The new OS X 10.11.4 release just hours away, anticipation is high for new features and capabilities. The last OS X update in September of 2015 brought with it multi-touch gestures to mail and messages, public transit information to Maps, an overhaul of the Notes applications and a slew of other updates and enhancements. Now, Mac users look forward to the new features that OS x 10.11.4 promises. Among these new features is password protection for the Notes application and information support for Live Photos. Although a large portion of OS X 10.11.4 is dedicated to bug fixes, security enhancements and performances boosts, there are two long-awaited updates that die-hard users will appreciate. So what are the new features users can look forward to in OS x 10.11.4 and how can you prepare?

OS X 10.11.4 Promises Long-Awaited Features

The Notes app supports password protection

Apple is bringing new features to the Notes app by allowing users to password protect their notes. Users can now protect their entries from the view of prying eyes by securing them behind a single password. However, in order to take advantage of the syncing capability, this feature requires users to have iOS 9.3 installed on their iPhones or iPads. With the update, users are also able to import their Evernote notes into the native Notes app. With support for Evernote’s .enex file format, many have seen this as Apple’s way of converting Evernote users into iCloud users. An additional bonus is that your notes are easily accessed by using your fingerprint on devices fitted with Touch ID.

Information support for Live Photo photos

In the current version of OS X, El Capitan, there is little support for Live Photos, a feature of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Live Photos add character to your photos by recording audio and video before and after each still photo is taken. Although Live Photos can only be taken with iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, they are viewable on all devices running iOS 9 or OS X El Capitan. Previously the only way to properly view Live Photos on the Mac was through the Photos app. Any other way would result in loss of the audio and video components that made them special. In addition to this, Live Photos could only be shared through iCloud Photo Sharing. However, in OS x 10.11.4, users can use the Messages app to send Live Photos.

How can you prepare?

Backing up your data is the most critical step you can take when upgrading your operating system, especially if you are undertaking a clean install. While the chances are good that you can upgrade your OS without losing all of your data, this is no risk worth taking. There is little you can do to reclaim precious photos, videos and documents after they’ve been lost. It is important for all to mitigate the damage if something were to happen to your Mac during the upgrade process. Making a proper backup of your files helps you to get back to normal if something goes wrong during the upgrade.

These updates to OS X, while not game-changing, do allow users a better experience with their Macs as security, usability and integration have all been improved. Most importantly, programs can now be used the way they were intended. Of course, before upgrading, it is of paramount importance that users protect themselves from data loss.