By Christopher Breen
Reader David Mitchell delves into the personal with this question about Lion. He writes:
I’m planning to buy Lion and was curious about what pros like you do when you install a new operating system like this.
Every Mac user–“pro” or otherwise–is different and we all develop certain work habits. I’ve had Lion for awhile thanks to pungling up the $99 necessary to become a developer and have installed it on a couple of different Macs. These are the things I generally do in the first several minutes:
• Run Software Update. Apple often releases patches and updates with new OS versions. To make sure my OS and Apple applications are as up-to-date as possible, I run Software Update immediately (available from the Apple menu).
• Kill the translucent menu bar. I’ve never grown fond of the thing. To restore the menu bar to its time-honored off-white hue, open the Desktop & Screen Saver system preference, select the Desktop tab, and disable the Translucent Menu Bar option.
• Restore scrolling. Much as I love my iOS devices, I’m not ready to change my scrolling habits to Lion’s “natural” scheme where scrolling down makes the contents of a window also move down. Over 20 years of doing it the other way will make this a hard habit to break. To change the way this is done, go to your Trackpad system preference, select the Scroll & Zoom tab, and disable the Scroll Direction: Natural option.
• Make Dock folders useful. Another Apple design decision that I never cottoned to is the way folders (stacks) are displayed in the Dock. To me it makes no sense to take a pile of documents and either fan them out or expose them on a grid. I generally have a lot of files in these folders and these two Apple-preferred options make it hard for me to find what I’m after. Instead, I Control- (right) click on these stacks and ask them to be displayed as folders in List view.
• Hide the Dock. I rely on utilities such as DragThing and LaunchBar to navigate to my files so I rarely need to see the Dock. I select Dock from the Apple menu and choose Turn Hiding On.
• Search for System files. Under Lion, the Finder’s Search window still won’t search for files in the System folder and Library folders by default. I often muck around in these folders and want Search to as well. To make that happen I press Command-F in the Finder to bring up a Search window. From the Kind pop-up menu near the top of the window I select Other. In the sheet that appears I enter System in the Search field. I then tick the In Menu check box next to the System Files entry that appears in this window so that I have the option to easily search for files that appear in System and Library folders.
• Tweak the sidebar. Apple’s collection of sidebar items–Applications, Desktop, and Documents, for example–are a start, but they’re hardly the end- and be-all of sidebar shortcuts. I always drag my user folder and the Drop Box folder within the Public folder into the sidebar.
• Change the Desktop background. Apple makes some lovely Desktop backgrounds but I quickly tire of the default. If you do too, just Control- (right) click on the Desktop and choose Change Desktop Background. In the window that appears you can choose from a variety of new background pictures.
But that’s just me. You’re a smart and experienced bunch. What settings do you tweak within the first five minutes of installing a new OS?