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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Make “stuck” keys repeatable again. Hold down a key in Lion and what do you see? Yep, nothing (well, except for the ‘delete’ key, which seems to be exempt). Want keys to repeat as they did under Snow Leopard, so you can crank out words like yeeeeeoooooouuuuuch and the occasional run-on ellipsis with ease? You’ll have to bring up Terminal (in the Applications – Utilities folder), quit out of apps, then type (or paste) the following command, though—warning—how to turn it back on is unclear (hat tip: @mikeindustries and MacRumors).

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

Deactivate new window zooming. Open a new window under Lion and it zooms out at you, doubtless consuming unnecessary CPU cycles. If you’d rather windows simply “pop” open, as in Snow Leopard, you can make it so by bringing up Terminal, then typing (or pasting) the following command (hat tip: @tomasf and MacRumors).

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool NO

(MORE: The Ups and Downs of Mac OS X Lion)

Switch Apple Mail back to its original top-bottom layout. In Lion, Apple Mail defaults to a two column-view: message previews on the left, full content on the right. To set things back as they were in Snow Leopard, first click the “show” button in Apple Mail’s upper-left menubar (to reenable folder views), then bring up Preferences, selecting the ‘Viewing’ tab, and checking ‘Use classic layout’.

Disable animations in Apple Mail. Lion loves animations, including various new bits and bobs in Apple Mail. If you don’t, you can disable these by bringing up Terminal and typing (or pasting) the following command (hat tip: @mikeindustries).

defaults write DisableReplyAnimations -bool YES

Stop unclosed app windows from reappearing each time you launch an app. In prior versions of OS X, closing an app meant closing an app. Under Lion, any app windows you didn’t close individually stick around when you close the app, magically reappearing when you relaunch it. The idea’s either to preserve your workspace, safeguard whatever you’re working on, or both. If you’d rather do things the old way, where terminating the app kills everything, you can do so by bring up System Preferences, tapping ‘General’, and deselecting ‘Restore windows when quitting and opening apps’ near the bottom. If, alternatively, you’d prefer to do this on an app by app basis, simply hold the option key down when selecting the app’s ‘quit’ option from Finder, and it’ll change to ‘quit and discard windows’.

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Reenable Finder’s status bar. Finder used to display a status bar at window bottom, but Apple’s set it to default off, as in a Safari browser window. If you miss its quick context-sensitive info bits, e.g. file selection metrics and disk space remaining, you can turn it back on by selecting ‘View’ from a Finder window, then clicking ‘Show Status Bar’.

Locate ‘Library’ in your home folder. Under Lion, the ‘Library’ folder is no more, or rather viewing it through Finder no longer works. Here’s the simplest way back to it: Select ‘Go’ from the default Finder menu, then hold down the option key. Presto! It should magically appear on the selection menu.

Make Finder’s sidebar look like it used to. Lion’s ‘Favorites’ bar in a new Finder window looks nothing like Snow Leopard’s. If you find that unsettling, or you’d like to rearrange the furniture, you can do so by dragging stuff you don’t want off the sidebar (poof!), then bring up Finder’s preferences, select the ‘Sidebar’ tab, and check (or uncheck) items you’d like to see/not-see, e.g. turning on the ‘Hard disks’ device view, which lets you quickly browse your Mac’s files (and view used/free space).

Make Dashboard work like it used to. Under Lion, Dashboard’s been relegated to second-string status, no longer on the dock by default (you can get it back by dragging it out of Applications and onto the dock). It’s also by default been assimilated by Mission Control, which means that instead of sliding in over your current screen, it gets it own, imposed over a backdrop that resembles the underside of a floor mat. You can remedy this by bringing up System Preferences, tapping Mission Control, then unchecking ‘Show Dashboard as a space’ (and for new MacBook Air owners, the key command to bring up Dashboard is now fn-F12).

MORE: How I Dislike Thee, OS X Lion, Let Me Count the Ways

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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