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First look at the OS X El Capitan public beta, out today

Jason Snell | July 10, 2015
Apple announced OS X 10.11 El Capitan at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, due to ship in the fall but with a public beta release to follow this summer. If you're just too excited about El Capitan to wait for fall, your chance to try out the next generation of OS X is coming this morning. Today, Apple will release the first El Capitan beta to users who have joined its public beta program.

Safari tweaks

With El Capitan comes a new version of Safari, version 9, and it's got some clever new features. I have to admit that I still use bookmarks (and don't use RSS), and I'm looking forward to using the new Pinned Sites feature in Safari 9. Pinned Sites are like mega-bookmarks, or a simpler, more visual version of the Favorites Bar. Drag a tab into the left corner of Safari's title bar and it will stay there permanently, with a little icon (or letter if the site in question hasn't built a special custom icon for use with Pinned Sites) to distinguish it.

Pinned Sites are kept refreshed, so with one click you can see what's new on your favorite site. Clicks that lead to other pages on the site are loaded in the pinned site's tab, but external links all open in separate tabs, keeping your pinned site right where it is. As someone who likes to bookmark a few very-favorite sites and visit them regularly, this has the makings of a cool feature.

Nobody likes blaring audio from pages that automatically play videos when the page loads, and if you're someone who likes to open articles in multiple tabs, you can very quickly have several different videos playing in different tabs. In Safari 9, you can very quickly mute audio in all of your tabs, and can also click to inspect which tab is making the noise, so you can jump to it and mute just that tab. This is a really great feature that I look forward to using when I'm browsing ESPN, Macworld, and many other of my favorite sites, which I generally read only for the articles.

I also like the fact that Safari Reader, which gives you a simplified view of a complicated page layout, has added more display preferences. In the Yosemite version of Safari, you can make the text larger or smaller, but that's about it. In Safari 9, you can not only adjust text size, but also choose from four color themes and eight typefaces. It's a good look.

First set of Photos improvements

The first version of Photos for Mac is not without its power features, but while I was working on my book about Photos, I started to compile a list of the most requested "missing features" in Photos 1.0.

I had hoped those features would be added by Apple in a future update, and I'm happy to report that this seems to be happening with the version of Photos that will ship with El Capitan.

The biggest addition is editing of image data, individually and in batches. In Photos you'll be able to add location information to a single photo or an entire batch, batch-organize faces, and batch-change titles.


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