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Photo: Courtesy Apple
Photo: Courtesy Apple

Get your Mac ready for the OS X El Capitan

Here's how you can ensure a smooth upgrade to the new operating system on iMac desktops and MacBooks

Apple has confirmed that its next operating system (OS) for the Mac platform will be available for download later today. The update will be available at the Mac App Store on the machine itself, and a notification will pop up when it is ready for download. Called OS X 10.11 El Capitan, it will succeed the OS X Yosemite. Here’s everything you should know before installing the new software.

Can my machine run the OS X El Capitan?

Chances are, it can. Apple has confirmed a fairly detailed list of various iterations of the iMac and MacBook that will be able to download, install and run the latest OS. The interesting bit is, even devices dating back to 2007 have hardware that is capable of upgrading to the new OS.

The complete compatibility list is: iMac (mid 2007 or newer), MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer), MacBook (late 2008 aluminium, or early 2009 or newer), Mac Mini (early 2009 or newer), MacBook Pro (mid/late 2007 or newer), Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer) and Xserve (early 2009).

Basically, any Mac that already runs the OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.8), OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8), OS X Mavericks (10.9) or OS X Yosemite (10.10) can upgrade to the OS X El Capitan.

To check the compatibility of your Mac, click the Apple button on the upper-left corner of your Mac, and select About This Mac. You will find the OS information as well as the Mac’s year.

Storage space

There is no confirmation about how much space the El Capitan OS will consume on the hard-disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD). The current OS X 10.10 Yosemite needs around 8 GB to install, and it is expected that El Capitan would be around this mark. In case your Mac is running a lower storage space SSD, you should still not have too much of an issue fitting this in.

Also, El Capitan will require at least 2 GB of RAM on the Mac to run smoothly. However, you can be pretty sure that this requirement will be met by most compatible Macs. To be on the safe side, click the Apple button on the upper-left corner of your Mac, click About This Mac and check on the RAM installed.

How much will it cost?

Like the OS X Yosemite before it, El Capitan will also be available as a free upgrade. Head to the App Store on your Mac and download the new OS from there.

Should you back up the data before installing El Capitan?

Of course, you should. It is always safer to have a backup of files, documents and settings in case something goes wrong with the new installation. On the Mac, Apple makes it much simpler to save an as-is image of the entire system, including the OS, documents, images, music, apps and more, using a feature called Time Machine. All you need is an external hard drive that can be connected to the Mac using USB or Thunderbolt, and open Applications -> Utilities - > Time Machine. The only condition is that this drive’s capacity should be at least as much as the internal HDD/SSD in the Mac. The system will ask for your permission to convert the connected drive into a Time Machine backup drive. Once you hit yes, the system image will be created and copied. In the future, if you need to reinstall the OS at any point, you can simply plug this in and restore.

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