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Home » Blog » Updating to OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”

Updating to OS X 10.11 “El Capitan”

Published on June 11th, 2015

If you have been following Apple’s latest announcements this week being that it is WWDC week, then you know that iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan have been announced, and early betas have been released to the development community. Public betas will be available in July, so sign up if you are interested.


Yesterday, I tackled the time consuming task of updating my iPhone to iOS 9. Most of the time was spent waiting for the phone to backup to icloud, install the new firmware, and then restore all the apps back to the device. In retrospect, it would be nice if they had a way to do an in-place upgrade, but I suppose given our experiences with Windows, that is probably more likely to cause issues in the long run.

Anyhow, today’s task was to upgrade my old development environment to the latest. As any iOS Developer can tell you, if you are serious about doing any type of iOS development, you need a Mac environment to work in. Apple has always been a very closed environment, and while they have come a long way in the years with playing better with others, nothing Apple quite works as well as having all Apple products in your ecosystem.


I cheat a little (shhh don’t tell) by running OS X in a virtual environment. It certainly has its downsides, but one huge upside are snapshots. Before loading El Capitan, I’m able to take a snapshot of my Mac environment. This way, if loading an early beta like El Capitan goes to hell, I can right-click on the virtual machine and rollback to exactly where everything was before I clicked “install”.

Perhaps a bit of a spoiler up front, but I didn’t need the snapshot feature this time. Upgrading from Mavericks to El Capitan was pretty smooth. Since El Capitan is built on Yosemite, I made the choice of upgrading from Mavericks to Yosemite and then to El Capitan, but I bet it works fine jumping directly from Mavericks to El Capitan too. I only did it this way because I didn’t see the option in the Apple Store (and didn’t read the directions) until Yosemite was loaded.

To make El Capitan appear in the Apple Store, you must first login to your developer account in Safari. You will be given a special URL that will launch the Apple Store and begin the download for El Capitan. The entire DMG file is approximately 6.06 GB, and can be found under the purchases tab in the App Store.

Once installed, you can validate everything loaded successfully by checking the OS X version under the Apple menu. The first time the system boots, it will display “Yosemite 10.11”, but after a reboot or three, it will clearly display “El Capitan 10.11” as it should. This really is expected. El Capitan, much like iOS 9, is really just a continuation of what is already established, with improvements, of course.


Once El Capitan is installed, I didn’t need to update anything else, so installing Xcode 7 beta was next on the list. Once again, you need to login to your Apple Developer portal account to download the DMG file. This file is 3.9 GB is size, and is downloaded directly in your browser (no App Store needed). Installation is pretty straight forward (double click on it), and it appears all of my settings from Xcode 6.x are retained.

After two days, my work is completed. I am now ready to begin checking out Swift 2.0 to see what all it brings to the development table. Objective-C was not a fun language to work with, and I haven’t toyed with Swift yet, so I expect it to be quite interesting. Stay tuned…

About the Author: Sprawl

Stephen Russell is a Mobile App developer and all around IT geek that spends his days running data centers and his nights coding. This site is the go to place for all of zSprawl's work and the infamous development blog. In his free time, he enjoys tinkering with web code, playing video games, and otherwise plotting to take over the Internets.


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