Mac OS X Lion has been around long enough to bring to light some quirks that aren’t exactly endearing. None are deal-breakers, so I won’t be going back to Snow Leopard, but here are five things I really wish were different about OS X 10.7.


Mac OS X Lion has been around long enough to bring to light some quirks that aren’t exactly endearing. None are deal-breakers, in my opinion, so I won’t be going back to Snow Leopard anytime soon, but here are five things I really wish were different about OS X 10.7.

  1. Dashboard as a Space. Dashboard is one of the most useless additions ever made to OS X in my opinion, and Apple didn’t make it any better by now making it a mandatory Space all its own. Swiping left from your primary desktop could do so many useful things (activate a better full-screen Spotlight search interface, for instance), but instead it presents you with a bunch of widgets that do things Menu bar apps can handle, but with far less efficiency.
  2. No simple clean install option. Every six months or so, I like to completely wipe and reinstall OS X on my Macs. It’s great that Apple is doing away with physical media in many ways, but it’s also aggravating that there really isn’t an easy way to do a complete erase and reinstall of OS X. At least there are workaround options, like reinstalling from Apple’s servers or formatting a bootable Lion flash drive, but both require extra steps.
  3. Managing Launchpad. Launchpad in Lion suffers from some of the same usability issues that home screens in iOS used to have. Specifically, it’s quite a chore to reorganize apps and folders in Launchpad. Just give us a utility that lets users make the same kind of macro-level changes you can make in iTunes and this problem goes away.
  4. Multi-touch quirks. Apple introduced new multi-touch gestures in OS X Lion, which means a lot of the gestures third-party apps were using for basic navigation are now broken, like back and forward in Chrome. Also, I’ve had more trouble using gestures like two-finger back and forward in Safari than I ever had in Snow Leopard, because the gestures appear to be more sensitive.  I love swiping between full-screen apps, but why isn’t that a four-finger action by default, leaving three-finger gestures to manage back/forward actions system-wide (especially in Finder)?
  5. App window restore everywhere. Restore and Resume features are useful in OS X — in some applications. In others, like Preview, they tend to be more annoying than helpful. I would have liked to see some more judicious decision-making about which native apps got window restore features and which didn’t, or at least a central Preference pane where you can manually pick and choose which apps make use of the behavior.

These are my gripes so far with Lion, but in another article to come shortly, I’ll talk about the things that keep me using Apple’s latest OS, despite these problems. What are your top five (or any number, really) problems with the king of the operating system jungle?

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  1. You can disable dashboard as a desktop. That should be taken off your list

    1. Will Bramlett F Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      Mine never showed up because I disabled it in Snow Leopard!

    2. Might want to do some research on that one first, huh?

  2. Josh Sunshine Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    The Dashboard space isn’t mandatory, you can disable it. System Preferences > Mission Control > Uncheck “Show Dashboard as a space”.

  3. You can turn off Dashboard as a space in the preferences. It was one of the first things I did.

  4. Mike McGregor Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    clean install is dead easy too. restart holding down option, select the recovery option, wipe the hard disk from disk utility, then install lion. boom.

  5. And you can take number 5 off your list as well:
    Quit and Discard Windows : Option + Command + @

    1. (FTFY Option + Command + Q)
      Maybe you are right – but cmd+Q is one of the hardest habits to replace. Windows restore in Safari and Preview is a bad move for me.
      I agree with the need of a preference somewhere.

      1. Simply close the windows you do not want to re-open before you quit the program.

      2. http://www.ickypeople.com/2011/07/turn-off-lion-os-x-restore-for.html

        Just thought I’d put that out there, yes it’s annoying that you need to mess around in files per app but if it’s worth it to you, do it. I personally close out every window by habit (I have a trackpad gesture for that) but if I didn’t I would definitely do this.

  6. Félix Grondin Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    I agree with the launchpad mess, please Apple, fix that in an update

    For me, the lack of support for full screen apps with multiple monitors is the biggest turn off.

    Also, you can’t manually reorganize spaces anymore!

  7. The one thing I can’t stand about lion is its inability to use an external monitor to watch videos/read while using an app in full-screen mode. I’ve disabled fullscreen mode for everything (although I don’t want to) if I want to watch videos on my external using my mac. They better fix this…

  8. Andreas Norén Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    And two finger back and forward swipe is also possible to enable in system prefs. You will get the left and right swipe back but the up and down swipe that I used to jump between mails in mail.app seams completely gone though.

  9. I agree with each one – though the gestures have not bothered me much.

    My biggest complaint would have been the fact that I had to upgrade my RAM for it to run real smooth. I have a mid 2009 MBP and upgraded from 2GB RAM to 4GB. Works good now.

  10. #2: Really, every 6 months? What is this, Windows XP? I suppose if you spend most of your time testing and reviewing beta software (certainly could be the case here), that might be warranted. But regular users shouldn’t get the idea from this post that doing a clean install that frequently is necessary, or even helpful in most cases. I recommend doing a clean install for every major OS release, but honestly, even that isn’t usually necessary.

    If you really are wiping your Macs so frequently, why not dedicate a USB drive to storing a bootable image of your clean install? Get it set up to the bare minimum that you need. Then every 6 months, pull it out of the closet and clone contents of the USB drive to your computer. It’s even faster and easier than installing from DVD.

    Or, if you must use installation media, you could just burn your Lion installer to a DVD or put it on a bootable USB drive (not officially supported, but looks easy based on a quick Google search).

    1. I have had mac’s for over six years and never had or needed to do a clean install. Simply upgraded each time. I did a clean install on Snow Leopard but that was more me cleaning up everything on my drive.

      I have Snow Leopard on a bootable hard drive just in case I wanted to move backward but enjoying Lion so far. It’s Fast!

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