A Tale of Two Kitties (Blending the lines between Snow Leopard and Lion)

Apple now has two major OSes in the mix: Snow Leopard, the venerable Mac OS X release that was lean, mean, and yet refined. Best of all, it maintained the compatibility of older legacy software. In short, Snow Leopard “just worked.” Then came Lion, the “piece de resistance” in Apple’s mind. Lion brought the polish and finesse of iOS to the Mac and my oh my was it pretty. As a computer technician, technology consultant, and power user, I found myself torn for the first time since adopting Mac just a few short years back. I loved the UI changes made in Lion, from the new progress bars to the invisible scroll bars, to the squared off buttons. Mission Control was a welcome update to Expose & Spaces, full-screen apps allowed me to maximize the real estate on my MacBook Pro, and Versions was a great and innovative way to track our changes system-wide. Lions form was a welcome improvement to that of Snow Leopard (except Finder, I want coloured icons!). There was a catch this time around. I no longer had legacy support (Rosetta) which became a problem for me at my workplace where the printer driver installation program was ancient. Sure, I could have used generic printer drivers or even found a way to manually install them (which I did while writing this article) but the issue was still there. What do I do when I encounter legacy software that I HAVE to use? There really wasn’t an answer that I was aware of since Apple made the unfortunate assumption that everyone would just jump on board with the new band wagon. So I was left loving the function of Snow Leopard but the form of Lion. Thankfully, there are others like me who have figured out ways to bring much of the form of Lion to Snow Leopard. This article explains what I’ve done this far to “Lionize” my SL install and why I did it.

  1. Install Scroll Reverser
    Personally, I prefer the inverted scrolling. After using a touchscreen smartphone, it really does feel more natural. If you aren’t used to it, give it at least 3 days. Most people adapt in just a few days.
  2. Change the progress bars and buttons to a more Lion-like interface.
    First you need to download and install ThemePark. After that, download this theme and unzip it. Start ThemePark and then drag the theme file onto the ThemePark dock icon. A new theme box will pop up. Simply click “Apply Theme,” authenticate, and you’re done. You may have to restart to see some of the changes.
  3. User BetterTouchTool to give you more touchpad gestures.
    If you like the multi-touch gestures in Lion then this little app is a must! It gives you amazing control over what you can do with 1-5 fingers. In fact, you have more options than even in Lion. The catch? It’s still in beta and doesn’t always work as expected. BetterTouchTool does have a scroll reversing option but I’ve found Scroll Reverser to do a better job. Could be just preference though.
  4. Create multiple spaces and assign specific apps to each.
    To make this as Lion-like as possible, create a single row of Spaces. In Lion, you’ll often have three spaces for iCal, Mail, and Safari. You are limited to 4 horizontal spaces so you’ll have to decide which apps you want in your 3 dedicated spaces and leave the rest of your apps on your main space.

It’s a short list at this point in time but I will update it as I try more, do more and receive suggestions. Enjoy your form and function!

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