I’m planning on buying OS X Lion, and was curious about what professionals like you do when you install a new operating system like this.
David Mitchell

Every Mac user, be they professional or otherwise, is different, and we all develop certain work habits. Some things we’d change might be features you love. With that in mind, this is what we generally do first after upgrading:

Run Software Update Apple often releases patches and updates with new OS versions. To make sure OS and Apple applications are as up to date as possible, run Software Update (available from the Apple menu) immediately after upgrading.

Kill the translucent menu bar We’ve never been fans of this. To restore the menu bar to its time-honored off-white hue, open the Desktop & Screen Saver system preference, select the Desktop tab, and disable the Translucent Menu Bar option.

Maintain scroll direction We do most of our pointing and clicking with a mouse rather than a trackpad. We understand why Apple changed the direction for scrolling with a trackpad – it truly is a natural extension of the feel of the iOS – but that scrolling style makes no sense to us when we’re using a mouse with a scroll wheel. For this reason, we make sure the Move content in the direction of finger movement when scrolling or navigating option is unchecked in the Mouse system preference.

Make Dock folders useful Another Apple design decision that we don’t use is the way that the Documents and Downloads folders (stacks) are displayed in the Dock. We generally have a lot of files in these folders, and the Fan and Grid views are a poor way to display them. Instead, we Control-click (or right-click) on these stacks and display them as folders in List view.

Hide the Dock We rely on utilities such as Objective Development’s LaunchBar (www.obdev.at) and TLA Systems’ DragThing (www.dragthing.com) to navigate to our files, so we rarely need to see the Dock. Select Dock from the Apple menu and choose Turn Hiding On.

Search for System Files Under Lion, the Finder’s search window still won’t search for files in the System and Library folders by default. We often muck around in these folders and want the Finder’s search function to work there as well. To make that happen, press Cmd-F in the Finder to bring up a search window.

From the Kind pop-up menu near the top of the window, select Other. In the sheet that appears, enter System in the search field. Next, tick the In Menu checkbox locatd next to the System Files entry that appears in this window, so that you have the option to easily search for files that appear in System and Library folders.

Tweak the sidebar Apple’s collection of sidebar items – applications, desktop and documents, for example – are a start, but they’re hardly the be-all and end-all of sidebar shortcuts. We recommend dragging your user folder and the Drop Box folder within the Public folder into the sidebar.