Make Lion look like Snow Leopard

Karl Hodge
2 July, 2012
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Is Lion Apple’s Vegemite OS? We love it. Mission Control, Launchpad, AirDrop and iBooks Author are all exclusive to Lion. What is there to complain about?

Well, some people do complain about Lion, and we think those folks were just really, really attached to Snow Leopard. We can understand why. For many, it was the slickest version of OS X ever. Lion builds on that base and adds bells and whistles, cool tools and extra features. Great if you’re quick to adapt. Not so good if you like the status quo.

So, this one’s for you guys. For those who upgraded to Lion and miss Snow Leopard. It’s for the curious too, because we’ll show you how to get the look and feel of Snow Leopard, without rolling back.

1) Reverse scroll

Why’s the page moving in the wrong direction? That’s Lion for you – all touchscreeny and swipey, even when you’re using a mouse with a scroll wheel. If it bugs you, open System Preferences and, in the Mouse pane, uncheck ‘Move content in the direction of finger movement when scrolling or navigating’.

2) Display scroll bars

Scroll bars, who needs them? Well, for more than a decade, every version of Mac OS did. Now, they’re gone. Gone until you hover over the edge of the screen, that is. Want them back? Go to System Preferences, open the General pane and, under ‘Show scroll bars’, check Always. Simple.

3) Inertial scrolling

You know when you’re scrolling with the trackpad on a MacBook and you stop but the page keeps going? That’s inertial scrolling and if you don’t like it, you can turn it off. In System Preferences go to Universal Access. Choose Mouse & Trackpad and click Mouse Options. Under Scrolling choose ‘Without Inertia’.

4) No restore

When you shut down Lion, it remembers where all your windows were. Open a program and it will remember the state it was in when you closed it. What if you always want to start with a clean slate? In the General pane of System Preferences uncheck ‘Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps’.

5) Folders in Finder

Open Finder and you’ll now get a view of all your files, helpfully called All My Files, categorised by type.

If you prefer the old Snow Leopard way, you can choose to land in your user folder instead, or any folder. Go to Finder > Preferences, hit General and select your home folder under ‘New Finder windows show’.

6) Remove All My Files icon

Now that you’ve changed the functionality, you
can bin All My Files altogether. Go to Finder > Preferences and choose Sidebar. You can remove or add many folder types and categories from the sidebar, including All My Files. If you untick it, you can bring it back again any time you like.

7) Remove AirDrop

In fact, you can customise pretty much any part of
the Finder to make 
it more like Snow Leopard. Take AirDrop, for example. AirDrop is only really worth having if you have more than one Mac running Lion. Uncheck the icon, and you’ll never need to be reminded of your Mac’s loneliness again.

8 ) View Status and Path

In Lion, the streamlined look extends to every window and dialogue. In some cases, it means you’ve actually lost some functionality. For example, the Status Bar info has disappeared from the Finder, as has the old Path Bar. Go to the View menu with the Finder active and you can bring both them back.

9) Change icons in Finder

You can still customise the Finder toolbar in Lion, but the functionality is a little harder to find. There are two ways to access it. Either go to the View menu and choose Customise Toolbar or Control-click on the toolbar to bring up a contextual menu.

10) Show Library folder

Controversially, Lion hides the Library folder in your home directory. Why? We have no idea. Especially when the other Library folder – the one in root – is still visible. Anyway, open up a Terminal window and type chflags nohidden ~/Library to get it back.

11) Remove icons

Some people like Launchpad and Mission Control – they like them very much. But if it’s the Snow Leopard look and feel you’re after, they’ve gotta go. And it’s easy to say goodbye to them forever, or until you change your mind. Just drag the icons from the Dock and poof, they’re gone.

12) Use Exposé shortcuts

Mission Control replaces Exposé and it uses the same shortcuts. So, even though you’ve dragged Mission Control from the Dock, you can still utilise the functionality of the feature using familiar key combinations. And just keep saying to yourself “It’s Exposé, it’s Exposé…” over and over.

13) Old Dashboard

Do you remember the old Dashboard where your widgets lived? Open it and it would zoom into view over your desktop. Those were the days. Now it has its own screen in Mission Control. Don’t want that? Go to Mission Control Preferences in System Preferences and uncheck ‘Show Dashboard as a space’.

14) Snow Leopard desktop

We could tell you how to extract the default wallpapers from a Snow Leopard disc, but the fastest way to get the old Snow Leopard desktop background is to Google ‘Snow Leopard Wallpaper’. When you find a good one, open it in Safari, Control-click and select ‘Use Image as Desktop Picture’.

15) Mail

There’s been some uproar about the way Lion re-skins some of your favourite programs, with most of the vitriol reserved for Mail and its new three-column view. Don’t like it? You don’t have to live with it. In Mail’s preferences, click on the Viewing tab, then check ‘Use classic layout’.


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