Change’s Appearance To Something More Classic In Lion [OS X Tips]



One of the biggest changes that Apple has implemented in Mac OS X Lion is Mail version 5.0. The new version of Mail has a whole new look and feel to it that I’ve heard a few of you complain about. Well good news this tip will show you how to reverse the new modern look that Mail is sporting these days into something a bit more classical.

  1. If you haven’t already launch Mail on your Mac running OS X Lion.
  2. Open the preferences pane for Mail by selecting Preferences from the Mail menu or by pressing the Command key plus the comma key at the same time.
  3. Select the Viewing tab in the preferences window that opens.
  4. Click Use classic layout.

Mail will now change how its window is configured from the new modern look introduced in Mail 5.0 to one that looks a bit more classical like it did in Mail 4.0.

If you like you can tweak the classical look by selecting several sub-options under the Use classic layout. You can decide whether or not you want to show To/Cc labels, contact photos in the message list, or how many lines of a message you want to show in preview (the default is 2).

If you decide to change these sub-options you’ll have to do so without having the Use classic layout box checked, because if that option is checked these sub-options are grayed out. Personally I think that is a bug in the Mail application, but for now this work around will get you  past that.

  • DrM47145

    I don’t get it… everybody’s so excited about every new major release of Mac OS X with it’s cool new features and redesigned UI; and when it comes out it seems like we can’t adapt well enough and we need to roll it back to it’s predecessor’s look and feel.
    Rolling it back for the sake of being used to the predecessor’s aesthetics is a clear sign of getting old.

  • Gareth Gouldstone

    … or a sign that you have to support an aged relative who gets confused by the new layout!

  • DrM47145

    Fair enough… touché!

  • Scott Bates

    This site is turning into Cult-of-we-HATE-change…

    The fact is Mac OS X is the best OS out there because it has an aggressive “Like it or lump it” approach and if people don’t like the new stuff in Lion they should have stuck with 10.6 or earlier and let sites like this teach me how to enhance the new OS, not break everything thats new and revert back to “the good old days!”

  • DrM47145

    By the way… among all the changes and new stuff in Lion, Mail is certainly among the best changes. So why the hell reverting it??????? Agree with Scott Vada… You guys are turning into Cult-of-we-HATE-change.

  • DavidWMartin

    Oh Scott cut the drama buddy. I’m actually using all the defaults. However, I know some people don’t like them so why not give them options – Apple already has and I’m just pointing them out to all of you.

  • Friends of Mac

    People will complain for the sake of complaining and therefore shouldn’t be early adopters in the first place.


  • DavidWMartin

    Oh ppuuuhhhhlease. It’s about choice. I love all the new stuff. I cannot think of one option that I’ve changed from the Lion defaults – expect maaaaybeeee – ooooh noooo — my screen saver!!!! Arrgggghhhh!!! Point made. :-)

  • DavidWMartin

    You know I really believe that Macs coupled with Mac OS X equals computing that is safe for the retired loved ones in our lives. Both of these made a big impact on my Dad’s life. No more Windows drama. He just gets to enjoy his computer now.

  • SimonBannister

    I just paid $22,87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38,76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62,81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • NeilParkerTX

    With the new Mail 5.0, how do I get the numerical icon to show up in my dashboard when I get new mail?  I see it when I get Apple updates, but not when I get mail from my Gmail.  Any help there? 

  • Edward Chamberlain

    Or alternatively save yourself hours changing each individual app in lion and just use this amazing tool:

  • oakdesk23

    There is a lot that I don’t like in Lion and I’ve bookmarked many of these how-to-go-back articles should I ever decide (or be forced) to upgrade. However, the new mail layout is a huge improvement.