Mac OS X El Capitan
Mac OS X El Capitan will be a free upgrade to Mac users in the autumn but will be available as a public beta in July Apple

Apple has just announced Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) at its developer conference with a range of new features and performance improvements and it is available to download now for developers and from next month for everyone else.

Mac OS X El Capitan was announced by Apple on stage at WWDC 2015 in San Francisco on 8 June with a slew of new features including improved Spotlight search results; contextual search results in mail and finder; the ability to pin full-screen applications to one side of the screen or the other; and my favourite - the ability to shake the trackpad to find your cursor - especially helpful on larger iMac screens.

Apple has also done a lot of work under the hood, promising that opening apps is 1.4 times faster than last year's OS X Yosemite. Switching between open apps is twice as fast - as is opening new messages - and opening a PDF in the Preview app is four times faster.

For a full rundown on the new features, you can read our comprehensive Mac OS X El Capitan preview.

Apple will make El Capitan available as a free update in the autumn, but here we tell you just how you can download the latest version of Apple's Mac OS X as soon as possible.

Mac OS X El Capitan compatibility

First up, a note on compatibility. Apple has said that El Capitan will work with all Macs capable of running OS X Yosemite, meaning the following devices are compatible:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer);
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer);
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer);
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer);
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer);
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer); and
  • Xserve (Early 2009).

Mac OS X El Capitan - Public Beta

Apple begun public beta testing of its Mac OS X software last year with Yosemite, and has extended that to iOS for the first time with iOS 9. El Capitan will also be available as a public beta from next month.

The public beta will launch in July (exact date to be announced) and all you need to do is sign up on Apple Beta Software Program website where you will be asked to sign in with your Apple ID.

Apple will then send you an email if you are among those chosen to take part in the public beta, with the company not specifying how many people will be allowed access.

Mac OS X El Capitan - Developer Preview

If you have paid up your $99 to register as a developer with Apple, then you will be able to download the Mac OS X developer beta now from here.

There are already a number of links available online to download the developer preview without needing a subscription. Despite El Capitan being a free upgrade, we're pretty sure Apple would not want normal users using these links and considering this software will still be pretty buggy we would recommend waiting until next month to download the public beta.