Bring OS X El Capitan features to your Mac

It's already possible to find the cursor and split your screen between apps

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  • El Capitan OS X El Cap in Yosemite
  • 1 moom Moom
  • 2 bettertouchtool BetterTouchTool
  • 3 simple mouse locator SImple Mouse Locator
  • 4 mousepose Mousepos√©
  • 5 accessibility Accessibility
  • 6 evernote Evernote and OneNote
  • 7 google maps Google Maps
  • 8 clickto plugins Silence tabs
  • 9 airmail Switch email clients
  • 10 flashlight Expand Spotlight
  • More stories
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Get a taste of El Capitan

Later this month, Apple’s next major upgrade to OS X will ship. El Capitan promises a range of new features, including a split view, a means to rapidly find your cursor, a more versatile Spotlight, and a vastly improved version of Notes.

However, not everyone can install a new OS the moment it arrives — and some people who can won’t want to. Or you might just be impatient, liking the look of the upcoming features, and wanting them right now. You can of course sign up to the public beta, but if you’d rather remain secure with Yosemite, check out these apps to get a little taste of El Capitan today.

Read next: Top 10 secret features in Mac OS X El Capitan

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Next Prev El Capitan OS X

Later this month, Apple’s next major upgrade to OS X will ship. El Capitan promises a range of new features, including a split view, a means to rapidly find your cursor, a more versatile Spotlight, and a vastly improved version of Notes.

However, not everyone can install a new OS the moment it arrives — and some people who can won’t want to. Or you might just be impatient, liking the look of the upcoming features, and wanting them right now. You can of course sign up to the public beta, but if you’d rather remain secure with Yosemite, check out these apps to get a little taste of El Capitan today.

Read next: Top 10 secret features in Mac OS X El Capitan

 

Split view with Moom

In El Capitan, Split view is actually a part of full-screen mode — it just so happens you can have your full-screen app budge over and only take up half of the display, and then choose something else to fill the remaining space. No apps we know of ape this functionality directly, but plenty enable rapid window resizing, meaning you can quickly get windows side-by-side.

Moom ($10) is the best of them, and is very configurable. You can snap windows to edges or corners by dragging them, use a zoom button overlay to draw on a grid to state where you want a window to go, or create custom keyboard shortcuts for throwing windows about.

Even when El Capitan appears, Moom will still be worth having, because it offers so much more than what you’ll get with Apple’s equivalent feature.

 

Split view with BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool (free) is another app worth checking out for window management.

You can assign shortcuts to your mouse, trackpad and keyboard, and there are far more gestural commands than Apple offers in System Preferences. For example, you can use four- or five-finger swipes to resize windows to the left- or right-hand side of the screen.

The app’s free and, like Moom, should nicely co-exist with and augment Apple’s upcoming OS X updates.

 

Find your cursor wioth Simple Mouse Locator

During the El Capitan demo, one of the most popular new features was one of the simplest: temporarily growing the mouse cursor when it’s wiggled.

But Apple’s not alone in finding ‘lost’ cursors irritating and Simple Mouse Locator (79p) provides a similar solution. By default, wave the cursor horizontally and it’ll emit a circular pulse.

In the preferences, you can change the pulse’s size, colour and duration, and also how it’s activated.

 

Find your cursor with Mouseposé

Mouseposé (£7.99) is a more involved app for highlighting Mac input. It’s primarily designed for people doing technical presentations, who need to show keys being pressed, button clicks and the location of the cursor.

But these things can also be useful to everyone, dimming the screen to find the cursor and emitting pulses from a pointer click; even displaying keystrokes has its uses, for example when you’re learning to use a Mac and figuring out modifier keys.

 

Enlarge your cursor using Accessibility

In the Accessibility pane of System Preferences, select Display. Under Display, you’ll see a ‘Cursor size’ slider. At Normal, the cursor is unchanged; drag it to Large and it becomes enormous.

This setting sticks once System Preferences is closed; however, if you want a larger cursor all the time, this is a system-level option, meaning it’s very safe and entirely free.

 

Get better notes with Evernote and OneNote

Notes has always been a bit too simple for its own good, but that’s set to change. In El Capitan, you’ll be able to add images and web links, along with to-do lists.

If you can’t wait, or you want something that will work across various platforms, consider Evernote (from free) and OneNote (from free). Both products have wide platform support and are extremely flexible in terms of the content you can work with.

 

Get transit info with Google Maps

Maps is finally getting public transport information baked in, but it remains to be seen precisely how much. From what we know so far, Apple’s targeting specific cities, and only a small number of them.

If your connection has nothing to do with said cities, you might be out of luck. That is, unless you fire up Google Maps (free), which has offered public transport information for some time now. Train information occasionally warrants double-checking with another source, but is generally fine for planning journeys.

And if you sign in with a Google ID, you can share your searches with the Google Maps iOS app.

Read our comparison review of Google Maps and Apple Maps

 

Silence tabs with plug-ins

There was a cheer from the audience when Apple demoed its new feature for silencing noisy Safari tabs. There’s no equivalent in the current version, but ClickToPlugin and ClickToFlash (free) let you turn off plug-in content (in other words, the stuff likely to make noise) by default and only activate it when you specifically ask.

Alternatively, switch browsers. Google Chrome (free) has a hidden setting for muting tabs. Go to chrome://flags/#enable-tab-audio-muting, enable the feature and restart the browser. You then click the loudspeaker of any noisy tab to shut it up.

Read: Best web browser for Mac

 

Switch email clients for more features

Mail will soon get an improved full-screen view that lets you juggle email conversations, along with iPad-like gestures for managing your inbox.

If you can relatively easily switch clients (for example, if you use IMAP), consider Airmail 2 (£7.99). The app’s full-screen mode uses standard windows for new messages, and there are gestures for archiving and deleting mail.

 

Expand Spotlight with Flashlight

In El Capitan, Spotlight has new features based around natural language input and additional sources. The former’s not something you can do much about right now, but you can get more sources for Spotlight. Install Flashlight (free) and you can add plug-ins to Spotlight. Bundled examples include weather reports, website searches, system commands, and searching emoji.

Changes in OS X make installation a touch complicated, but we got everything running on our test Macs. Don’t get too attached, though — the developer says hacking Spotlight is impossible in El Capitan, meaning you’ll be stuck with whatever add-ons Apple provides for you once you’ve upgraded. Boo, hiss, and all that.

Read next: Run El Capitan on your Mac at the same time as Yosemite

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