How To De-iOS-ify Mac OS X Lion

How To De-iOS-ify Mac OS X Lion

Mac OS X Lion was designed to bring the best of iOS to the desktop, but perhaps you don’t believe there is such a thing. If you want to get rid of all the iOS-inspired stuff found in Lion, here’s how to do it.Image remixed from an original by Eric Kilby.


Restore “Unnatural” Scrolling

“Natural” scrolling may be one of the worst changes in Lion. It makes sense on your iDevice, because you’re actually touching the content and you can see yourself moving it. When you’re on a trackpad it feels strange that you move your fingers up to scroll down. Thankfully, Apple had the foresight to allow you to turn this off. Just go into System Preferences, choose Trackpad, click on the Scroll & Zoom tab, and uncheck “Scroll direction: natural”. That’ll bring things back to normal.


Turn On the (Indicator) Lights

You know how iOS doesn’t display any indicator that the app is open? Well, neither does Lion by default. Again, this makes sense on iOS because your apps just launch when you tap on them and you can only see one at a time. That is to say, it doesn’t matter if they’re open or not. On OS X, however, it’s helpful to know what you’ve launched and what you haven’t. It’s information that’s actually useful rather than confusing. To turn it back on, just go to System Preferences, choose Dock, and then check the box next to “Show indicator lights for open applications”.


Don’t Autocorrect Your Spelling

Autocorrect can be useful, but it can also the source of horrible (but hilarious) mistakes. If you don’t want to use it, just open System Preferences, head to the Language & Text section, click Text, and uncheck the box next to “Correct spelling automatically”.


Disable Application Restore

iOS applications can restore themselves to the state they were in when you last used them, and now Mac OS X can do this, too. In most cases this is pretty useful, but sometimes it doesn’t work properly and, with some apps, it’s actually a nuisance. If for whatever reason you want to disable it, you can do this very easily. Just go to System Preferences, click General, and uncheck the box beside “Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps”.

If you want to disable the feature on a per-app basis only, you’re going to need the help of the Terminal (found in Hard Drive — > Applications — > Utilities). Mac developer Wil Shipley discovered that you can just make the edit with one little command:

defaults write NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -bool false

That’s an example for Quicktime Player X, but you just need to swap out the app’s preference file name. You can find it by going into Your Home Folder — > Library — > Preferences and looking for For example, Preview would look like this:

defaults write NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows -int 0

Now you can avoid restore when you don’t want it but keep it for when you do.


Let’s See Some Scroll Bars

Lion’s scrollbars like to disappear, much like they do in iOS. This is nice if you don’t like scrollbars cluttering up your windows, but if it helps to see them you can adjust this preference easily. Just go to System Preferences, choose General, and you’ll see a section called “Show scroll bars”. You’ll have three options. “Automatically based on input device” will give you the default hiding behaviour, “when scrolling” will only show them when scrolling, and “always” is pretty self-explanatory.


Disable Launchpad (Sort Of)

You can’t disable Launchpad entirely, as dragging it out of the dock won’t get rid of it forever. When you restart (your computer or just the dock itself) it’ll pop right back in there. What you can do, however, is remove the gesture that brings up Launchpad. To do that, just head into System Preferences, choose Trackpad, click More Gestures, and uncheck the box next to Launchpad. Now accidental finger flicks won’t cause it to show up.


Get the Old Apple Mail Back

While I think the new Apple Mail interface is a huge improvement, not everyone wants these changes. Maybe you miss the non-widescreen view, or you just want to remove message previews from the list so you can fit more items on the screen. Either way, you can change those settings in the same place. Just go to the Mail menu and choose Preferences. From there, click Viewing and you’ll find the options you want right at the top.


  • I am enjoying all the new Lion features, now I even hate natural scrolling less. THe only thing I really hate is my shutdown process.

    I used to hit fn+control+eject then enter, now before I hit enter I want to remove the ‘reopen windows when logging back in’ flag but I don’t know how to do it with the keyboard or how do I set the reopen windows when logging back in’ flag to always be off?

  • I hate the look of ical. I’d like to know how to change that back. With Mail I’d just like it to work! I can’t get my Gmail to work with pop settings so have migrated over to Thunderbird where everything seems to work just fine. The other thing I didn’t like in the new Mail was the inability to change the size of the fonts on mailboxes.

  • Awesome, thanks for this LH! Will be doing a clean install of Lion once they have 10.7.1 out. I’m looking forward to new mail (love sparrow, but gonna give it a go) and it’s great that they’ve put in the options to do things the way you like.

    I’m not sure I get all the cries about ‘Apple’s Vista’, but then, I never got the animosity towards Vista anyway.

    • When people call it “Apple’s Vista”, they mean just that – an OS that is an improvement, but either their computers or emotions can’t cope with the change, so they blame the company. 😀

      Lion’s changes are mostly great. I don’t personally like Autocorrect or App Restore, but after all, only one of these changes requires anything other than a GUI tickbox to undo.

      If anyone dislikes every feature it provides… Snow Leopard still works. Why are you updating?

  • I was using Quicken 2007 which is originally made for mac. I installed the stupid Mac Ox Lion and I ended up loosing my Quicken file. I can’t open it because it is not supposed. my entire financial information, daily check and balance is in it. How stupid and idiotic is it for Steve Jobs and his moron fellas come with a keynote speech telling us over some hundreds of updates done with the new system and they don’t give you a clue u can loose a file because of the new system. I think we should slap this morons with some law suit.
    I spent over $6, 000 in the last couple of years for apple products and this is how i get paid.

    • If you are not ready to accept someone else’s control over your life, then you are not ready to become a Mac user – I gave up control for simplicity when i came to Mac, and i know that if something doesnt work anymore then it is for a good reason.

      Please consider that they have done this for a good reason and it will become clear in time.

  • My biggest problem with Lion is that the swipe gesture to go back a page is now used for jumping between spaces, other then that I have no problem with it
    @yekuna – there is a reason everyone suggests backing up before doing any software updates mate.

  • @yekuno downgrade from Lion back to Snow Leopard? Hopefully you have backups and can restore your Quicken file from that.
    Perhaps once you have done this you should look into buying the newest version of Quicken that does not require Rosetta?

  • Much easier way of disabling resume on a per app basis (without needing to use the terminal):

    1. Open the app, close all the windows and quit. This will save the state as a fresh relaunch.
    2. Go into your library folder and find the saved application state folder.
    3. Find the saved state folder for the app and lock it.

    Now when you quit the app, Lion won’t be able to write any new saved states to the locked folder and you’ll always restart with a fresh launch. You can easily enable it again by unlocking the folder.

  • I hate Lion, there I said it. I’ve been fighting that thought for over a week now, telling myself, “no, give it a chance, it will grow on you” or “I’m sure they’ll listen to people and fix the really annoying stuff”. The fact is, There is nothing I like about the new “features” and a lot I miss about Snow Leopard.
    Launch Pad??? Waste of time, i use quicksilver. Its just an annoyance that I turned off and deleted from the dock immediately.
    Mission Control. Crap! With spaces I had full control of what went in to which space, including moving App windows from a primary screen on one desktop, to a secondary screen on another. The grid layout also just made sense, not this side to side crap.
    Versions, haven’t had a chance to use it yet as I mainly use Office 2011.
    Mail, aside from the fact that the upgrade was a nightmare, its not too bad, I like the conversations, and searching is much better, however that fact that when you open a mail to read, or create a new mail, it takes control of the screen, BIG no no. If you want to go back in to mail and check another email, you have to save the open email as a draft and close it first before you can to anything else.
    Full Screen apps, I hate the way they insist on taking over the screen on my 13″Mac Book Pro, and not the 26″ attached monitor, what’s the point?
    Anything else, yeah well lets see, what’s with all this grey for the finder icons, its ugly and difficult to use.
    Anyway, its back to Snow Leopard for me, and it will be like that for a while unless there are major changes to Lion in the future.
    I’m very disappointed Apple!

  • Am I the only person who needed a fat scroll bar and arrows at the bottom, where you could just click happily away and move up and down the page without moving your whole hand? I am going insane trying to get my mouse to hover just over the skinny bar to go up and down, and not accidentally pull a bit to the side as it makes the document wider or narrower – UGH

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