Apple released OS X 10.11.6 a few days ago.  Because macOS Sierra (OS X 10.12) is due out this Fall, I’m sure this will be the last update to El Capitan.  OS X 10.11.6 mostly addresses security issues, but also includes some stability and compatibly improvements.

I consider OS X 10.11.6 El Capitan just a stable as its predecessors: OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks and OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite.  All three are valid operating systems, and if all of your apps are functional, I don’t necessarily see a reason to upgrade any of them.  The most compelling reason to upgrade past OS X 10.9.5 is that Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac requires OS X 10.10 or newer.

If you do decide to upgrade a Mac running Mavericks or Yosemite to El Capitan, I strongly encourage you first:

  • Make sure that every single application that you use is patched to the latest version before upgrading, and while doing so also verify each application version is compatible with El Capitan. Upgrading OS X, and then dealing with applications not working because they are unpatched or incompatible, is a common mistake leading to hours/days worth of frustration. This exercise may also uncover major expenses you hadn’t planned on.  Example: Adobe Creative Suite (CS) needs to be upgraded to Adobe Creative Cloud (CC).  Read my post about this here.
  • Make sure you have a full backup of the Mac saved to an external drive prior to upgrading (either with Time Machine or more preferably Carbon Copy Cloner). Upgrading OS X is a one-way path if you don’t have a backup, and those that experience major problems often wish they could just go back to the way things were. Having a full backup makes that possible.

Older Macs running OS X 10.6-10.8 should not be updated to El Capitan, period, unless done so by a qualified engineer.  Jumping that many versions almost always leads to major support issues.

As a rule of thumb, upgrading from one version of OS X to another is not something I’d recommend in a production environment without a compelling reason or solid upgrade plan. Reasons would include a necessary application that requires a newer version of OS X, security concerns with older versions of OS X, or upgrading all the Macs within a workgroup to keep them consistent for an imaging solution.

It’s human nature for people to want to upgrade because of new bells and whistles, but trust me… most new Mac features quickly lose their appeal and aren’t used much.  El Capitan’s top two new features are Split View and a streamlined Mission Control.  I challenge you to find anyone using either of these on a regular basis.