Tips and shortcuts for Mac OS X Lion users

“Apple’s Lion has roared onto Macs, with one million downloads of the new operating system in the first day it was available. IPhone or iPad users will be familiar with Lion’s nod toward navigating with gestures. But for others, Lion could be uncharted territory,” Katherine Boehret reports for AllThingsD.

“Probably the one feature that will take the most getting used to is Lion’s new way of scrolling. Rather than placing two fingers on the touch pad and moving them down together to navigate down in a Web page, list or document, Lion does the opposite,” Boehret reports. “Think of reading a real piece of paper: As you read down, your eyes would move down and you’d push the paper up. So now, scrolling down happens by putting two fingers on the touch pad and moving up. Scrolling up works by moving two fingers down the touch pad. The scroll bar disappears when you aren’t scrolling.”

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Boehret reports, “If you’re like me, you loved using Snow Leopard’s Exposé, which took a four-finger downward swipe to expose all running apps. Lion has a more robust way of viewing all the things on a Mac, called Mission Control. A feature called App Exposé uses a three-finger downward swipe to expose all windows running in an app. This isn’t on by default, so go to System Preferences, Trackpad, select the More Gesture section (top right) and check the box for App Exposé.”

More OS X Lion tipis and shortcuts in the full article here.


  1. Uhm, I use the F3 hotkey to invoke Exposé. I don’t bother with all this finger gesturing unless it’s unavoidable. Besides Exposé is almost useless to me. I use Spaces and keep things organised so there’s very little need for Exposé for me as far as I’m concerned.

  2. I keep reading that the scrollbar disappears when your not scrolling. This is not true. I’ve checked in the new versions of Safari, iPhone, iTunes, and mail. the scrollbar is always visible except as always when there is nowhere to scroll to.

    It is true in iOS but not in Lion.

    1. Check your System Preferences:General. There’s an option for the scroll bars, one of which is Always. Should be set to “Automatically based on input device”, but maybe your installer grabbed the Always from a setting you had before.

  3. No love for hot corners? I have set it up to get Mission Control with the bottom left corner, and all foreground Application windows with the top left. Awesome, in particular with a (Magic) mouse, but it also works well with trackpads.

    And yes, I NEED Exposé. One of my main apps for work is a data analysis app (Igor Pro). It typically has a huge amount of windows open. I use Exposé (all application windows) and hot corner to quickly switch between windows. Can’t imagine working anyway else anymore.

    When I are forced to work with Windows, I constantly have to stop the urge of pushing the mouse to a corner to switch windows/apps.

  4. I like the feature where you hold an alphanumeric number down it no longer repeats. It now pops up all the symbols that could be related to the letter you are holding (much like iOS)

  5. After 25 years in the PC world, I just bought an iMac on July 3 and recently installed Lion. So I am new to Mac. After installing Lion I am seeing frequent lockups while running Firefox that require hard resets. My kids are also not too thrilled about Lion due to the crashes and asked if we could go back to Snow Leopard. Am I wrong by going to Lion?

    1. Wait…. lockups??? you mean you are locking up the OS using firefox?
      Or is firefox just stalling (not that hard to do), if so force quit the stalled firefox (by selecting “Force Quit” from the apple menu and selecting firefox from the list) and start using Safari it is a much better browser anyhow (though it lacks the gingerbread like skins and themes it is faster & more stable.)

      The first case (stalling the OS) is troubling, it takes a low level device driver or hardware error to stall OS X (it is unix). I would suggest you take you new mac down to the closest Apple store and show them the problem it is likely a hardware fault. If you are not near a store call apple service (800 apple care) and report it to them, they can then take the necessary action to get your Mac repaired.

      1. The lockups I saw were that the pointer can move around but nothing else worked. There wasn’t an apple menu, and none of the keyboard shortcuts worked. The whole computer froze except for the pointer.

        The first two weeks using SL there were no issues so hardware is not a problem. I will see if there is an update to Firefox to try as recommended below, or try Safari.

        For the short time I had with either OSes, I like SL better. But I don’t like going backward if Lion is the future.

        1. Did you try what ZooAchtiv recommended?, Seems odd that he posted three hours before your reply and you didn’t even look to see if it was indeed a firefox screw up? and that you spent time replying to mine, damed odd….
          Just sayin’…

          1. Sorry. I was still at work when I replied earlier, and the Mac was at home. So I could not check on the Firefox version.

            The Firefox version is 5.0.1, and there is a “Firefox is up to date”. I believe it is the latest for the Mac.

            1. Ok then, you seem to have a serious issue, just because it didn’t show up in SnowLeopard doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

              Did a quick grep of the firefox forums and there was some chatter about FF 5.0 being unstable under lion (5.0.1 reportedly fixes that). However that was only the app freezing there is no talk of the OS freezing, I think you have an issue and would recommend you take it to the local genius bar (it is free you know)
              Next time it freezes try command tab (to jump between apps) see if you jump off FF if you can get the mouse events working again (FF does some really spooky event management because of it’s “universal” build)
              And in the mean time, I was serious, other than the (tacky?) themes, skins & “personas”, FF has little or nothing -feature wise- on safari, while safari leads in many areas (speed stability javascript, RSS management) Try safari.

            2. Thanks Tess. for the suggestions. I will try Safari again to see if there are issues. FF seemed faster in Snow Leopard, and I use it on my PCs at home and work. But I am not attached to it at all.

    2. It is highly unlikely that Lion is crashing. Something else may cause it, such as hardware. Firefox issues are Firefox issues. While I’ve run into some very small glitches here and there (mainly applications, not the OS), Lion is solid. No doubt about it. I’d recommend seeing what your local Apple Store says. They can open Console and such and see what is actually happening.

  6. Re Spaces reordering. This annoyed me till I discovered there’s a preference to prevent it. Now if only the new spaces didn’t put all desktops in a lIne. A 2d array is much more efficient — with a 2 x 2 layout you can switch from any desktop to any other with one key stroke (ctl arrow) but with Lion it can take 1, 2 or 3. Why Apple, why?


  7. Setting aside the troll warz:

    The best way to install ANY new OS is to:

    1) Backup your current boot volume

    2) Low level reformat the hard drive (to kill off accumulated bad sectors)

    3) A clean install of the OS. Never install OVER a previous OS.

    4) Use Apple’s provided Migration Assistant to move over all your previous files from your backup.

    5) After the installation perform both a system repair and disk permissions repair. There are frequently errors left behind after an installation.

    6) Enjoy.

    1. @Derek,

      That’s overkill.

      Also, you need at least *two* backups of your boot volume. When you reformat your hard drive, you’ll have everything on one disk.

      “Never install OVER a previous OS.”

      I’ve been doing it for years on numerous systems.

      My advice is to:
      1) Always have at least 1 back up, and ideally more.
      2) Check the versions of apps you have, make sure they’re compatible and for known issues, upgrade if needed. Test upgrade of apps before upgrading system.
      3) Run Disk First Aid or better yet, run Onyx.
      4) Do the standard upgrade.
      5) Verify all apps are running.

      1. @ MrEdofCourse sez: “That’s overkill.”

        I don’t care. It remains the best practice procedure. Shortcut for yourself but please don’t advise others to do so.

        “you need at least *two* backups of your boot volume”

        That is an EXCELLENT idea. By definition, a ‘backup’ means one local copy and one off-site copy in ALL cases.

        “I’ve been [installing over a previous OS] for years on numerous systems.”

        That is a BAD practice. I’m glad you had luck with it. But it was just luck. Don’t let it bite you.

        “2) Check the versions of apps you have…”

        That’s EXCELLENT advice.

        “3) Run Disk First Aid or better yet, run Onyx.”

        What OS are YOU running?! There hasn’t been any ‘Disk First Aid’ since Mac OS 9! You mean Disk Utility. And Onyx does nothing special. It’s the same fsck process run by Disk Utility.

  8. For those having Lion ‘lockups’, this article may explain the problem:

    Some Lion users plagued by black-screen bug @ MacFixIt

    This particular bug is related to the OS’s handling of dual-GPU Nvidia Mac systems. Rumor has it that Apple already has the 10.7.1 ready for distribution. It is not known if this bug was addressed. 10.7.2 beta was distributed to testers and developers this past weekend.

    The Firefox font bug was ‘supposed’ to have been cured in FireFox v5.0.1. Be sure you have updated. (Firefox version 6.0 beta 1 is currently available, but is not related to this bug).

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