Lion is one the most comprehensive updates to OS X ever. After Snow Leopard, an update that mostly streamlined and tweaked the status quo, that’s easy to see. Yet with Mission Control, full-screen mode, iOS-style scrolling and all the other tweaks, it’s no surprise that Lion’s many new features are a boon to some and a bane to others.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time getting used to the new OS X and have had time to decide which bits we love and which we merely put up with. We’ve also been listening to what other people are saying about Lion. Here we show you how to disable or tweak some of the features that have proven less than popular.
Some people like the see-through menu bar, some don’t. We’re in the latter camp, preferring a solid background for our many icons and widgets. If you’re with us on this, go to Desktop & Screen Saver in System Preferences. Click the Desktop tab and untick the Translucent Menu Bar entry.
By default, the Dock sits on screen like some unwelcome lump. One of the first things we do on OS X, is set it to auto-hide. That way, we can have the Dock pop up when we want it and disappear when we don’t. Go to System Preferences > Dock and tick Automatically hide and show the Dock.
Lion’s trackpad scrolling behaviour divides users. To restore the old default, click Trackpad in System Preferences and choose Scroll & Zoom. Untick Scroll direction: natural. If you’re wondering what we mean, you probably don’t have a MacBook, where scrolling in Lion has been flipped around.
In Lion’s brilliant full-screen mode, some applications don’t play well. Chrome, for example, is still a bit on the buggy side. The new mode clashes with its own built-in full-screen mode. If you find yourself stuck in full screen, with no sign of Lion’s minimise button, hit Control-Shift-F to escape.
Space is ace – but if you prefer not to stick with the default, starry desktop in Lion, Control-click and pick Change Desktop Background from the context-sensitive menu that appears. Alternatively, Control-click on any locally stored image to get the option to set it as wallpaper.
Where’s the Library folder? Lion doesn’t trust you with it is the short answer. But you still might need to access it – to delete old preference files for example. It’s still there, just hidden. Open Terminal in Applications/Utilities and type “chflags nohidden ~/Library” to get your Library directory back.
Sometimes, when you shut down an application you want a clean start the next time it opens. Lion’s default Resume behaviour continues where you left off though. To shut down without saving the current state, hold down Option-Cmd-Q when you quit to activate the Quit and Discard Windows option.
Want to turn off Resume completely? Open System Preferences and go to the General tab. Untick the box labelled Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps and say goodbye to Resume across the board. Remember though, the Resume behaviour slots straight into Apple’s cloud-driven future.
Closely related, you can lock documents to the last edit you made – effectively stopping Auto Save. Find Time Machine in the System Preferences tab and click the Options button. Untick the Lock documents [x days/weeks/etc] after last edit box.
Lion has global auto correction built-in. It’s great on mobile devices, but can be annoying on desktop machines. Go to Language & Text in System Preferences, click the Text tab and untick the box labelled Correct spelling automatically. Lion will immediately cease judging your lack of spelling prowess.
There are one or two other changes to applications and OS behaviour you can fix. For example, you can choose which Folder the new Finder opens instead of the All My Files view. Go to Finder > Preferences > General and and change the New Finder windows show: drop-down to whatever you like.
While we’re fiddling with the Finder, we can force it to display the size data that old versions used to. Just open a Finder Window and hit Cmd-/. This brings back the footer missing from Lion’s Finder. This not only reports the size of individual files but updates you on the amount of space left on your drive.
This one’s a pet peeve. In Preview, when you’re turning PDF pages, Lion animates it. Hold down the Option key and, thankfully, you’re spared this attempt by the Apple UI team to add real-world simulation to every single application they make.
Oh, do you remember when Dashboard used to appear in a transparent overlay? Now it has its own Space. Meh. Set it back to the way it used to be by going to System Preferences and choosing Mission Control. Untick the box labelled Show Dashboard as a space.
By the way, once you’ve finished all this System Preference tweaking, you can customise which preference panes appear. With System Preferences open, go to the View menu and choose Customize. You can now untick the panels you want to bin.