Apple Releases OS X El Capitan 10.11.4

New Notes Encryption, Security Updates, and Plenty of Bug Fixes

OS X El Capitan Desktop and Dock
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Apple has released OS X El Capitan 10.11.4. This update comes on the heels of Apple’s “Let Us Loop You In” March media event, at which Apple showed off the new iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Along with the hardware, iOS 9.3 was released to the public, which required Apple to move forward with the El Capitan release to keep feature parity in the Notes application.

El Capitan Notes Update

One of the new Notes app features is the ability to protect the contents of a Notes entry using a passcode.

In iOS 9.3, the passcode can be a password or a fingerprint. In OS X El Capitan 10.11.4, the passcode is a password you set.

Notes in OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 also added the ability to sort notes alphabetically, by date created, or by date updated; also, Notes can now import from many popular note-taking services, including Evernote.

Additional El Capitan Updates

Live Photos is now supported, using both AirDrop and Messages. Previously, the only way to view a Live Photos image in El Capitan was using the Photos app.

Photos also saw its ability to import RAW images improved. In previous versions of El Capitan, the speed at which RAW images opened in Photos could be excruciatingly slow.

iBooks can now store PDF versions in iCloud, allowing you to use any device to access your library of reading material.

Safari no longer has problems making use of Twitter t.co links. Although this problem only affected a handful of users, not being able to follow a Twitter shortcut was a pain, forcing some to use a different browser from time to time.

Other fixes include a Mail problem that prevented Gmail messages from making use of VIP mailbox, USB audio devices that would disconnect on their own, or not be seen by your Mac, and for those of you with a 12-inch MacBook, the reliability of USB-C multiport adapters has been improved.

OS X El Capitan Security Updates

Most OS X point updates are driven by performance, bug, and security fixes, and this update has its share of security updates.

A brief look at some of the updates include:

Fixing an issue in apache_mod_php that could allow a maliciously crafted .png image to allow arbitrary code execution.

AppleRAID could allow execution of arbitrary code, as well as allow a local user to determine kernel memory layout.

AppleUSBNetworking could allow memory corruption when parsing data from a USB device. This could lead to arbitrary code execution.

Bluetooth memory corruption could allow code execution.

dyld (Dynamic Link Editor) could allow an attacker to tamper with code-sign apps, allowing inserted code to be executed.

Fixed an issue in Messages where clicking a JavaScript link embedded in a message could reveal sensitive user information.

Fixed a Messages issue that could allow an individual to read an encrypted message.

There are many additional security updates, affecting both the OS and many of its apps. You can find a complete list of the security updates at: OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 Security Update 2016-002.

How to Update

As with all operating system updates, make sure you have a current backup of your Mac. Even better, a current clone of your Mac’s startup drive would allow you to quickly recover should something go wrong with the update process, or the update have an unusual side effect on an important app or service you use.

The OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 update is available from the Mac App store. You can also find a combo update of OS X El Capitan, including the 10.11.4 update, available from the Apple download site.

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