How to bring back the Snow Leopard look to Lion’s Mail

17 August, 2011 - Killian Bell
OS X Lion Mail

I’m a huge fan of the new-look Mail application that comes with OS X Lion, but just like many of Lion’s new features, I know some people hate it. For those of you who just can’t get used to the change in appearance, here’s a handy how-to guide on making the latest Mail application look more like the old Snow Leopard version.

Step 1

Firstly, let’s bring back your sidebar so that you can view your mailboxes and folders. To do this, simply select the button labelled ‘Show’ on the top left-hand corner of the Mail application.

Step 2

Now let’s eliminate the new three-pane view. Open up the Mail application and enter the Preferences from the File menu, then select the ‘Viewing’ tab. Click on the first checkbox to switch to the classic Mail layout. You’ll instantly notice a huge difference and Mail should begin to resemble the application you once loved again. You’re nearly there!

Step 3

Now we can introduce text to your toolbar for those who can never remember the function of each button. To do this, simply right-click on the toolbar and select what you’d like to see: you have the option icons and text, icons only, text only, or you can choose to hide the toolbar completely. Select ‘Icon and Text’ for the old Snow Leopard look.

And that’s it. Your Mail application should now resemble the Mail application you once loved, and not the one that comes with OS X Lion.

About the author

Killian Bell is a freelance journalist based in Worcestershire UK. In addition to writing about all things Apple, he's one of the co-founders of the football site TitleTalk. You can follow him on and Twitter.
  • Defaix

    Great advice the step 2: use classic layout! Hadn’t found that and it solves my problem of finding old mails like I used to do it, thanks!

    • Macsessed

      Thanks for the comment Defaix – glad you found the post useful!

  • Andrew

    thanks.. lion sucks big time… especially the mail program.. hate it

  • Dfruk

    Thanx I hate Lion Mail, now I need to make it look like classic on my iPad.

  • Robert Hodges

    Thank you for the tip on resetting to the Snow Leopard look in Lion.   For those of us who scan by subject line the Lion viewer seems to be a step backwards. 

  • jral

    Thanks a lot !