Eight useful hidden improvements in OS X 10.11 ‘El Capitan’

During Yesterday’s keynote presentation on the upcoming OS X El Capitan, Apple’s Craig Federighi outlined a number of the new features of the upcoming release of OS X. In particular he focused on new window management approaches, and Spotlight searches, as well as some performance improvements with the optimized “Metal” API. However, there are a few additional improvements in OS X 10.11 noted that Federighi did not discuss, but which might be quite beneficial.

1. File copy resume

One frustration with the current OS X Finder is that copying files from one location to another is an all-or-nothing experience. If you are copying a massive selection and one file fails because it is “in use” or otherwise unavailable, then the entire copy will be cancelled. The same goes if you lose a connection or your system goes to sleep in the middle of a copy action. With a resume feature for this, the copy process will be cached as it proceeds, so that if such problems arise, the system can pick up where it left off instead of requiring you perform the copy again from the beginning.

2. Copy file path in Finder

There are a number of reasons why you might need to get the current folder’s path, and there are a few cleaver scripts, uses of drag-and-drop, and other implementations that allow you quick access to this information in current versions of OS X; however, Apple is apparently tackling this with a contextual menu option that should give you quick access to a file or folder’s full path. If you currently need this, then you likely have already implemented a solution of your own; however, moving forward OS X should require less customization to give you this option.

3. Redesigned Disk Utility

One of the staple programs in OS X has been Disk Utility; however, it has run into some limitations as Apple has added new filesystem features to OS X, namely encryption and extra drive logic with Core Storage (now the default setup in OS X Yosemite and later). To address this, we are going to get an all-new Disk Utility, that should give us better tools for managing CoreStorage, and setting up our drives.

4. New service extensions

With Yosemite, Apple implemented an extensions interface that allows you to access special services in programs that do not support them, and as a first-go, implemented the Markup extension that allows you to quickly edit PDFs and images directly in Mail. This is being augmented with new extensions for managing both shared links as well as quickly editing photos for cropping, color and contrast adjustments, and other quick details before sending them off or saving them.

5. File and folder rename in the contextual menu

If you have regularly used OS X, you will know that highlighting a file and pressing Enter will allow you to edit its name. You can also do this by clicking the file’s name once and keeping your mouse over the name for a split second or two. However, these approaches may not be the most intuitive, so Apple is adding this to the file’s contextual menu. This may allow for batch-renaming of multiple files, but at least will give a new option for renaming individual ones.

6. Auto-hiding menu bars

When you enter Full Screen, OS X will hide the Dock and Menu bars; however, you otherwise will only be able to hide the Dock. This means that the menu bar still occupies a sliver of screen real estate, albeit small, that could otherwise be put to use when not in full-screen mode. As with the Dock, the hiding menu bar will give you a quick way to make full use of your Mac’s screen.

7. Improved autofill

Autofill is undoubtedly nice, but there are times when it makes mistakes or does not include all possible information you have, still requiring you to edit your forms before submitting them. While Apple has not gone into details about this feature, it will hopefully require less double-checking. Nevertheless, for important information it may still be good to take the time to ensure it is correct, regardless of how intelligent OS X becomes.

8. New color picker

When you choose colors for fonts, shapes, and other details in OS X, you get a small floating panel that contains various preset colors, or slider combinations for adjusting the color you want. While useful, unfortunately this is a somewhat antiquated interface that does not flow well with OS X’s progressive interface tweaks. In El Capitan, we will get an all-new color picker that should hopefully give the same options, but with an optimized and perhaps more usable interface.


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