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How to install Front Row on OS X Lion

One feature of prior versions of OS X that Apple removed in Lion was Front Row, which some people used regularly to view photos and videos. Here is how to reinstall Front Row.

One of the features that Apple removed from OS X with the release of Lion is the Front Row feature, which allowed Macs to be used as media stations for viewing movies, photos, TV shows, and listening to music through a uniform full-screen media-browser interface. While Apple may have removed this feature from lack of use, a number of people have complained on the Apple Discussion Boards about it being missing from Lion. If you have used Front Row and are dissatisfied with it being missing in Lion, luckily there is a way to get it back.

First you will need either a system with Snow Leopard, a recent Time Machine backup of a Mac running Snow Leopard, or a Snow Leopard install DVD.

If you have another Mac that is running Snow Leopard, then you can access the files needed for running Front Row, and copy them to your Lion installation. The files are the following:

/Applications/Front Row.app
/System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row.app

If you have a Time Machine backup of your Snow Leopard Mac, then you should be able to locate these files in the same folders on your Time Machine drive, which you can browse to manually in the Finder.

Installing with Pacifist
Here is the location of the Front Row application in Pacifist. The other components are in their respective locations.

If you do not have access to an active Snow Leopard installation or a Time Machine backup of a Snow Leopard installation, then you can use the Snow Leopard installation DVD to install Front Row. First you will need to download the package management tool Pacifist so you can extract just the files you need from the Snow Leopard installer. Then open the OS X installer disc with the program (choose this from the program's File menu), and follow these directions:

  1. Navigate to the Contents of OSInstall.mpkg > Contents of EssentialSystemSoftware > Contents of EssentialSystemSoftwareGroup >Contents of Essentials.pkg folder.

  2. Go to the /Applications/ folder, select "Front Row.app" and click the "Install" button to install it, and use administrator privileges when installing.

  3. Go to the /System/Library/CoreServices/ folder, select the "Front Row.app" file and likewise install it.

  4. Go to the /System/Library/LaunchAgents/ folder and install the "com.apple.RemoteUI.plist" file.

  5. Go to the /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/ folder and install both the BackRow.framework and iPhotoAccess.framework files.

After you have done this, restart the system and you should now be able to use Front Row, though the options for launching the program may be a bit limited. Since Front Row is not supported on Lion you may still run into some bugs and incompatibilities, especially as Apple further develops the OS and other applications, but this should allow the program to run for now. Moving forward, however, you might look at some Front Row alternatives such as Plex or XBMC.

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