Apple has released OS X El Capitan (10.11), the latest version of the Mac operating system.

This major update is available to Mac users across the world - free of charge. Prior to the golden master version, which was made available to developers and testers on 9 September, the software went through eight betas.

It is therefore ready for an official launch and can be downloaded now using the Software Update tool via the Mac App Store. To help you get it running on your Mac straightaway, we've detailed everything you need to know...

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No. According to Apple, only the following Macs are compatible with El Capitan:

  • iMac (mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (13-inch, aluminium/late 2008), (13-inch, early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, mid-2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, mid-2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (early 2008 or newer)

This is the same list of computers that were compatible with OS X Yosemite (10.10), OS X Mavericks (10.9), and Mountain Lion (10.8). So, if you were eligible to install those updates, you're eligible to install OS X El Capitan.

Prior to installing El Capitan, you should make space for it as well as backup your machine. Keep in mind OS X Yosemite was a 5.72GB install. If you're tight on hard drive space, you'll need to clean up your desktop, empty your downloads folder, uninstall forgotten apps, etc.

After that, you definitely need to backup your Mac. Upgrading your software could damage or delete all your data, so it's wise to have spare copy of your hard drive just in case. You can setup a Time Machine to do this or back-up through a cloud-storage service like Dropbox.

Apple has a support page with more information on how to backup your Mac.

The El Capitan software update went live at 10 am PST on 30 September.

After you've prepped your Mac for the update, download and install it. Launch the Mac App Store, then click on the Featured tab, and locate the OS X El Capitan icon on the Featured page. Click it to begin the download. 

Alternatively, you can use this direct link to the update in the Mac App Store:

Be sure to select the "Get" or "Download" button underneath the OS X El Capitan icon. The installer will then proceed to download.

OS X El Capitan brings with it several new features, all of which aim to deliver a "more refined user experience and faster performance" rather than a huge range of new features. In fact, in some cases, the changes are so subtle you might not notice any difference.

Nevertheless, we have rounded up 10 of the features that will make a difference to your every day use of the new desktop software, all with the purpose of getting you ready to try out the new features straightaway:

Check out Pocket-lint's OS X El Capitan for related news and reviews.