OS X El Capitan

Now that OS X El Capitan is officially out, it’s time to update. First, though, make sure you read our post on how to prepare for OS X El Capitan. It covers basic information, such as using Time Machine to backup your data.

Once you do that, it’s time to download OS X El Capitan. You can do that from the Mac App Store, and like past OS X updates, it’s totally free. Fire up the Mac App Store, and get to downloading!

Upgrading the normal way

The easiest way to upgrade is to simply click on the OS X Install app once you’ve downloaded it from the Mac App Store. Actually, you shouldn’t even have to click on the app icon, as it should auto launch upon successful download. Just follow the step by step process that the installer walks you through.

OS X El Capitan Installer

Installing from scratch

First and foremost, I want to reiterate how important it is to perform a Time Machine backup before you do this. Again, backup your Mac before proceeding. If you wish to install from scratch, it involves erasing your current installation. Unless you want to go in and manually reconfigure everything, which some people like me prefer to do, you should backup using Time Machine so that you can restore your data at the end of the process.

That said, the whole point of using this method instead of the upgrade method mention above is to have a clean slate, and in that case, you may not care about restoring from backup. Still, it’s always a good idea to at least have a backup available, even if you don’t plan on actually using it.

As I mentioned in the preparation guide, it’s possible to install OS X from scratch. Doing this is more time consuming that it would be to just perform an upgrade. It also requires a bit more technical skill. All in all, however, it’s not too difficult.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a USB Installer. Once you do that, it’s just a matter of powering off your Mac, and powering it back up while holding the Option key with the USB Installer inserted.

You will then be shown the option to boot from the USB Installer, which you should do. Once you do that, open Disk Utility from the menu bar, select your primary disk where your current version of OS X resides, and erase the disk using the options under the Erase tab.

From there, it’s just a matter of exiting Disk Utility, and proceeding through the OS X El Capitan installation, which should be on screen. The installer will walk your though the entire process step by step.

What if you’re currently running the latest beta?

If you’re running the latest beta, the Mac App Store will tell you that you’re already running the latest version. You can still download OS X if you want to, but it’s essentially the same version as the latest beta version. Instead, just wait for the first update via the Mac App Store to be placed on the public release path.

OS X 10.11 already installed update


You should now be well on your way to running OS X El Capitan on your Mac. Check back for many more tutorials and walkthroughs regarding OS X El Capitan later today, and throughout the rest of the week.

  • Merman123

    Thanks Jeff. Will definitely follow the from scratch tutorial as soon as I’m home !

  • Giacomo Castellucci

    is there an update for the GM or we have to reinstall all over

    • Jimmy Bailey

      I was just asking this!!

    • Rob

      I have GM on my Mac. Went to download from MAS and it told me not to bother, just run App Updates. Ran the updater and there are no new updates so assuming, for the time being, that GM and this release are one and the same.

      • Jimmy Bailey

        The build numbers are different. Not sure why. I always obsess over it.

      • Rob

        Can always install the MAS version over GM? That’s what I did last year with Yosemite given the build number disparity.

      • Jimmy Bailey

        Thats what i’m gonna do.

      • Newgunnerr

        Update to public beta and then to final release.

  • steadymobbin

    ive noticed that ever since ive installed yosemite that my computer has ran slower overall. i know that el capitan is suppose to fix this, but would it be better to start from a clean slate? i have my itunes and photos running from an external hard drive and my videos on a different external harddrive. so the only thing on my mac is applications/programs, and parallels/windows.
    my computer ran very quickly with mountain lion. but slowed when i jumped to yosemite.

    • Rob

      If you want to clean up the Yosemite build before you go to El Capitan then seek out an app called ONYX. Get the Yosemite version and run it on your device. Let it clean up the system, clean your NVRAM / PRAM and then do the update to 10.11. For sure, initial update will end up being a bit laggy whilst spotlight does it’s reindexing thing. Same as our iPhones did post iOS 9 install for a day or two.

  • Sanjeev

    Anyone else having problems downloading this in the UK?

  • Cristian Meneses

    Great! I’ve already installed the latest beta from scratch, so I will wait for the first update.. Thanks Jeff!

    • Neel Parikh

      How much time it take to boot from external usb installation?

      • Cristian Meneses

        From creating the bootable installation USB stick to install (after formatting), it takes about 1 to 2 hours depending on your system…

      • Neel Parikh

        See. I am stuck at this point after selecting my bootable usb drive , holding power+ option button. I have Mac 2011. How much time it will take approximately? I am updating from scratch for the first time!

      • Cristian Meneses

        Ok I see… First of all, you are not supposed to hold the buttons. Power off your Mac, then insert the USB stick. Then press (not hold) the power button, and once you hear the classic power on sound, then HOLD the option key… And it should present you a list of bootable drives. You should be able to see your USB drive then, and select it to start the installation. Good luck, and if you need more help, just ask 🙂

      • Neel Parikh

        Thanks for replying. I waited overnight to see my Mac booted but it just stay with Apple logo. Now I am updating with classic method. Anyway thanks.

        One more question!
        Do we restore Mac later or there is a singing window like iPhone?

      • Andrew Breyen

        Don’t know if you figured this out, but there is no signing window like iOS. HOWEVER, There was an iDB post how previous downloads (Lion, Mtn. Lion, etc.) have been pulled from the app store.

        Also, you don’t “restore” a Mac. You can reformat the hard drive, but it’ll need a OS to run. (OS X, Windows, Linux)

      • Neel Parikh


  • Anonomous.TECH.man

    So is performance better if you do it from scratch or is app sore update just as good

    • Gaetano

      It performs better if u install it from scratch. But then the classic update is still ok. Someone prefer to start over each major release. I’m one of them.

    • Cristian Meneses

      For me, I don’t usually see much of a performance increase, but ever since I upgraded from Mountain Lion to Mavericks, I always do a clean install, since some previous configurations seem to cause trouble on the new system version. That happened to me on Mavericks when I updated, and I’ve been clean installing ever since without any problems

  • agipaok

    When I delete the partition and going to install from scratch , with plugged in usb with el capital (probably) I have only option reinstall OSX and says Yosemite!!!

    • Andrew Breyen

      Are you sure you booted from the USB drive?

      Sounds like you were kicked into Recovery.