How to see software disabled by OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’

InstallElCapitanAs with previous versions of OS X, when you install OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’ the installer will detect any incompatible software you have on your system, and then disable it. However, by doing so OS X will not fully uninstall incompatible products, but instead only remove components that do not meet new requirements and which may cause instability if you run those programs.

Unfortunately this means that in some cases programs may still run and have every indication that they are working correctly, but will eventually experience problems as they try to call on the components that OS X has disabled.

To help you understand what programs have been affected by these changes and take steps to re-implement them, you have several resources available to you:

1. Application Icons

In most cases applications will remain in your Applications folder even if they are out of date and will not run on the current OS build. However, in cases where the app is identified by the system as not being able to run, you should see the application icon show with a no-entry (circle with a slash) symbol overlay. In these cases you can manually trash the app and then replace it if desired, or contact its developer for uninstallation procedures.

Broken apps in OS X

If an app is broken, it will show up in the Applications folder with a no-entry symbol over its icon. You can look into updating or removing these app versions.

2. The Disabled Software folder

This folder will appear at the root of your boot drive (ie, Macintosh HD), and will contain kernel extensions and other core components that are out of date and which may cause instability for your Mac if allowed to run. If this folder exists, open it to review its contents and determine whether you wish to reinstall a compatible version of the software, or remove them and related components (utilities, preference panes, etc.) entirely. If present, you will likely see Kernel Extension (KEXT) files show up in this folder.

3. The System Integrity Protection quarantine folder

When you upgrade to El Capitan, OS X will save system components that do not comply with its new System Integrity Protection feature in a separate quarantine folder structure, so they will still exist on your system but just not be accessible to run as they did in OS X Yosemite. The folder containing these files will be located here:

Macintosh HD > Library > SystemMigration > History > Migration-UUID > QuarantineRoot

Note that in this folder structure, the folder Migration-UUID will have a long UUID string of characters (instead of the word “UUID”) to uniquely identify this quarantine instance.

El Capitan SIP Quarantine folder

System Integration Protection will quarantine items here. In this view you can see commands installed by third-party software (such as BBEdit) have been isolated. However, in some cases you can just move these to alternative locations to still make use of them.

Open this folder to get a listing of system components that do not meet the specifications of Apple’s new System Integration Protection feature in OS X El Capitan. These may be small Terminal-based tools you downloaded and compiled manually, or installed with third-party software. In some cases they may be Apple-supplied components that are no longer used.

The folders that may show up are the following:

/usr (all contents except /usr/local)

If you note any commands or tools that you regularly use, then you can copy them from here into locations that are not monitored by Apple’s System Integration Protection. For instance, I use a custom folder hierarchy command called “tree” that I had previously placed in /usr/bin, so El Capitan quarantined it. However, since I know this is a simple standalone command, I can move it into /usr/local/bin, or place it in a separate folder and add the folder’s path to my shell profile.

8 thoughts on “How to see software disabled by OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      When in these folders they will not be used by the system at all, so you can remove them without any adverse effect on the system. They are only in these locations so you can know what they are and can take action to reinstate them if needed.

      1. Ian Weir

        Thanks for that.

        Would like to more about SIP which people running Mac’s with have a love/hate relationship with it. Is it going to be harder for developer to write apps for the Mac because of it or easier?

        1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

          Definitely harder. They must figure out workarounds for functions that used to utilize system features that are now off limits. This will break some apps beyond repair. Others will take work to update. For instance, SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner, Cocktail and Monolingual have already been updated for OS X 10.11. The developer of Default Folder X, on the other hand, is still working on an upgrade and it involves so much work he will have to charge for it for the first time in many years. I suspect others will do so as well. VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop have already released expensive upgrades for El Cap compatibility. Microsoft Office 2016 is badly broken, though a fix is supposedly in the works.

          Unfortunately, malware developers have become so sophisticated they’ve forced Apple to lock down even more potential avenues of attack on OS X. Ultimately this will benefit users, but the transition to El Capitan may be rocky for awhile.

          If, for example, you rely on MS Office 2016 you would be well advised to put off upgrading to OS X 10.11 until a fix has been found. If you are uncertain about how it will affect the software you use, you should put off upgrading till more information is available, or install it on a clone of your system for testing purposes. Many users of MS Office blithely upgraded without checking for compatibility and are now stuck with non-functional software that, in many cases, is vital to their work. In my opinion they have been amply rewarded for their lack of discretion. It’s not as if such problems are a new thing. They’ve been happening for decades now, with every advance in technology. In the case of Office 2016, OS X 10.11 beta testers reported the problem from the beginning, though neither Apple nor Microsoft were forthcoming with warnings before El Cap was released on an unsuspecting public. So there’s plenty of blame to go around, for both users and developers.

          The moral, of course, is do your homework before installing any significant upgrade. As it happens, El Capitan is a far more significant upgrade than we were led to believe. With the implementation of SIP, the comparison between Leopard and Snow Leopard, and between Lion and Mountain Lion, which some columnists have advanced, fails completely. El Cap is, in fact, a big deal (as, for that matter, was Yosemite). So, despite all the bravo reviews, for what it’s worth I suggest you approach it with caution. If you feel you must upgrade, take appropriate precautions.

          By the way, SIP can be disabled, which can eliminate most, if not all of the problems with software compatibility. Topher wrote an article here on MacIssues a few days ago about it. The problem here is that you may forget to reenable it once your software has been updated—or forego expensive upgrades. This would leave you open to the kinds of exploits Apple is trying to prevent on your behalf. It’s very much a use at your own risk proposition.

  1. hydrovacing

    I was one that originally downloaded and installed MS Office 2016 back when it came out, but it seemed want to take over my Office 2011 so it got trashed since it was beta.

    I don’t have a problem with Apple implementing SIP. Damn good move on Apples behalf since I don’t want to see OSX become another Windows fiasco that MS has had to deal with since Windows for WorkGroups or 3.0.

    Did Apple tell the beta testers that beta tested El Captain over the summer that they were implementing SIP or was it even implemented with the beta rollouts or did they just include it in the official release a few weeks ago.

  2. LeChien

    I just installed El Cap on a cloned drive (Thank God) and I think it sucks. One app that is broken and used every day by lots of people is TotalFinder. There will be no update for it. I use widgets as do many others, and yes they can still be used, but only in another space. In order to use PhotoShop CS5 you have to install a lower version of java.

    I did notice that El Cap needs more memory than Yosemite too.

    And that was just a cursory look at it.

    I don’t (won’t) have Apple telling me what to use like this. At least give me the option to easily set root back they way it was rather than breaking all these apps. I won’t be upgrading (actually downgrading in my opinion) anytime soon.

    I didn’t bother disabling SIP (rebooting to recover and running csrutil disable in a terminal).

    I’ll stick with Yosemite as long as I possibly can. I have no problems with it.

  3. Ernesto

    MIDI is broken in El Capitan. Check the Logic / Garage Band forums and you will see that all kinds of MIDI devices that used to work in Yosemite stopped working in El Capitan.

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