Nine Things You Should Do After Installing OS X Lion

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Lion is here — and as MG summed up in just 3,000 words, it’s great.

No operating system is perfect, though. At least, not for everyone, and especially not right out of the (non-existent) box. Looking to make your Lion experience that much better, we’ve bundled together a bevy of tips and tricks that you really ought to have ready on your first trip into the new OS.

Now, something to keep in mind: these tips aren’t one-size-fits-all. Read through the list and pick out the ones that sound good, and be sure to drop a comment if you’ve got a tip of your own.

Leave It Alone For A Few Hours:



After Lion launched yesterday morning, reports started pouring in that folks who made the jump from Snow Leopard to Lion were seeing terribly sluggish performance. Then, like magic, the sluggishness disappeared.

Here’s why: Lion makes a good number of changes to the way the Spotlight search works. These changes seem to require a reindexing of your hard drive’s contents . The problem? Apple starts this reindexing immediately after Lion boots up for the first time, and it causes systems (even relatively new ones) to run like hot garbage until it’s done. Give Spotlight a few hours after install is complete to work everything out, and you’ll have a much better first impression.

Check Out PDF Signing In Preview:

Three years ago, I threw my printer in the trash. I got tired of stupid ink, and stupid drivers, and that stupid grey box taking up space on my desk. I haven’t missed it since.

Okay, fine. There’s one time I always miss it: whenever I need to print and sign a contract. Thanks to a fancy (but somewhat hidden) new feature in Lion’s Preview app, I’ll never miss my printer again.

Open up a PDF in Preview. Click the annotations button (), then click the signature button (), then hit “Create Signature from Built-in iSight”. Scribe your signature onto a white piece of paper, hold it up to your iSight, and bam: you’ve got a stampable version of your signature sitting in Preview. Mr. Printer, meet Mr. Trash Can.

Reverse Mouse/Touchpad Scrolling:



With Lion, Apple made a fairly controversial change regarding scrolling up/down on touchpads and mice: they reversed it. Any behavior that once scrolled you up now scrolls you down, while scrolling what-was-down now takes you up the page. The idea is that you’re now moving the content, rather than the scroll bar. Mouse-scroll down, page content moves down (while the scroll bar scrolls up).

Some love it. Some hate it. Gruber says to give it a week. I say screw it — do whatever feels best to your brain. I personally think it makes sense on a trackpad, but doesn’t feel right on a mouse — unfortunately, one setting controls the direction of both. As I use a mouse more than 90% of the time, I’ve reversed the setting.

You can find the checkbox to set the scroll direction to what you’re used to under System Preferences > Trackpad > Scroll and Zoom. Look for the “Scroll Direction: natural” option.

Re-enable Dot Indicators Under Running Apps:

This one’s a weird one, as it depends on whether you upgraded to Lion or bought a new system running Lion out of the box.

If you upgraded, your running apps will have the glowing dot indicators you’re used to seeing in the dock. If you’re on a new Lion system, they won’t. With Apple trying to move to a persistent state/instant start app design model, these running indicators may eventually be unnecessary. For now, though, with the vast majority of apps still being designed for Snow Leopard and earlier, the lack of dots is just really damned confusing.

You can re-enable the dots under System Preferences > Dock > Show indicator lights for open applications

Software update:

Lion is new, but there’s still a good chunk of stuff that needs to be updated right out of the gate. You’ll want to update iTunes, iLife, and iWork, for example, to get all the fancy new fullscreen features out of them. Just run the Software Update app found under the Apple logo in the upper left of the screen.

Disable Dashboard In Mission Control:

Mission Control (Apple’s new all-encompassing view of everything running on your system) is awesome. So much so, in fact, that “Use Mission Control” was going to be one of the tips here, but I pulled it assuming that it’s a core enough feature that everyone will be using it anyway. Learn the gestures, and learn the keyboard hotkeys.

There’s one thing that’s a bit weird about Mission Control, though: for one reason or another, it pulls your widget dashboard in as if it’s a separate Desktop/Space, which get’s reaaaally annoying if you’re using the gestures/hotkeys to quickly switch from view to view. Who uses the dashboard so much that the standard key (F12) isn’t enough?

You can keep dashboard from appearing in Mission Control by toggling the option found under System Preferences > Mission Control > Show Dashboard As Space.

Give Filevault Another Chance:

Apple’s real-time disk encryption tool, Filevault, used to suck. A lot. If one tiny little bit in your Filevault image got flipped, the entire thing would explode in your face. Bam! Data gone! It was enough for many to swear off Filevault entirely, myself included.

Well, it’s time to give Filevault another shot. Apple has completely rebuilt it — so much so, in fact, that the only thing the new version really shares with its predecessor is its name. The new full-disk-encryption based setup is super fast, super secure, and has essentially no impact on your system performance. Oh, and it won’t randomly eat all your data.

Learn the new multi-touch gestures:


Apple teaches you how to two-finger scroll the first time you boot up Lion, but myriad other gestures go unmentioned. Some of the best multi-touch gestures:

  • Swipe between pages: Scroll left or right with two fingers
  • Swipe between full-screen apps/desktops: Swipe left or right with three fingers
  • Access Mission Control: Swipe up with three fingers
  • Show Launchpad (All of your installed apps in an iOS-esque view): Pinch with thumb and three fingers
  • Show desktop: Spread with thumb and three fingers

Disable Autocorrect:

Oh, Apple. Haven’t you learned anything from auto-correct on the iPhone?

The optional autocorrect in OS X doesn’t seem to be nearly as sensitive (or hilarious) as its iOS equivalent, but it still misfires from time-to-time. You’re a big boy (or girl) on a big boy (or girl) keyboard. You can type fine. Unless you’re constantly swapping “teh” for “the”, you can turn off autocorrect under System Preferences > Language & Text > Text > Correct spelling automatically.

Got any tips you think others should see? Drop’em in the comments.