Apple's latest OS X, El Capitan, is finally ready to start rolling out on Wednesday, Sept. 30, bringing major updates to a number of features.

The new OS X version 10.11 also fine-tunes the operating system overall and should provide a better experience for Mac users. Apple seeded the OS X El Capitan public beta just last week and the new OS version is set to officially roll out in its final form. The preview page on Apple's website now lists the Sept. 30 release date.

Updates to Safari, Photos, Maps, Notes and Mail are just among the highlights, but the latest OS X version brings many more treats, so here's what you need to know before downloading the update.

Hardware Requirements

The new OS X El Capitan is compatible with the iMac from mid-2007 or later, the MacBook Aluminum model from late 2008 or models from early 2009 and newer, the MacBook Pro from mid-to-late 2007 and newer, the MacBook Air from 2008 or later, the Mac mini from early 2009 or later, and the Mac Pro from early 2008 or later.

Generally, the minimum hardware requirements include 2 GB of RAM, 8 GB of available storage space and an Internet connection. It's worth pointing out that some features may not work on older hardware, as they might require newer specs. Handoff and Continuity, for instance, will not work on older hardware that lacks Bluetooth LE support.

OS X Versions Eligible For Upgrade

Not all older OS X versions are eligible to upgrade to OS X El Capitan, as only four versions of OS X make the list: OS X Snow Leopard (10.6.8), OS X Lion (10.7), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) and OS X Mavericks (10.9). Users running an older version of Snow Leopard will have to upgrade to version 10.6.8 first and only then will they be able to upgrade to El Capitan.

Similarly, Mac users running OS X Leopard (version 10.5) will have to upgrade to OS X Snow Leopard (version 10.6.8). To do so, purchase a $20 OS X Snow Leopard installation disc from Apple, as this update is not available online. After the upgrade to OS X Snow Leopard, users will be able to get OS X El Capitan through the App Store.

Updates To Third-Party Apps

Developers typically put a lot of effort into ensuring that their apps and software are compatible with the new OS X version and often release updates before the OS release date. Check for updates in the App Store or, if you have apps from other sources, check for updates on the developer's website.

Data Backup

Before any major software update, whether it's for a mobile or a desktop OS, it's best to back up your data. Before proceeding with the update to OS X El Capitan, make a data backup using Time Machine or some third-party backup app, or create a clone of your storage device. You can later use that copy of your drive as a boot drive if necessary.

Once OS X El Capital officially starts rolling out, you'll be able to download the update from the Mac App Store.

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