After a couple weeks working in OS X Lion, I’m generally underwhelmed and occasionally irritated. A few behavioral changes in particular were so annoying the only positivie thing I could say about them is Apple had the good sense to let me undo them. (I wonder how long that will last.)

Problem: The Dashboard no longer overlays the active workspace. In Snow Leopard, activating the Dashboard caused it to overlay the active workspace. Where ever there was a gap between widgets, the underlying workspace was visible. This was useful for quickly accessing the calendar or calculator widgets while leaving an application window visible for reference. In Lion, the Dashboard is now treated as a workspace. When it appears it replaces the active workspace, leaving the application windows completely obscured.

Solution: Don’t treat Dashboard as a space. Go to System Preferences → Mission Control and uncheck the box labeled “Show Dashboard as a space”.

Problem: The scrolling direction on the touchpad or mouse is unintuitive. Lion introduced the concept of “natural” scrolling. Whereas before, sliding your fingers down the mouse or touchpad would scroll the page down, in Lion, sliding your fingers down scrolls the page up. Apple describes this as “Content tracks finger movement”, which is accurate enough, and in fact, it matches the behavior you see on most touch devices including the iPhone and iPad. The problem is, unlike an iPhone or iPad, when I’m using a touchpad or mouse, I’m not touching the content. Natural scrolling feels natural on an iPhone, but I’ve got fifteen years of experience telling me when I scroll my finger down on a mouse, the indicator on the scrollbar will also scroll down, and therefore the content will slide up. Lion tried to undo that, and I wasn’t grateful.

Solution: Disable natural scrolling. Go to System Preferences → Mouse → Point & Click and uncheck the box labeled “Scroll direction: natural”. You may have to do the same thing for your trackpad by going to System Preferences → Trackpad → Scroll & Zoom (note that for the trackpad it’s the “Scroll & Zoom” tab, not the “Point & Click” tab).

I also had problems with trackpad swipe navigation on Google Chrome. I’ve written about the solution already.