devices together and use iTunes. You won't see this coming from Apple! The freeware tool you can download for both Mac and iOS (unfortunately, the latter still requires you to access the Apple store although technically you should be able to wirelessly transfer applications to your iOS device, but it is interesting to see Apple has not stopped anyone from downloading and using this product, which is nice) is called Airmount 1.0.3. very simple to use and quickly shows you which iOS devices are accessible on the wireless network. It is about time consumers are given back the power to control their own lives and protect their own privacy and not leave it in the hands of other companies.

Apple Secutity Update 2016-001

Unless you download all sorts of attachments from unknown people and visit strange web sites, this one is not absolutely critical. If you do update using the whopping 414.9MB file (mostly an updated Safari 9.1.3, plus a little extra security for the system itself, and a firmware update if required for your computer), beware that users have reported issues with their "nvidia drivers for unflashed graphics cards on 10.10.5" not working. It is recommended that you update those drivers via http://www.nvidia.com/download/driverResults.aspx/97606/en-us to complete the picture. For those users who are not technically-minded, run your System Information.app in the Utilities folder of the Applications folder. If you see anything in the video section suggesting Nvidia is used in your system, then update the Nvidia drivers. For everyone else, happy computing (and getting a real life too!). This update was released on 1 September 2016.

A breakdown of the components used in this update and where you can download them separately, check the following links:

Full Bundle Update:
http://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/50/35/031-75159/4vr88oyevm1r0p30oz6tx3ygo689whk1f4/FullBundleUpdate.pkg (18.8MB)

Firmware Update:
http://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/50/35/031-75159/4vr88oyevm1r0p30oz6tx3ygo689whk1f4/FirmwareUpdate.pkg (130.1MB)

Security Update 2016-001 for OS X 10.11.6:
http://swcdn.apple.com/content/downloads/50/35/031-75159/4vr88oyevm1r0p30oz6tx3ygo689whk1f4/SecUpd2016-001ElCapitan.pkg (265.2MB)

If you perform these updates manually, do them in the order shown. Or use the full Security Update 2016-001 file.

And if Apple waited less than 2 weeks more, users could have had Safari 10.0 already installed to fix more security bugs and other issues. At over 400MB for the security update, an extra 70MB more to install Safari 10.0 would not have made a lot of difference.

Running out of hard disk space

One of the reasons Apple loves newbie Mac users (the ones who purchase a Mac for the first time) is that they don't go around erasing the hard disk, partitioning it into smaller hard disks, installing a couple of OS X versions, and using the rest in whatever way the users like. As a result, Apple does not expect users to run out of space to store their stuff or worry about files getting corrupted if the space does run out. That is why Apple does not do enough testing of its products including OS X unless the Apple CEO discovers he has corrupted a file due to lack of space. Then he will say, "Yep, we better put a check on this to make sure people's files don't get corrupted." Otherwise, the average consumer on the street would have to rely heavily on backup external drives and some kind of backup software to automate the process in order to minimise this problem.

To this end, Apple has decided to provide a new feature in OS X in a strange attempt to help Mac users. It is the auto-saving of the last document version and any older versions. The place for storing all these versions has to be on the hard disk of your computer, not on an external drive. In newer OS X versions, this feature is done automatically and without any control by the user. In other words, the last version of the file you were working on will be saved and stored in an invisible folder called .DocumentRevisions-V100. You will find it at the root level of any hard disk.

But here lies the problem.When you do run out of space, there is a heightened risk of your latest document version being corrupted. This is especially true should you use Preview.app.

Geez, does this mean people can apply for compensation from Apple for all the lost files and income loss due to the corruption left behind by the Finder and app when it runs out of space thanks to this Apple feature we are forced to have turned on permanently?

Now even if you are very good at doing backups and don't need this automatic saving and versioning feature from Apple, there is no easy way of disabling it. Sure, you can try visiting the General system preference pane and there is an option that sort of looks like you can disable the feature called "Ask to keep changes when closing documents". Despite leaving the check box empty thinking no changes will be kept, somehow OS X continues to save a number of document versions in the invisible folder. So when, one day, you try to save something and thought you had plenty of space, well, there really isn't much space at all. You get a message saying the file could not be saved. You have a look at the hard disk where the file is suppose to be saved into. You see less than 5MB. Huh? You could have sworn you had 20GB of space on that hard disk. Where did it all go?

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Make sure to Save As or Export the document in your app before closing it in case the original file has been overwritten and corrupted when it ran out of hard disk space.

Here is a clue. Get a freeware utility called Invisibility Toggler 1.0 to show invisible files and folders. Open up the offending hard disk. Now do you notice a folder you can't open called ".DocumentRevisions-V100" just sitting in there? Surprise, surprise! OS X is still saving versions of the documents you were working on and for a long time too, until it has realised no more space is available. WTF? Okay, drag-and-drop this folder to the Trash. Don't empty the Trash. It is likely the Finder will spit out messages over and over again for each file in the invisible folder claiming it is still opened by another app. If you have Spotlight turned off using OnyX or some other utility, do the same for the invisible folder with the word "spotlight" in it. You don't need it.

Restart your Mac. On returning to the desktop, empty the trash. How is the remaining space on the hard disk looking? Amazing! More than 20GB of space suddenly returns like magic. So all the space you had (or thought was there) was completely dominated by Apple's own document versioning feature, presumably to make life easier when protecting your documents, but in fact being more of a PITA to the user when the feature is not needed. Yet you must be forced to accept this feature. Absolutely nothing an ordinary user can do to stop it.

To make it worse, you can't open the invisible file to find an older version of your document in case the original has been corrupted (probably by Preview.app). Sure, you have to change the permission to access it. However, even after going to the trouble of doing this, there is nothing useable to grab from it even though the data should be related to your own personal stuff. So all that space is wasted on whatever Apple wants to store for its own purposes.

Apple should be making this feature easy to access (and controlled) by the user. And if all that space is going to be wasted, make sure the files being kept are accessible and useable for the user, not for Apple. Or else the feature is pretty useless.

Does this mean there is nothing you can do to stop this Apple-centric assumption being placed on how you work on your Mac? Well, not quite. There is a way to deal with this problem. The recommendation we will give below should only be attempted if you are absolutely certain the document auto-saving and versioning feature is something you will not require (well, losing 20GB of space to this Apple feature is not something you would like to see, right?). The change will cause some apps (predominantly those from Apple...surprise, surprise!) to get upset temporarily when they suddenly realise they cannot save old versions, but once they are told to ignore and never show the message again, you can be assured of having the maximum space available on all your hard disks. The only thing you have to remember after making this change is to always backup your files.

Did you back up your files? Good. Let us go to the next step.

To disable Auto Save, Versions and Resume all at once (sorry, they are all integrated as one), open your Terminal.app in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder, and type (followed by a press of the Return key):

defaults write -g ApplePersistence -bool no

This simple change is drastic enough to affect all apps by stopping them from using Apple's own "auto saving and retaining versions of your document on your hard disk" feature. If you don't like how this global change affects so many apps (some of which may be critical for the type of work you do), you can go for an app-by-app approach. Try this command to disable the feature for, say, Preview.app:

defaults write -app 'preview' ApplePersistence -bool no

In either case, you should follow the above global command with this:

defaults write -app textedit AutosavingDelay -int 0

to complete the process. Applying the second command will stop TextEdit.app's sandbox environment from complaining when it tries to automatically save your stuff without your consent. Other than that, disabling this Apple feature should effectively restore the "Save As..." menu command in the way you would have expected for most apps (except Preview, iWork, and a few others). In other apps, you may need to choose the "Export..." menu command to act as the "Save As..." command. Finally, you may experience slightly longer than expected waiting times when you login to your computer.

To re-enable the feature, type these lines in the order shown, and pressing return key after each line:

defaults delete -app 'preview' ApplePersistence
defaults delete -g ApplePersistence
defaults delete -app textedit AutosavingDelay

Apple Security Update 2016-002

In the wake of the macOS 10.12.1 update, Apple has released Security Update 2016-002 for El Capitan. It is highly recommended that you backup your data first before applying this update (or make sure you have an alternative OS startup disk in case anything should go wrong).

Improvements are all to do with better memory handling and better validation checking for specific situations, such as running apps and opening PNG files which could contain maliciously-crafted code designed to arbitrarily run in memory and do thinks you have no control over (such as getting your OS to send personal data to a third-party).

These improvements only come if the company has a desire to fix things. With macOS Sierra already out, the desire is there to ensure the latest software is perceived as being reasonably secure and so encourage users to make the upgrade.

Apple Security Update 2016-003

Released on 16 December 2016, the security update provides relevant security fixes from the macOS Sierra 10.12.2 Update suitable for OS X El Capitan 10.11.6. Click here to download the update. It will take a while to do its thing. Several restarts together with one progress bar sitting there doing nothing for a long time until the machine eventually decides to restart. Give it a good 30 minutes to apply the update, and make sure your machine has a reliable power supply to use during this time. After applying it, you are not quite finished. You could probably ignore any further updates. However, Apple recommends one more update. Download the Apple Security Update 2016-003 Supplemental Update and apply it. Apparently it must be in this order. Or better still, Apple should have provided a single Security Update and call it 2016-004. Saves users all the hassles.

Apple Security Update 2017-002

This OS X security update (710.6 MB) addresses numerous memory corruption issues with better memory handling solutions, as well as better "input sanitation" to handle improper validation processes. Takes a long time to apply the improvements with numerous restarts, a strange beep sound, but eventually you will get to the desktop. Do not restart or switch off if your computer appears unresponsive.

Apple Security Update 2017-003

This one (763.9MB) provides more critical security updates (covered in the macOS Sierra 10.12.6 update). The fixes are mainly to plug-up avenues by which malicious and carefully-crafted code can run without adequate security measures. There are also some performance improvements to be had from this particular update. Why this should be the case isn't clear, but if you wish to experience the improvement on your own computer, we recommend you apply the following steps:

  1. Backup to a separate disk (outside your computer) all mission-critical files and apps (mandatory!).
  2. Launch the latest OnyX for your macOS version (in this case El Capitan).
  3. In Maintenance tab, verify the structure of the system files on your startup disk. You should receive a clean bill of health (if not, don't apply the security update — it is time to get a new hard disk and/or computer, or you take the risk of re-installing macOS and hope everthing is fine again. Ha!).
  4. In the Maintenance tab, execute Permissions to fix up any file permission issues.
  5. In the Cleaning tab, run through the cleaning procedure for System, User, Internet (optional, or else you may have to re-establish automatic access to certain sites), Fonts, Logs and Misc. After each one, just Close the message about restarting until you get to the Misc tab, then restart your computer.
  6. When you are back to the desktop, and with the power cord plugged in and providing uninterrupted power supply, run the Security Update 2017-003 package.
  7. Be patient. The update process can take a while. And don't be fooled by the initial estimated time to install. It will repeat with each sub-update process. So total time could be anywhere up to 25 minutes (in most cases less than 10 minutes, but no guarantee).
  8. You should finally get back to the desktop. Noticed any performance improvements?

There is also a separate 73.2MB Safari 10.1.2 update (not provided in the Security Update 2017-003). If you use Safari (why?) for internet access, you should update the browser as soon as possible. For macOS Sierra users, this should be included as standard in the macOS 10.12.6 update, together with iTunes 12.6.2.

For El Capitan and other users, a separate iTunes 12.6.2 installer package became available a day later. At nearly 285MB, this is pretty big for what is suppose to be an MP3 music player with a bit of video thrown in — you can do the same in FileMaker Pro in under 10MB e.g., music.fmp12 in SUNRISE Contacts 2017, and even if you add a plug-in to handle the iTunes store, it would still not reach beyond 25MB, so there is definitely a lot of other stuff going on inside this Apple version of a music player.

Good luck to those who still use iTunes.

And now back to life...