How to improve your OS X Lion experience


In this article, take a look at some great tips, tricks and hints in order to customize Lion and one of the best weapons in our armory is a free Mac app (with optional donation) named Lion Tweaks. So head over to the Lion Tweaks website and download then install this great app before backing up your data and getting started.

Apple's next iteration of Mac operating system has been recently unveiled and looks set to be its most accomplished computer OS to date, bringing Mac OS X and iOS closer to each other than ever before and adding many completely new features too.

Apple's decision to make Mac OS X Lion available exclusively through the Mac App Store has proven to be a sound one, both from an environmental standpoint and one of convenience, as it allows Mac users to receive the latest and greatest Mac operating system without needing to leave the comfort of their own home - providing an internet connection is present, of course.

With OS X Lion fast approaching its first birthday, Mac owners have had plenty of time to get their hands on the king of the jungle and the reaction from these users has been overwhelmingly positive - it has been a long time since a version of OS X brought so many innovations in one package, combining ease of use with flexibility and power. However, there's always room for improvement and whether you'd like to change the Desktop Background, resize the Dock or disable Dashboard, it's often worthwhile to make such changes and ensure Lion more fully reflects one's own tastes.

iCAL & Address book graphics in Mac OS X


Apple's recent change of iCal and Address Book visuals leave some veteran Mac users wishing for something which more closely resembles the older style interface as seen in Snow Leopard. Happily, this can be achieved simply, with the help of the aforementioned app Lion Tweaks. Launch Lion Tweaks and navigate toward the relevant option for 'Change iCal Leather to Aluminium' and 'Change Addressbook (sic) Leather to Aluminium'. Finally, select yes for each and follow the installer's simple instructions.

If you wish to revert iCal or Address Book back to their default look, just launch Lion Tweaks once more and select "no" instead of "yes" for each option.

Disable Dashboard on Mac OS X


Many people make use of the OS X Dashboard daily and find the widgets useful. So if you're one of these people, it's probably best to leave Dashboard alone. However, Dashboard can be something of a resource- hog for older and slower machines, so if you yourself wishing to disable Dashboard and reclaim some RAM, just launch OS X's Terminal app (located in Applications> Utilities) and copy/paste the following text into the Terminal window, pressing return after each line:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard
mcx-disabled -boalean YES

killall Dock


Don't worry about the slightly ominous sounding 'killall' command, this simply instructs Lion to stop running the Dock for a moment so it can restart and is no more harmful than exiting an application with a right-click and quit.

If you decide you'd like to bring back the Dashboard, just enter the above commands into Terminal again but replace YES with NO, as follows:

defaults write com.apple.dash board
mcx-disabled -boolean NO

killall Dock


Sharpen Finder's Claws to make OS X Library folder visible


In an effort to make Lion more novice- proof, the OS X Library folder is now invisible by default - but this can make troubleshooting misbehaving apps somewhat tricky, so if you'd like to make the Library folder visible once again there are two options - either use Lion Tweaks to perform the required task by clicking the relevant option to yes, or enter the following text into the OS X Terminal app:

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

Further to this, if you would like the remaining free hard drive space to be visible once again at the bottom of each Finder window, just open a new Finder window and navigate to View -> Show Status Bar.

How to return scrolling direction to default in Mac OS X


One of the most contentious changes brought to OS X Lion is Apple's overhaul of the Mac trackpad gestures to match iOS more closely, effectively turning the trackpad vertical axis upside-down. Personally, I found myself adjusting to this new method quickly and now prefer it, but if you feel otherwise, simply launch System Preferences and navigate to Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom > Scroll Direction: Natural and un-tick the box adjacent to the relevant text.

How to bring back scrollbars in Mac OS X


If you find yourself missing those scrollbars which were present in previous versions of OS X but are now hidden by default, just navigate to System Preferences > General and click on the relevant option under the 'Show scroll bars': menu option.

Customize Dock in Mac OS X


OS X Lion's Dock is perhaps the primary method by which most of us interact with our Macs and its therefore it is fitting that the Dock contain many options for tweaking both its function and form. Firstly, head over to System Preferences > Dock to bring up the Dock preference pane. From here we can choose whether to situate the Dock on the left, bottom or right of the screen and also specify the Dock's size and whether or not magnification will be used.

In addition to the above changes, we can use the Terminal or Lion Tweaks to make the 2D Dock appear in all positions. To perform this command with Terminal, copy/paste the following text:

defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass
-boolean YES

killall Dock


As with the previously discussed Dashboard-hiding command, to undo the 2D Dock, we just enter the above text into Terminal once again but replace YES with NO.

How to enable AirDrop on older Macs


AirDrop is an excellent utility for sharing files between Macs, but it will only work on newer machines. By making use of Lion Tweaks once again, we can add this missing functionality to older Macs - just launch Lion Tweaks and search for the option 'Enable Airdrop on old Hardware'.

In order to make the AirDrop change take effect, you must either restart your Mac or launch Terminal and enter the following text:

killall Finder

How to customize system preferences in Mac OS X


System Preferences houses multiple preference panes to allow easy access to your settings. However, if you find your System Preferences window becoming a little too crowded or would otherwise just like to hide some settings, click on View > Customize and use the tick boxes to show or hide the desired preference pane.

How to change desktop background in Mac OS X


If you would like to change your background (or wallpaper) to something other than the default, either right-click somewhere on the Desktop and select 'Change Desktop Background' or select the Desktop & Screensaver pane within System Preferences.

Conclusion


Just like all previous versions of OS X, Lion's beautiful graphics sit atop a very robust and flexible Unix framework which can be altered to more fully integrate with your lifestyle and preferences. So, while making a backup first is always very much recommended, don't be afraid to dive right in and get started making Lion truly roar.


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