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Five quick Lion tips to make the transition easier

Apple's Lion OS comes with a number of enhancements and changes, but some of these may be a bit confusing to users. Here are some tips to help manage the changes.

OS X Lion contains a number of new features (over 250 of them, according to Apple), and while some of these are exciting and new features such as autosave, versions, full screen apps, and Airdrop, other changes may be a bit different and take some getting used to. Here are a few tips that may help to make the transition to the Lion interface easier or at least make it feel more familiar.

  1. Undo reversed scroll direction

    The very first new feature that might strike you when using Lion is that the default scroll direction has been reversed to behave more like the iPad. While intuitive from some respects, especially when using touch devices like Apple's trackpad, it goes counter to the way scrolling has been used in computers for ages and may be confusing to some people. To reverse this, go to the Scroll & Zoom section of the trackpad system preferences and uncheck the "Scroll direction: natural" option (thank goodness Apple kept this behavior configurable).

    Uncheck this box to revert the scrolling behavior.
  2. Revert new Mail view

    Beside Safari, Apple's Mail program is perhaps one of the most used and the version in Lion comes with a number of user interface enhancements, many of which are welcome additions to the program. One of these is the new side-by-side message layout, which may be enjoyed by some people, but may also be an unwanted change for others. To revert Mail back to the previous view, go to the Viewing section of Mail's preferences and check the "Use Classic Layout" option.

    Click this checkbox to revert the new Mail view
  3. Show Library folder

    Another feature you might be missing when running Lion is the user library folder is missing. The folder is not in fact gone, but has been flagged to be hidden because for most purposes people will not be directly accessing this folder. However, to change this behavior and have the folder be accessible you can do one of two things.

    The first is to run the "chflags nohidden ~/Library" command in the Terminal to unhide the folder, and the second is to add the folder to the Finder sidebar and then hide it again using the "chflags hidden ~/Library" command. This will create a visible link in the sidebar that will allow you quick access to the Library without it being present in the Finder.

    You can have the Library accessible in the sidebar while keeping it hidden in the Finder
  4. Organize Finder sidebar

    A new change in Lion is the organization of the Finder sidebar, where Apple has placed user-centric items like the new "All my files" feature at the top and placed drive devices at the bottom of the sidebar. In prior OS versions the hard drives were at the top, but this is no longer the case. If you prefer to have the hard drive close to where it used to be, you can drag it to that location in the Favorites list, and rearrange the list so it more closely matches the previous layout of the sidebar.

  5. Enable Path bar and scroll bars

    Apple is always looking to simplify and minimize the impact of the user interface, but in doing so in the Finder, one useful feature they removed was the status bar that shows the available space on the hard drive and the number of items in the current folder. To re-enable this bar, go to the View menu in the Finder and choose "Show Status Bar."

    Click this button to always show the system's scroll bars.

    In addition to the status bar, the lack of scroll bars may be fun and sleek, but it also removes a persistent indicator of where you are in a file, and the a visual indication of the overall size of a document or list of items. To make the scroll bars persistent again, go to the General system preferences pane (used to be called Appearance) and click the radio button for the option to always show the scroll bars.

  6. Add color back to the Finder!

    Sorry, this can't be done (yet). While some people may soon find a way to hack the Finder to add color back to the sidebar, Apple seems determined to keep these type of features consistent with Mail and iTunes, as a fairly bland (if I may give my opinion) gray-on-gray listing of items.

Do you have any tips or tricks for Lion's interface and new features? If so, then post them below in the comments.

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