Some OS X Lion Issues & How To Fix Them

Apple’s latest big cat is a great deal for Mac owners, introducing some much needed changes, exciting features and increased eye candy too. However, like any operating system, OS X Lion has its quirks and there’s a few design choices which may irk longtime Mac OS users. Read on below for a selection of these and how to fix (or revert) them.

No Boot DVD

Apple have decided upon download-only distribution for OS X Lion, but luckily for those of us who need to upgrade multiple Mac’s on a slow network, it’s still possible to make a boot DVD. There’s a wealth of guides on how to do this all around the web – notably a great walkthrough from our own Katie Gatto here, but the basic process goes like this:

Following a complete back up of your Snow Leopard system, head over to the Mac App Store and purchase Lion but before installing, navigate to your Mac’s Applications folder and right-click on Lion’s installer.


Select “Show Package Contents” and then open the folder titled “Shared Support”. Within this folder you’ll then find an image file titled “InstallESD.dmg” – this is the Lion disc image, so copy it onto your Desktop. Next up you need to fire up Disk Utility, click on the “Burn” button and when prompted select the “InstallESD.dmg” from your Desktop and burn the DVD.

One problem that many people have run into is that in their haste to upgrade, they’ve missed the boat and have already installed Lion, thus losing their chance of making a boot DVD. However, it is still possible to make a boot DVD even if Lion is already installed. Return to the Mac App Store and option-click on “Purchases” then option-click again on “Lion” and once again on “Install”, you should now be able to re-download Lion and burn the DVD, as outlined above.

iCal & Address Book Graphics

The iOS influence in Lion has brought some great changes, such as the new and beautiful Mail app, but if like me you find Lion’s new iCal and Address Book look jarring, the folks at MacNix have come up with a great way of changing them back to something more in-keeping with Apple’s usual minimalist design principles; you may not be able to change a Leopard’s spots but you can certainly change a Lion’s skin!


MacNix have helpfully provided a standard installer so it’s a very simple process to get iCal looking as the screenshot above. Be sure to first copy the iCal and Address book application files somewhere so you can always go back if necessary.

Click here for the link and full instructions – remember to consider donating if you find them useful.

Dumbing Down Of Finder


Finder hasn’t escaped Apple’s system-wide makeover either and though it’s looking pretty sharp, many power users don’t appreciate being locked out of their Library, or unable to see how much hard drive space remains as default. Getting back Library access is achievable via a brief use of the command-line, just launch Terminal and copy and paste the following inside, then press return:

Showing how much hard drive space is left is even easier. Just open a new Finder window and go to “View -> Show Status Bar

Trackpad Gestures


One of Apple’s most contentious changes in OS X Lion is the complete overhaul of trackpad input. As this guide shows, most changes in Lion are easily reverted back to their former Snow Leopard state with a click of an option or a quick terminal command. But far as multitouch is concerned however, there’s no simple fix. One of the areas which has seen particularly strong opposition is Apple’s changes to trackpad scrolling, turning it upside-down and naming it ‘Natural Scrolling’. I personally found myself adjusting to this very quickly but if you want to change it, here’s how:

To revert the trackpad scrolling back to the way it has always been, just go into System Preferences -> Trackpad -> Scroll & Zoom -> Scroll Direction: Natural – and untick the box.

Besides tweaking the options within the Trackpad preferences, Better Touch Tool is an option, though it hasn’t been fully updated for Lion yet so isn’t a full solution.

App Compatibility

Developers seem to have really made a great effort to get their apps ready for Lion and, as far as OS upgrades go, the compatibility has been good overall. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any issues so the useful OS X Lion compatibility table that Roaring Apps have put together will enable you to look before you leap.

Bring Back Scrollbars


I prefer Lion’s new scrollbar-less browsing but it’s undoubtedly a change and some people will think it’s not one for the better. If you fall into the latter camp, just navigate to System Preferences -> General and change the “Show Scroll Bars” option to “Always”.

Organise Mission Control

As a longtime user of Spaces, I hated the way that mission control would seem to decide which Desktop to put my apps in seemingly at random. To go back to the old way of having a specific Desktop on a per-app basis, just go to System Preferences -> Mission Control and untick the option which reads “Automatically rearrange spaces based on most recent use”. You can then construct a more predictable method of arranging your Desktops.

Anything Else?

Have you found anything else which bothers you in Lion? Please let us know in the comments if you’ve got any tips of your own for making it run just the way you like it.

Adam Williams

Adam Williams is a journalist from North Wales, regularly covering music and technology for websites such as Make Tech Easier, Mac.Appstorm, iPad.Appstorm and Fluid Radio, in addition to writing weekly content for Apple Magazine. Follow him or contact him on twitter here


  1. I found that the old ‘Recent Items’ equivalent in Finder is now replaced by using ‘All My Files’ with a filter to sort by Date Last Updated.  Great idea, but it currently doesn’t work properly.  If I update a file, save it, then from Mail insert an attachment, and choose ‘All My Files’, the ‘Today’ section has files which I updated yesterday, and none that I updated today.  This may be a Spotlight delayed indexing issue, but nevertheless it is not very usable.  Comments anyone?

  2. in the screenshot above: 
    I do not have that image. instead I have two columns of script and tick boxes saying such things as tracking speed and double click speed. I guess that is because I reversed the Lion way of scrolling but now I want to go back and give it a go but I cant as I cant access the screenshot you sohwed above. Can you advise?

    1. Hmm… I assume you’re on a compatible MacBook which supports the scrolling? I’m unable to replicate any issues with the trackpad preferences, so let me just try and talk you through getting to the option normally. 

      Fire up System Preferences then navigate to the Trackpad pane and click on it. Now make sure your on the middle column, where it says ‘Scroll & Zoom’ then you should see the ‘Scrolling Direction: Natural’ option.

      If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll talk you through using the Grab application in your Mac’s Utilities folder to show me what you’re getting so we can sort it out. 

  3. Superdrive is not reading DVD’s.  Definitely an issue with Lion 10.7….  The dvd works fine if I view it from Parallels with Windows 7 on the same machine.  

    While in Lion, the drive tries to read it but ends up ejecting it.  Tried several different DVD’s all with the same result.

    1. I’ve seen a handful of reports of this online but no solutions. Try fixing permissions and if it’s possible I would suggest a re-install of Lion.  

  4. I use True Crypt on my MAC and had a few issues getting it to open.  Now, I just realized that my address book appears to have been wiped clean.  Any ideas?

    1. Apologies, I only just caught this message now. Unless you can restore from a backup I have no suggestions other than to get in contact with the True Crypt developers. 

      1. Fortunately, my IT guy discovered that the address book was buried in a couple of extra “layers” in TC.  All is working now…

  5. The new narrower scroll bars are great for my MacBookPro, but suck on my 23″ monitor.  Is there any way to make them wider?

    1. I’ve been looking into this for a couple of days and I can’t find a reasonable workaround without changing your entire screen resolution, sorry!

  6. The triple-finger back/forth toggling between window pages and the four-finger application toggling were two of the most ingenious features the trackpad allowed. It seems they’ve been nixed in Lion OS X (unless I missed it under System Preferences’s trackpad section somewhere)–is there no way to retrieve these two options? Does anyone know?

    1. Unfortunately there’s currently no way of bringing back those exact Snow Leopard gestures that I’m aware of, which is a shame because they were excellent. I wouldn’t be surprised if an app comes out soon though because it’s definitely a feature people want. 

      However, if you go into System Preferences > Trackpad > More Gestures > and click the box next to ‘Swipe Between Full Screen Apps’ that should bring back somewhat comparable desktop switching. 

      If that’s not showing up then it probably means it’s not supported on your Mac I’m afraid. 

    2. Nevermind! The BetterTouchTool ( Mr. Williams directed us has features that address these two issues almost entirely. It took a minute for me to get it running is all and I kind of panicked. Cheers.

  7. And THANK YOU for posting all this, Mr. Williams. It’s mindful of our Apple love, but still manages to proactively address many perceived changeover (superficial and otherwise :) issues. 

  8. Ever since I’ve downloaded Lion, I have two programs that automatically open at login even though that option is not checkmarked.  That option (open at login) does not seem to turn it off.

    1. Did you figure out how to turn this off? My iCal and WordforMac open on log-in, and I can’t get them to stop.

      1. Just a thought – the checkbox is to ‘hide’ the application on login, not to prevent its launch. To prevent an app launching, click on the application and then hit the minus button to remove it from the list. 

        1. I also have this issue .. the applications that are automatically launching are not in the launch at startup window. It seems that the apps that are launching are the most recently used apps.
          this is very annoying as it takes forever to start up. how do we prevent this?

    2. actually i found the reason .. its simple .. when you shut down, there is a checkbox .. its new .. it asks you if you want to startup with the same applications .. its defaulted to do that .. i wish we could default it to not do that .. for now each time you shut down… check that darn box.

  9. I set up a couple gestures so that I can make the screen go to sleep (down left corner) or show the desktop (upper right corner, terrible spot btw), but i upgraded to lion and i can’t find how to change those or remove them. any help?

    1. Hi Jeremy, no problem.

      Go to System Preferences > Mission Control > Hot Corners (it’s located in the bottom left of the mission control pane)

      From there you can change or remove them at will.

  10. Two issues: when I boot up desktop, it whirs as if it’s booting up from a disk, even though it’s not. .. not serious, just annoying.
    Randomly, when I boot up both laptop and desktop (new computers with LION), the icons have either disappeared or moved over to the right side of the screen.  Very annoying!  Have talked to the tech lads 3 times – always nice, always with ideas and tricks to try, never able to correct either issue.

    1. Not too sure about the whirring, though I remember having a bug way back in OS X Leopard on an old Mac which was very similar. As for the icons, take a look at these two links:

  11. I typically tend to go with the flow but access the library has gotten to be a hassle. I tried the recommended Terminal command and got the reply “Permission denied”. I’m used to this problem in Lion but I have no idea where to go to correct this. Any ideas?

    1. only just saw this, I’d try entering ‘sudo’ before the command. You’ll probably have to input your password but that should do the trick. Just make sure you’re backed up first, just in case. 

  12. I can’t click and drag on my desktop.
    No add on utilities for display or mouse management and I’m using a mini (latest model and firmware), not a laptop.
    Repaired disk permissions but still can’t click on a desktop icon.

    1. I’m afraid I can’t seem to find a solution for this problem but you’re definitely not alone. I suggest that if you haven’t already, you take a look at this apple support thread:

  13. How can I change the “zoom” feature in Lion back to how it was in Snow Leopard?  The zoom feature in Snow Leopard trackpad rescales the page/resizes it, where Lion just zooms mainly where the cursor is.  Any ideas how to change this back???  It’s driving my crazy!!!

    1. Did you ever find a solution to the zoom feature and resize issue. I was told to get lion and I miss that feature! please help

  14. I have found that ever since I added Lion to my computer it has slowed down tremendously.  It is slow at start up – and frequently goes to this bar showing progress as it slowly (incredibly slowly) turns on for me to log in.  Also, when I go to Safari it can be painfully slow.  I get the spinning wheel of death, which I never did before lion.  I hate this program and want to throw my computer through the window at times. Whereas before Lion it was smooth sailing and nothing but a joy to be on my Mac.  HELP!  

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Did you do a clean install of Lion?

      Search YouTube for – lion clean install usb

      I did a clean install on a 2009 mac mini with 2.26 processor and 4GB memory and it seems about the same speed, maybe a little faster, Safari launches with one bounce compared to three under Snow Leopard.

      hope this helps

    2. hi Debbie, as Garry says below, I’d recommend a clean install of Lion and at least 4GB of RAM if at all possible. 

  15. Why do multiple pictures and other files open when I click on one and only since I updated to lion?

    1. I believe that’ll be because Lion remembers all your the other files you have opened previously in Preview. So, to get rid of them, close each one individually. 

  16. I have am new to the Mac world I a have a MacBook Pro running OS Lion I’ve had it about 6 weeks.  I am having trouble with the Address Book.   All my contacts show in the list on the left side but as I click on each one the page on the right shows the information for the first address in the list.   Any ideas on how to fix this.

  17. Hi, I installed Lion yesterday, it runs beautifully. BUT: I can’t see inside most of my folders via the Finder (only if I go through Open through various applications). Any ideas?

    1. Let me know if you ever get an answer- I have all my programs opening – and I cannot read pdfs from the internet- anyone who knows who to fix- please let me know!

  18. As usual, Apple takes one step back for every ten forward. I need to revert a number of apps: TextEdit (straightforward save-as option), DVD Player (return of eject button in player, no video hiccup when switching view modes), Mail (one click searches by content, etc without having to scroll through a darned laundry list), Screen capture (to select frames from a DVD via keystroke) etc.

    How do we revert to earlier apps?

  19. I appreciate the inputs as to how to correct the natural scrolling of the mouse. In Address Book I have lost all my groups. The original contacts are present, but all the smart groups are gone. I utilize time Machine as a backup,  but because Lion changed the address book you can no longer open the Address book in the previous version. Any suggestions on how to recover smart groups in the address Book

  20. I can no longer double click to open files on my desktop I have to highlight the file go to the menu bar and click open. This is time consuming and VERY FRUSTRATING…HELP!!!!!

  21. I can not find any of my documents when trying to search for them under the spotlight on my finder? I will type in the saved document title word for word and still the spotlight can not find my file? Any suggestions on how to fix this?

    1. Laura, In System Preferences/Spotlight, are Search Results set to show Documents? and in Privacy Settings, you don’t have anything there blocking it?

  22. When my IMac goes to sleep, my hard drive continues to Whirr even though I have it set to shut off in 15″ as well as the sleep time.  After that, I actually have to shut my Mac down manually to reboot???  Won’t wake back up.

    1. In Energy Saver, have you tried unchecking Always Put Computer to Sleep when Possible?  You can also try staggering the Shut Off to 5 Minutes after Sleep. It sounds like it’s unable to properly Shut Down because the System Processes are held up in the Sleep Stage.

  23. Hi, I created a USB of the latest lion release and decided to do a lean install on my mac mini and followed the instructions re starting up with USB, however, the screen resolution changed and now I cannot see or find the Continue button to progress the installation. This is the first time I’ve had this problem with lion. Can you advise please.

    1. If you haven’t got that going yet, have you tried just hitting Enter or Tab then Enter sequentially, until you hit something? Just a shot, if in a pinch. Or Shift-Command-Q for a log out, again, just a shot.

  24. Having problems copying a DVD to my laptop. I can’t recall exactly how I used to do it, but was never a problem. During the process of trying different methods, (and trying to avoid iTunes), I noticed there’s no Burn folder in Lion OS X! When trying to Create New Image in Disk Utility from the DVD icon on Desktop, the DVD turns invisible. I then took a look at the Permissions on Desktop. There was only my username(me)-Read&Write, 
    Everyone-Read only. I added Admin-Read&Write, also (my standard account) name-Read only, since the Permission Repair (command+R startup option) only does the Home Folder. In my Mac HD Permissions, there is System-Read&Write,Admin-Read only,Everyone-Read only. Should my admin name be in there, or Admin-Read&Write?  I’m listed as staff in account settings and don’t see an option to add it. I’ve done total reinstalls from scratch and Lost, Thanks in advance for any help.

  25. I installed ntfs 3G in my mac osx lion to use ntfs external drives in lion… But if i remove d hard disk without ejecting it properly it is not opening again in lion and it is not asking to force eject if i connect the hard disk again or showing any error msgs… only after i go to windows and eject it properly then only mac osx lion is reading the external hard drive properly… can some one help me by telling something to solve this prob…

  26. Upgraded my MacBook Pro 17″ 8Gb RAM to Lion – not a clean install – and have two REALLY annoying issues (many others I have sorted already) that defy solution:  I cannot shutdown other than by manual means (holding power button) AND it seems almost every time I click a link somewhere I get a menu instead of a straight response. Same with the Dock – clicking the icon to swap to that already running program gives me a menu instead of my last open window. If I want a menu I will right click, as in: I will make that decision! Any advice gratefully recieved

  27. Hello!
    First time I’ve written, but I am unable to open files that are on my desktop. I click them and nothing happens. For goodness’ sake this is mad! What can I do?  Jill

  28. They got rid of zoom on DVD player!  Overall unimpressed with Lion, I gained nothing and lost a lot.

  29. hey every time that i create a new folder on my desktop, it just disappears? the only way that i can find that file again is in the finder. any help?

  30. Upgraded to Lion. ical kept starting up on launch but got that sorted. Also error message about ‘Preview can’t be opened because or an error’. I opened the details as follows:-

    Process: Preview [150]
    Path: /Applications/Photography/
    Version: 5.0.3 (504.1)
    Build Info: Preview-5040100~1
    Code Type: X86-64 (Native)
    Parent Process: launchd [109]

    Date/Time: 2012-06-26 19:06:09.187 +0300
    OS Version: Mac OS X 10.7.4 (11E53)
    Report Version: 9

    Interval Since Last Report: 14689 sec
    Crashes Since Last Report: 1
    Per-App Crashes Since Last Report: 1
    Anonymous UUID: 0ED3FC74-0244-43C4-9B2D-2FDA920A2DE1

    Crashed Thread: 0

    Exception Type: EXC_BREAKPOINT (SIGTRAP)
    Exception Codes: 0x0000000000000002, 0x0000000000000000

    Application Specific Information:
    dyld: launch, loading dependent libraries

    Dyld Error Message:
    Library not loaded: /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/MeshKit.framework/Versions/A/MeshKit
    Referenced from: /Applications/Photography/
    Reason: image not found

    I’m really not very technical so any help would be great. I don’t even know if I have to have Preview or if I could just delete it?

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