How to Make Your OS X Lion Purr Like a Snow Leopard

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I know, you generally love Lion, but you also sometimes hate Lion and wish it would just settle down and respect your commands, several of which probably involve getting it to behave like its predecessor. We can help, or at least point out some of your options, say you’re partial to Apple’s prior cat.

The following tip sheet isn’t an endorsement of one OS over the other, it’s just…call it a reminder that, much as Apple’s ideas often do turn out to be innovative in hindsight, those changes needn’t be religious mandates. Conformity isn’t automatically a bad thing, and sometimes crawling out of your bubble’s in fact a good thing, but in plenty of cases it’s still clearly a matter of “Apple says tuh-MAY-toe, you say tuh-MAH-toe.”

(PHOTOS: The Long, Extraordinary Career of Steve Jobs)

Turn those vanishing scroll bars back on, permanently. Scrollbars can be indispensable, especially when you’re paging through a 1,000-page manuscript or your 20,000+ song iTunes collection. Under Lion, scrollbars automatically disappear when you’re not scrolling, requiring you scroll the view somehow to conjure them (even then, they disappear again after just a few seconds). If you’d rather they appear all the time, as they do in Snow Leopard, you can force Lion’s hand by opening System Preferences, tapping ‘General’, then selecting ‘Always’ under the ‘Show Scroll Bars’ heading.

Flip Lion’s inverse scrolling. I didn’t start using OS X until right before the shift to Intel processors, but as far as I know (and as long as I’ve been using Macs), swiping down scrolled down, and swiping up drove things up. Under Lion, Apple’s reversed this (up is down, down is up!) probably to bring OS X into accord with iOS, where the pointer is literally your fingertip. If you’d rather windows scrolled as they did in Snow Leopard, you can set things right by bringing up System Preferences, tapping ‘Trackpad’, selecting the ‘Scroll & Zoom’ tab, then unchecking ‘Scroll direction: natural’.

Disable inertia scrolling. In Lion, if you scroll up or down quickly, then let go, the screen keeps on going, allowing you to lift your fingers (to keep scrolling) without arresting the momentum. If you find it screws up your precision, or it’s just not for you, you can remedy this by bringing up System Preferences, tapping ‘Universal Access’, selecting the ‘Mouse & Trackpad’ tab, tapping ‘Trackpad Options’, then selecting ‘without inertia’ from the ‘Scrolling’ drop-down.

Make Mission Control work like Exposé used to (sort of). Mission Control is, for better or worse, Apple’s attempt to unify Exposé, Spaces, Dashboard and full-screen apps. Some people love it, some people hate it. If you’re among the latter, alas, you can’t actually force it back to Exposé’s discrete divisional approach, but you can partially resurrect it by going into System Preferences, tapping ‘Trackpad’, selecting the ‘More Gestures’ tab, and enabling ‘App Exposé’, which allows you to discretely sort windows within an application by swiping down with three fingers on your trackpad.

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