I’m all for progress, and I at least try to work with new systems before I succumb to what I call “changephobia” (apologies to anyone with a psychiatry degree) and try to undo the progress. Be that as it may, we all have to support the changephobic, so we may be called upon to make Lion behave more like Snow Leopard.
In an effort to ease this burden, here’s a compilation of user interface changes in Lion and how to revert them back to familiar behavior for your changephobic charges.
Note: If this information is a bit confusing, refer to the documentation on managing preferences in your client management software. If you don’t have client management software, type “man defaults” into Terminal to learn how to make use of this information at the command line.
Scroll bars appear on demand by default in Mac OS X Lion. The scroll bars, or lack thereof, are governed by .Globalpreferences.plist.
The key that governs when scrollbars appear is called AppleShowScrollBars.
The key contains a string item with the following possible values:
- Automatic – Default Lion behavior. Scroll bars are visible when scrolling with an Apple trackpad and always visible with a mouse.
- WhenScrolling – Scroll bars only appear when scrolling, regardless of pointing device.
- Always – Scroll bars are always visible.
Applications Retain Open Windows
Apps now remember where you were and/or what you were doing when you quit. For example, if Safari is running with www.apple.com and YouTube open in tabs and the Safari preferences window open and one quits Safari without closing those windows, the next time Safari is launched, a tabbed window with apple.com and YouTube will open as will the preferences window. On one hand, this seems pretty useful. The app remembered where I was! On the other hand, when I attach my laptop to the conference room presentation system, I may not want Safari to show my colleagues my bank statement, Aunt Gussie’s secret carrot cake recipe or something not quite appropriate for the office.
This behavior is also managed by .GlobalPreferences.plist.
The relevant key is NSQuitAlwaysKeepsWindows.
This key stores boolean values, either true (default Lion behavior) or false (apps don’t remember your windows).
Dock Indicator Lights Are Missing
This is an odd case. I have been hearing and reading reports of this behavior, that is the blue dots that have appeared under the Dock icons for open applications are missing, however my own observations have shown that the indicator lights are on by default. Whatever the case may be, this is also manageable behavior.
Since we’re working with Dock behavior, the preference file in question is com.apple.dock.plist.
The key is show-process-indicators.
This key uses a boolean value where true means the indicators will be present, and false means they will be missing.
User Library Folders Are Hidden
It makes sense that Apple, being a self-proclaimed consumer device company, would hide things that the typical, non IT-savvy, user wouldn’t need to see and probably wouldn’t understand. Not all users were created equal, and some of the more savvy folks will miss the ability to get at their Library folder.
A user can access their own Library folder with Finder in two ways, both using the Go menu. The first method is to hold down the Option key when exposing the Go menu. This causes “Library” to appear between “Home” and “Computer”. The second method is to choose the “Go to Folder” menu item and type the path (~/Library) into the drop down sheet.
From the command line, a user could execute the following command:
The following command will make the Library folder permanently visible in Finder.
chflags nohidden ~/Library
Scripting tip: if you read your users from dscl into a variable, using a for loop, and the explicit path to each user’s Library (using the users variable) you can make this change for all users.
That’s the first batch I’ve found. If you have noticed any other new behavior you’d like to be able to change, let me know in the comments.