16 Common OS X El Capitan Problems & How to Fix Them

The OS X El Capitan update for Apple computers adds a collection of incredible new features to Macs. This update also brings problems and issues as well. After monitoring complaints from users, we want to show you how to fix the most common OS X El Capitan problems on your MacBook, iMac and other Apple computers.

We’ll look at problems that continue to frustrate users in 2016, including a OS X 10.11.5 problem that is especially frustrating for iTunes 12.4.1 users that listen to albums with shorter tracks on Apple Music.

Originally announced in June 2015, the OS X El Capitan release arrived at the end of September after months of beta tests for developers and for the general public. This guide will help you fix OS X El Capitan problems on versions including OS X 10.11.2.


For all the good features that OS X 10.11 brings to users, there are also some issues and bugs.

We are seeing some users report OS X El Capitan problems in forums, on social media and directly to Apple in hopes of a quick fix. It’s not a shock to see OS X 10.11 problems appearing as Macbook owners use the new software more.

If you listen to tracks shorter than 60 seconds on iTunes 12.4.1 on OS X 10.11.5 using Apple Music the next track will not play. The odds are good that you will need to update to iTunes 12.4.x or OS X 10.11.6 to fix this when updates arrive.

OS X El Capitan Updates

Apple released OS X 10.11.1 and OS X 10.11.2 in late 2015 to deliver fixes for common OS X El Capitan problems, and they did offer some relief to users. If you are suffering from WiFi issues and other OS X 10.11 problems you should try upgrading to the current version.

In late December 2015 Apple offered a test version of OS X 10.11.3 to users, and another beta of this software appeared during early January 2016. There is no list of new features and fixes in the OS X 10.11.3 update, which is usually a good sign that the focus is on fixing problems.

Apple also debuted the OS X 10.11.4 update in mid-January as part of a public beta that includes new features like Live Photo viewing, password protection in Notes, similar to the new iOS 9.3 features.

Read on for a list of common OS X El Capitan problems that you can fix on your own without a trip to the genius bar. Some of these are common Mac problems that happen after a major update, while others are tied specifically to OS X El Capitan.

How to Fix OS X El Capitan Installation Problems

We have not seen many OS X El Capitan installation problems that are widespread, but we did run into issues on one of our MacBooks. The OS X 10.11.1 update includes installer reliability fixes, so you should run into fewer issues.

If the computer restarts after what you assumed was an installation, but it is still running OS X Yosemite, the first thing to try is running the OS X El Capitan installer again.

What you need to know about OS X El Capitan problems.

What you need to know about OS X El Capitan problems.

If you are stuck on a gray screen during the OS X El Capitan installation you can try to simply wait it out, which works for some users. If that fails you may need to try booting into safe mode. Use these three steps from Apple.

  1. Start or restart your Mac.
  2. Immediately after you hear the startup sound, press and hold the Shift key.
  3. Release the Shift key when you see the Apple logo appear on the screen

This may get you into your Mac. If this fails you may need to restore a backup from Time Machine and try installing again. Or you can try a clean install.

How to Fix OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 Freezing Problems

One of the biggest OS X El Capitan problems to affect users in 2016 is a OS X 10.11.4 freezing problem that mainly effects the 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina from 2015.

On the MacRumors Forums many users complain that the MacBook randomly freezes while running OS X 10.11.4. You can use the directions in the link above to see if you are impacted by this issue, or if you are just experiencing random issues.

If this happens to you, you will need to hold down the power button to force a restart. This is only a temporary fix. If it happens to you, the next step should be to install OS X 10.11.5. This small update fixes the problem for most users.

Fix OS X El Capitan Microsoft Office 2016 Problems

Since the OS X El Capitan release date we’ve heard from many users with problems using Microsoft Office 2016 on OS X El Capitan.

Thankfully there is now a simple solution. Install the OS X 10.11.1 update (or later updates) that is free for all users and available now. This will fix your OS X El Capitan Office 2016 issues.

At this stage it is also

How to Fix Slow OS X El Capitan Performance

Some users will see slow OS X El Capitan performance after upgrading, especially on an old Mac. This could be due to the need for more Memory or it could be that you need to free up disk space. You may also need to do a little housecleaning.

If everything is slow, including what you type appearing on screen, restart your Mac. Click on the Apple, then on Restart and wait for this process to finish. You may need to close apps and choose to save something before it completes.

The next thing to check is to see how much memory (RAM) your Mac has and if you can upgrade it. On many older macs you can upgrade RAM to make the computer run faster, but on newer models this is not the case.

On your Mac, click on the Apple in the upper left and then click on About This Mac. Then click on Memory and Memory Upgrade Instructions. This will show you exactly what you need to do to add more RAM to your Mac and tell you what kind to buy. You can often find better deals on RAM through Crucial or other websites.

You should also check to see if you need to clean up your hard drive so that there is enough room for OS X El Capitan to store files it needs. Use this guide to free up space. You can also run Disk Utility to make sure your hard drive is not suffering from problems.

How to Fix OS X El Capitan Battery Life Problems

One very common OS X El Capitan problem is bad battery life right after the upgrade. If you are experiencing bad battery life during the first day after upgrading the computer may simply be using Spotlight to index files, which uses more power.

If this is the case you may simply need to wait a day or so for it to complete. You can use these tips to fix bad OS X El Capitan battery life and to see what apps, or spotlight are causing your problems.

If you are using third-party software that claims to clean up your Mac or keep it safe, one of the first steps to diagnosing bad battery life should be to uninstall apps like MacKeeper and CleanMyMac to see if that solves the problem.

One additional step you may need to try is resetting the System Management Controller on your Mac. Use this guide to complete that task.

Fix OS X El Capitan WiFi Problems

Reasons to Install OS X El Capitan - 2For the most part the OS X El Capitan WiFi problems are small and less likely than on OS X Yosemite thanks to a major change by Apple, but there are still some problems you may run into.

The OS X 10.11.2 update included WiFi reliability, so you should upgrade to that to see if it fixes your problems before taking any other steps. These are also built-in to OS X 10.11.4, so you can update to the current version and get your

If you need to fix slow WiFi on OS X El Capitan, you may need to restart your router and modem, unplug them for about 30 seconds to a minute. If this doesn’t fix it you can try turning your WiFi off on your Mac. Click on the WiFi icon and then Turn WiFi off. After a minute turn it back on. This can fix many problems.

Other potential fixes including clicking on Open Network Preferences and then on Advanced to change the order your computer should connect to, options to delete a WiFi network and more. Sometimes deleting a connection and re-adding it will fix the issue.

Fix OS X El Capitan Bluetooth Problems

After upgrading to OS X El Capitan we’ve seen odd Bluetooth connectivity issues with the Apple Magic Trackpad. If you run into problems, the best thing to do is try re-pairing your devices or powering them on and off.

Users with OS X El Capitan Bluetooth connection issue should install OS X 10.11.2, as it includes fixes to prevent Bluetooth devices disconnecting.

Be careful turning Bluetooth off on your Mac if you only have a Bluetooth mouse and a Bluetooth keyboard.

Fix OS X El Capitan AirDrop Not Working

AirDrop is a great way to quickly send a file from your iPhone to your Mac, Mac to Mac or Mac to iPhone. Unfortunately we’ve heard from users who say AirDrop is not working any more. Here are some steps to try on your Mac and what to check on your iPhone.

If your Mac doesn’t show up on your iPhone, click on Finder on your Mac and then on AirDrop. This normally does the trick.

Fix common AirDrop not working problems on your Mac.

Fix common AirDrop not working problems on your Mac.

You may also need to choose to send to Everyone instead of Contacts only on your iPhone or iPad by using Control Center and from the AirDrop screen in Finder on Mac.

If neither of those work you should turn Bluetooth and WiFi off and back on on the iOS device. Be careful turning off Bluetooth on your Mac if you only have a Bluetooth mouse.

You can also try rebooting your devices and your router if you are at home.

Fix OS X El Capitan Spotlight Problems

OS X El Capitan Spotlight Problems

A common OS X El Capitan Spotlight problem is that it does not include some of the new features. If this happens you should go to Spotlight settings and turn apps off and back on to see if that fixes the issue. This may not solve all of your problems. One member of our team still cannot use the Weather feature.

If you need to get the Spotlight window back to the default location click and hold on the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of your screen.

Fix OS X El Capitan App Problems

After upgrading to OS X El Capitan you may experience apps that crash or that simply do not work at all.

The first thing to do is check for updates. This varies from one app to the next so you will need to figure out how to update the app on your own. Most compatibility updates are free, but if your app is a very old version, you may need to buy an upgrade.

Another option is to simply remove and install your app again. This won’t always fix the issue, but it is surprisingly good at it. Here’s a list of the apps that are and aren’t working in OS X El Capitan.

Fix OS X El Capitan Logitech Mouse Problems

A common complaint from Logitech mouse owners is that the scroll wheel doesn’t work in OS X El Capitan.

Use this guide to fix these Logitech Mouse OS X El Capitan problems in just a few minutes.

Fix OS X El Capitan Split View Problems

OS X El Capitan Split View Problems

If you cannot use Split View on OS X El Capitan you should check out your settings to make sure a specific box is checked on your Mac.

Go to System Preferences, click on Mission Control and then make sure Displays have separate Spaces is checked.

OS X El Capitan Mail Problems

OS X El Capitan Mail ProblemsThere are several OS X El Capitan Mail problems that users report, and as long as you aren’t using Outlook 2016, there are some simple fixes to use.

Before you attempt these fixes, try upgrading to OS X 10.11.1 as it includes two targeted fixes for OS X El Capitan Mail problems.

  • Fixes an issue where outgoing server information may be missing from Mail
  • Resolves an issue that prevented display of messages and mailboxes in Mail

Additionally, upgrading to OS X 10.11.2 adds a fix that, “prevented Mail from deleting messages in an offline Exchange account.”

You can fix Mail crashing on startup by using this guide to turn on accounts one-by-one instead of a rush of checking when Mail starts. This may also fix Mail freezing in OS X El Capitan.

Fix Mail cannot access servers problems on El Capitan by deleting the mail account and re-adding it to your Mac. This solved the issue for some users on the Apple Support Forums.

How to Fix OS X El Capitan Printer Problems

We’ve heard from users who have OS X El Capitan printer problems after upgrading. This is not extremely common, but if you do tun into it you can normally fix it pretty easily.

The first step is to restart your printer and restart your computer and make sure both are connected if the printer is wireless.

Fix OS X El Capitan printer problems in minutes.

Fix OS X El Capitan printer problems in minutes.

If that doesn’t work you will need to reset the printer status on your Mac. Go to System Preferences -> Printers & Scanners -> Right Click or Two Finger Click on your Printer and choose Reset Printing System.

After doing this you may need to restart your Mac again. If neither of these solutions work, you should try searching your printer name and OS X El Capitan to see if there are specific fixes for your model.

External Hard Drive or SD Card Not Showing on OS X El Capitan

We’ve heard from a number of users who can not use an external hard drive or a SD card with OS X El Capitan. When connecting the drive or the SD card it does not show up in Finder on OS X 10.11.

If this happens there are some steps you should take to fix this common OS X El Capitan problem.

First off, restart your computer to see if that fixes the problem. You may be surprised how often this fixes annoying problems. Make sure the SD card is removed and the hard drive is unplugged when you restart.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, you should try to reset the SMC and the PRAM on your Mac.

How to Fix Stubborn OS X El Capitan Problems

OS X El Capitan Prepare

At the end of the day, you may not be able to fix every OS X El Capitan problem. For now this includes using Office 2016 on OS X El Capitan, which leads to lots of crashes. No matter what the reason, you can go back to Yosemite.

Use this guide to downgrade OS X El Capitan to OS X Yosemite. This is why you should backup.

Another option is to try OS X El Capitan, but to start from scratch and install all apps and accounts manually. Use this guide to perform a clean install of OS X El Capitan.

5 Reasons Not to Install OS X El Capitan and 7 Reasons You Should

You Have Mac WiFi Problems

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You Have Mac WiFi Problems

If you have WiFi problems on your Mac with OS X Yosemite you should consider being one of the first to upgrade to OS X El Capitan. 

Apple put a lot of effort into fixing these problems and continues to address Mac WiFi problems with the OS X 10.11.2 update. These appear to be stable in the OS X 10.11.4 update.

Apple switches back to the old tool it used for network connectivity on your Mac. With the return of mDNSResponder, your OS X Yosemite WiFi problems should be a thing of the past. 

Users who are already on OS X El Capitan should consider instaling the OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 update as it includes a previously released fix for WiFI reliability. 

If you still have WiFi problems, check out our guide to fix common OS X El Capitan problems

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