Upgrading to OS X 10.11 El Capitan

After an operating system update, users invariably encounter feature and interface changes and apps that no longer work. While I certainly don’t claim to be the definitive expert and authority about Apple’s newest OS, I’d like to share a few things that I discovered during the upgrade process.

1. Save the El Capitan Installer for Backup Purposes

Downloaded from the App Store, the OS X installer takes up 6 gigabytes of disk space. As a form of insurance in case the system upgrade failed or didn’t meet expectations, I made a complete backup of my 10.10 Yosemite configuration using SuperDuper before I signed into the App Store. The download and system install took about 2 hours to finish. How long the process takes on your Mac may vary significantly, particularly if you have a super-fast computer and Internet connection.

Install OS X El Capitan

Install OS X El Capitan

Once the OS X installer finished downloading, I didn’t rush to start the installation process. Instead, I immediately opened up a Finder window and made a backup copy of the installation program (Install OS X El Capitan.app) that can be found in the Applications folder. I used an external hard disk to back up the installer – a USB flash drive would work just as well. I performed this extra step, anticipating (correctly) that the 6 gig file would be erased from my Mac as soon as the OS finished installing.

Since I now had a backup copy of the El Capitan installer, I could use the same file again to upgrade other computers without needing to complete the download process a second time.

2. Disk Utility Adopts the iTunes Color Code Scheme and Brings Back First Aid

Disk Utility El Capitan

Disk Utility El Capitan

Gone is the spartan, silvery look of Disk Utility that has been characteristic of that venerable program since the beginning days of OS X. When you open the ‘new’ Disk Utility from the Utilities folder, you will see a colorized breakdown of your hard drive or flash drive by category: Apps, Photos, Audio, Movies, and Other. Basic file and folder checking is performed using the First Aid menu, a functional term that long-time Mac users will remember from the bygone days of OS 9 and before.

Disk Utility First Aid

3. Secure Empty Trash No Longer Appears as a Menu Item

Missing Secure Empty Trash MenuSecure Empty Trash was a built-in Finder menu option that was available in Yosemite 10.10 and earlier versions of the OS X operating system that has been removed from El Capitan 10.11 because it apparently did not work reliably all the time. An OS X Daily report dated Oct 12, 2015 outlined the detailed steps needed to execute the secure remove command in an El Capitan Terminal session (see below).

• Locate the file(s) you wish to securely delete in the OS X Finder
• Hit Command+Space bar to open Spotlight, type “Terminal” and hit the return key to launch the Terminal application
• Type the following syntax exactly, be sure to include a space after the flag:
• To delete a file:
srm -v
• To delete an entire directory:
srm -rv

You can leave off the -v flag if you’d like, but verbose mode gives you a nice progress indicator.

• Now drag and drop the file or folder you wish to remove into the Terminal command line, this will fill in the complete path to the file automatically
• Confirm the path is to the file or folder you wish to permanently delete with a secure empty trash equivalent and hit the Return key
• Repeat as necessary for other files or folders you wish to securely delete in OS X

I suppose if any of us took the time, we could compose an Apple Script to perform the Secure Empty Trash function in a simplified and elegant manner.


Once you hit the Return key, the secure remove command is irreversible and the deleted files are overwritten 35 times. In other words, once you complete the steps to securely remove files or folders, they are gone forever.

4. Test Your Old Apps to Verify Whether They Still Run Under 10.11

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a common expression that proclaims that if something is functioning reasonably well, it’s generally best to leave it alone. At the same time, it’s not unusual to run into situations where a system upgrade prevents a perfectly good piece of hardware or software from working as it did before. For instance, the only reason why I keep a virtual machine install of Windows XP on my Mac hard drive is so I can keep using an 11-year-old Canon scanner that is no longer supported by OS X.

I produce YouTube videos, write blog articles, and produce podcasts. All of the desktop applications (e.g., Final Cut Pro 7, Microsoft Office 2011) that I use to create these items are more than 4 years old. One app that I use almost daily is Adobe Photoshop CS3 which I bought in 2007. For my web-based work, I have no need to migrate to Adobe Cloud to create my digital images.

Before I began the system upgrade, I considered my options in case Photoshop CS3 wouldn’t run under El Capitan. I maintain a copy of my old call tracking data files that I can open using a discontinued copy of Now Contact software that is supported under a bootable OS X 10.8 system that I’ve installed on an external hard drive. One option I considered and quickly discarded would be to install Photoshop CS3 on the 10.8 drive. I really didn’t like this idea, for this would require me to exit out of 10.11 and boot into 10.8 every time I wanted to create or edit an image. What I elected to do as my backup measure was to use CrossOver for Mac to install a REALLY OLD copy of Photoshop Elements 2.0 for Windows that I kept around for emergencies. If for some reason Photoshop CS3 wouldn’t run under El Capitan, I would have the option to open Photoshop Elements 2.0 from CrossOver.

Once I had finished entering in the setup data that 10.11 required and was presented with the familiar desktop view of my hard drive, I proceeded to test all of my previously installed applications. Frequently used apps like Soundtrack Pro and Office 2011 opened normally. When I first tried to open Photoshop CS3, I was greeted by a popup window that read: To open “Adobe Photoshop CS3” you need to install the legacy Java SE 5 runtime. Click “More Info” to visit the legacy Java SE 6 download website.

Legacy Java SE 6 Runtime

I clicked the More Info button as instructed, and then downloaded the legacy Java 6 installer which is named “javaforosx.dmg.” After I successfully installed the legacy Java 6 software, I was able to open Photoshop CS3 and use its many functions while running El Capitan.


Aside from having to execute the Secure Empty Trash function from the command line rather than the Finder menu, I haven’t had to radically change the way I use 10.11 in comparison to 10.10. The apps that I normally use still function under the new OS. One of the ‘side benefits’ of the system upgrade is that I now have more free space on my boot drive. Before the upgrade I had about 33 gig free. Now I have over 40 gig free. To date, I’ve experienced just one system freeze under El Capitan when I was running Apple Mail at the same time with YouTube and other active URL sessions in Firefox. To unfreeze my Mac, I had to execute a force restart by pressing the Command, Control, and Power button at the same time. Otherwise, 10.11 has been running without a hitch.


How to Perform Equivalent of “Secure Empty Trash” in OS X El Capitan (10.11.+)
OS X Daily | Oct 12, 2015

Java for OS X 2015-001



Filed under Apple Software, Third Party Software, Troubleshooting

3 responses to “Upgrading to OS X 10.11 El Capitan

  1. admin

    Use Automator to create a Secure Empty Trash script in El Capitan.

  2. admin

    As an alternative to Secure Empty Trash, use FileVault. Even if someone gets some of the data of a deleted file, they won’t be able to decrypt it or make sense of it since FileVault encrypts everything. http://bit.ly/1MKN3yT

  3. Thank you for telling the procedure for upgrading the OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Its an Excellent post. I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep it up.

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