OS X Lion’s Killer Tweak

Mac Os X Lion

[image via Apple.com]

As any Mac enthusiast is aware, Apple released the latest version of its operating system yesterday, OS X Lion. There are several reviews on various tech blogs, including the seminal 19-page review in Ars Technica by John Siracusa. In some ways, it is a much bigger upgrade than its predecessors, Snow Leopard which made no bones about having no new features. Mission Control and Launchpad, two new features are mostly for people buying Macs for the first time. The Mail app has a new look and usability changes. Apart from being touchpad friendly, there are several little tweaks that make it a worthwhile upgrade for a measly $29.

However, for me, the following is one killer tweak that I have struggled with on several ocassions:

With the laptop lid closed and the computer asleep: Plug an external display in, wake the computer, and the external display will be the only working display. If you were to then open your laptop lid, the laptop’s screen would turn on and you have two working monitors.

With the laptop lid open and the computer awake: Plug an external display in and you have two working screens. If you were to then close your laptop lid, the laptop’s screen turns off and the external monitor becomes the only working monitor.

In short, opening and closing your laptop’s lid is like adding or removing a second display, and does not affect putting the computer to sleep.

[Source: OS X Lion — Shawn Blanc; via Digitizd]

I almost always hook my laptop to a 22″ external monitor when I’m at home and I’m lucky enough to be able to get my Mac to office and hook it to a an external monitor for my personal stuff. With Snow Leopard, the behavior was always unpredictable when you closed the lid and turned on the monitor. Sometimes it worked but at other times, you had to open the lid and wake the computer up again. Or plug in a USB device to wake it up once the lid was closed. It didn’t help that I was using a bluetooth wireless keyboard and a trackpad because tapping wouldn’t always wake it up. With this tweak, the behavior is intuitive. If the laptop is open, it can be used as an external monitor and doesn’t just stay open with a dark screen and if you close it, it doesn’t put the computer to sleep.

Apart from this change, Scrolling, strangely called Natural, is reversed so that can mess with your head a little. You can change it back or try it for a while. It can be extremely frustrating and I can see why it is making people mad. I’m trying to stick with it for a while though.

Have you upgraded to Lion yet? What is the biggest change you have seen and what feature do you hate the most?

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  • http://twitter.com/#!/Jayson_Foxx Jayson Foxx

    I too was able to install Lion yesterday and give it a test run for several hours! Overall I’m really digging it. However, I too found the ‘natural’ mouse setting a challenge to say the least. Though I’m going to stick with it for a few days as are some of my peers. If you think about it, it really does make more sense for the scroll function to work this way. My biggest challenge is that I still need to work with a few Windows systems and it doesn’t appear that you can match the ‘Natural’ setting in Windows…at least not on my mouse model. :-(

    • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

      I think you can use different scrolling preferences depending on the device you plug in so you might want to explore that and see if it works for you.

  • http://www.returnaddress.biz/add-a-picture-or-logo-to-your-return-address-label/ Jill @ Return Address

    I know what you mean about the external monitor update they made in Lion. I love the way it currently functions in this latest release. Though I did get use to they way  it functioned under Snow Leopard, so it really through me when I closed my lid late last night expecting my Mac to suspend when my external began to illuminate!! LOL. Progress indeed but will take some getting use too for sure!

  • Anonymous

    My problem is not with the approach of ext monitors; i am only concerned with getting my system out of sleep. I usually connect my mac to ext monitor – when I am ready to go home, i simply plug out the monitor cable and that puts the system to sleep. All I have to do then is open the lid and the laptop becomes the primary display. Now, it expects that the ext display is still hooked and I can’t do anything except a hard reboot. Very annoying :) – what walked perfect in SL is now broken for me :(

    • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

      I’m not sure I understand. It works like you described for me. I too plug out the monitor cable when I’m ready to go home. The Apple icon on the back glows for a while and then the laptop goes to sleep. If you open the lid, it is the primary display. The way you described under Lion is how it used to be (sometimes) in SL for me.

      Try opening the lid (even a crack is fine, I guess) when it is still hooked to the external monitor so that now you have two screens. Then unplug the cable so that the laptop is now the only screen. Then shut down the lid to put it to sleep.

  • Adrian Goerler

    For me, a hidden gem is that you can now resize windows in all four corners (not so in the upper right corner if it’s a full-sizable app). Strange that we had to wait until 10.7 for this ;-).

    • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

      Heh. Something that they had to ‘steal’ from Windows. I guess Steve Jobs finally threw up his hands and said, “Alright, you can resize it from all sides but I still am using one corner.”

  • HPearce

    I dislike that I have to use the scroll gesture just to make the scroll bars appear… this seems a bad idea for those who prefer the scroll bar.

    • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

      Yeah, that change has freaked out a few people. You can change the settings in Sys Pref. > General http://i.imgur.com/pAG6D.png

  • Aaron

    The main issue for me now when running dual monitors is that I like to ONLY use the external and leave the laptop monitor OFF. Leaving the screen closed doesn’t do any good if you are actually working the machine because it gets hot and the fans run. With Snow Leopard it would allow me to shut off the screen (not just dim it) allowing for better cooling. Has anyone found a way to do this?

    • http://twitter.com/cgalletti Cristian Galletti

      Please let me know if you find a solution

    • http://twitter.com/ethanwaldman Ethan Waldman

      I have the same issue. My MBP gets turbo-hot with the lid closed if I’m doing anything related to video or image manipulation. 

      • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

        This might be a fan-related issue. Contact Apple and if it is still under AppleCare, you can get it replaced for free.

  • Mindbomb

    resizing windows from all the edges (not just lower right) yay!!

    maybe soon we’ll get cut for finder…

    • http://www.ipatrix.com Patrix

      Hold down the Alt key when you paste the file (Cmd + Atl + V) after you’ve copied it. It will move instead of copy it.