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Summary:

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.

dashboard-feature

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?

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

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    1. Will Bramlett Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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

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

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

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

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  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.

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

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    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.

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

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      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.

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  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!

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  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…

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  8. 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.

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  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.

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  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).

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    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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  11. SPACES!

    This was my favorite feature from previous versions and they upgraded (killed) it. I loved my 9 spaces–I know, a lot, center for web browsing, left for Mail, and so on. Now it’s all confusing and I still don’t know how to assign apps to a space. I don’t like either that you have to go over all of them to get to a specific one and there’s no easy way of recalling where -recently unassigned opened- your app was, you have to go thru Mission Control. It’s irritating.

    Launchpad is also kinda stupid, you can just drag your Applications folder to the dock or CMD-[Spacebar] to call Spotlight, type the first two or three letters of your App’s name and voilà; since Tiger, Spotlight has been my go-to way to open apps.

    And I disagree with you, Dashboard, to me, is one of the features I use the most in Mac OS, I read/write in several languages, yet sometimes I’m lost for words, that’s where Dashboard’s Dictionary and Translation widgets come in handy. Also iStat (third party) and Unit converter are a must. I was disappointed when I thought they had made it a Space permanently, but I just discovered you can turn it off; it’s way easier having your apps as a background to copy text or other data than a gray useless one.

    Dashboard’s sranslator is the best out there, Reverso is also pretty good, but not nearly as comprehensive as Mac OS’. I’d been looking for the engine it’s based on, but had no luck so far. :(

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    1. Félix Grondin Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      You may access a specific space (for example #3) by pressing ctrl+3.

      Also, you may assign an app to a space with a right click on the icon on the dock/options/Assign to this Desktop.

      I Totally agree with you about Spotlight: Simply the best launcher for apps… or anything else, for that matter!

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      1. Thanks for the dock tip, the Ctrl+number or arrow keys, I already knew it, though. :)

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  12. You know, 4 out of 5 of those are easily fixable. Make Dashboard like it was. Turn off restore. Change swiping gestures to how they used to be (somewhat). Clean install is possible, I did it. IMO, the only one worth complaining about (on your list) is #3.

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  13. Angelo Colmenero Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Sorry, but you’re wrong on the forward and back swiping in Chrome, you can still do that, you just need to change your preferences for forward and back swiping to 3 fingers instead of two. You should really tweak around a bit more or research this stuff before you post an article online and mislead many people. With the position you hold, you owe it to everyone to not being a sloppy journalist.

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  14. full screen apps on an extra monitor. it is really annoying to watch the full screen app in a 13″ MBP monitor and a black 24″ lcd monitor. And I miss Chrome! Google please update it!

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  15. Hey all, thanks for the information. Much appreciated. A couple of things I’d like to add:

    1. I don’t seem to have the option when I right click on the icon on a dock to assign it to a space. I like the full screen apps, but like vitaprimo, I would really like to easily be able to control which full screen apps reside on each space so that it’s constant

    2. In relation to Angelo’s comment about “being a better journalist” – come on guys, we’re all learning this together. In my view, it takes courage to put up your views for other people to comment on… none of us know everything, but none of us would have had the forum to learn all this stuff without Darrell kicking off the conversation… I’m sure he’s open to learning something from the outcome too… just like we hope the apple people who read our comments are…

    Anyway, that’s my two bits… thanks all for your input, it’s helped me learn how to use Lion better already.

    Rob

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  16. Seriously? All these things are so minor with configuration options. Please consider writing an article, you’re more talented than this dribble.

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  17. I hate the way desktop wallpaper is handled in Lion. On SL of course, I am require to use the third party tool to have different wallpaper on spaces desktop. In lion you open system preference, change the wall paper, close system preference, go to new space open the system preferences, change the wallpaper there, close system preference, go to new space….so on so forth. Very un-apple like.

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    1. Andrei Androsoff Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Actually, you don’t have to repeatedly close and re-open the System Preferences window. Just drag the window left or right to the next space. The preview updates dynamically to show the current desktop picture of each space. Very Apple-like.

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  18. Wow. I didn’t care for the article much but I learned a lot from the comments, especially swiping between pages in Chrome and accessing specific spaces using command-space #. Thank you everyone. PS Dashboard as a Space is one of my favorite changes, it’s a much better improvement over the previous implementation. Just goes to show how subjective this all is. The fact that we can all customize Lion so well is saying a lot about it.

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  19. command + option quit will force an app to forget open windows.
    you clean install every 6 months? really? seems like a waste of time. i do it ever 2 years or so.

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  20. No lozenge. I loved the lozenge!

    Also I don’t really see the point of Launchpad…

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  21. (1) you can disable this (2) you can reload from your os partition.. or if that’s lost there’s a network / internet restore (3) agreed (4) I dont seem to have a problem

    personally, I hate “natural direction scrolling” but I just disabled it, and the new “there is no save” thing is quite a shift. I’d rather have control and be able to “save as ” as I please.

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  22. I really hate the new tool bar black & white, neutered, generic icons.

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  23. Wow, i’m glad I haven’t switched to Lion yet. I’m waiting for some updates, if I ever even do it.

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  24. thanks for the tips people ! The ctr-opt-Q is great. Those pesky reappearing windows were bugging me. Also, I have had some stability issues when connect to a data projector that I never had with SL. Got repeated display corruption and freezing and it mangled my file system somewhat. Had to boot off SL install CD and run disk utility. Fortunately it worked.

    Re the “Save As” feature be taken away on all apps… you can achieve the same thing by selecting “file, duplicate”. This creates another copy of the open file in another window or space. You can then “save” the duplicate and it comes up with the save dialog box so you can rename it. But I don’t really follow the rational behind this change. It seems like another step to me.

    Also, can you change the shutdown check box for reopening everything to default to not being checked ? I hate all my apps reopening.

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