Turn off Animations & Eye Candy Special Effects in Mac OS X Lion

Some people absolutely love Lion’s new eye candy and flamboyant visuals; others are not so keen and would like to disable many of the newly introduced effects, such as animated window transitions and Mail animations. While the animations and effects rarely hinder the way you use your Mac, anybody that uses many of the features day in, day out may find that productivity can be improved when the unnecessary eye candy is disabled.

This tutorial describes several Lion items that can be tweaked to suit your own personal preferences, such as how to:

  1. Disable automatic window animations
  2. Disable Mail’s send and receive animations
  3. Revert Mail back to the classic look
  4. Remove Reading List and Top Sites From Safari bookmarks
  5. Disable Mission Control animation
  6. Speed up Mission Control animation
  7. Disable Launchpad effects

These tweaks to Lion’s interface require command line directives to be typed directly into Terminal, such as the ever-versatile command defaults write, but don’t worry because it’s just as easy to go back to the defaults if you don’t like the new behaviour. Unfortunately, many elements of Lion’s UI are hard to change, and many of its features don’t have any settings to play around with. You may want to consider any of the various “power tool” apps that can help to customise many aspects of Lion, especially if you’re not comfortable using Terminal.

Automatic Window Animations

The window animations in Lion are perhaps not obvious at first – each new window starts small and zooms in quickly to the correct size. The animation doesn’t take long, but it can be quite frustrating at times. You will have to Quit and restart an application for the changes to take effect, as it uses the settings it finds upon launch.


To disable automatic window animations, open Terminal and type the command:

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool NO


To enable window animations, enter this in Terminal:

  • defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool YES

Mail Animations

Mail animations are completely separate from any others, and controlled by their own defaults write command. When you send a mail, the Message window flies off the top of the screen – a feature that some people love and others hate. When you replyto a mail, the Message window pops out of the Mail application and centres in the middle of the screen.

Sent mail windows in Mail whoosh off the screen
Sent mail windows in Mail whoosh off the screen

Disable Send and Reply Animations

To disable both animations open Terminal and type:

  • defaults write com.apple.Mail DisableReplyAnimations -bool YES
  • defaults write com.apple.Mail DisableSendAnimations -bool YES

Enable Send and Reply Animations

To revert to the default settings type:

  • defaults write com.apple.Mail DisableReplyAnimations -bool NO
  • defaults write com.apple.Mail DisableSendAnimations -bool NO

Classic Mode in Mail

Mail’s new Lion layout won’t appeal to everyone, so thankfully it’s easy to use the old classic layout. Enter Mail preferences (hit COMMAND and ,) and choose the Use classic layout option under the Viewing section. Mail switches to a more traditional split-pane view with messages in the top section and content in the lower half.

The classic layout in Mail
The classic layout in Mail

The Safari Reading List and Top Sites Icons

Remove Both Icons From the Bookmarks Bar

Both the Reading List and Top Sites icons can be removed from Safari’s Bookmarks bar with a simple defaults write command:

  • defaults write com.apple.Safari ProxiesInBookmarksBar '()'

Remove One Icon From the Bookmarks Bar

To remove one or the other, use one the strings below – remember that the item in quotes is the one you wish to keep.

  • defaults write com.apple.Safari ProxiesInBookmarksBar '("Top Sites")'
  • defaults write com.apple.Safari ProxiesInBookmarksBar '("Reading List")'

Restore Both Icons to the Bookmarks Bar

To restore both icons back to the default location, type the following into Terminal:

  • defaults write com.apple.Safari ProxiesInBookmarksBar '("Top Sites","Reading List)'
Both icons can be easily removed
A clutter-free Bookmarks menu

Mission Control Animation

Mission Control is a very useful feature of OS X that helps keep all your open applications, windows and spaces organised. But wouldn’t you like to disable the “zoom” animation and make the windows appear immediately in the correct place?


You can disable the zoom animations by typing this command into Terminal:

  • defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -int 0; killall Dock


Mission Control animations can be turned back on with:

  • defaults delete com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration; killall Dock

Speed Up Mission Control Animation

Rather than disable animations in Mission Control completely, it’s possible to speed them up considerably. The following command will do the trick – the example here uses a value of 0.1 seconds, but any number can be used.

  • defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.1; killall Dock

Launchpad Effects

Launchpad fades smoothly into view when activated, but the animation can be disabled so that it appears immediately.

Launchpad's fade-in effects
Launchpad's fade-in effects


Launchpad’s show and hide durations can be set independently. To set both to minimal delay, use these defaults write commands:

  • defaults write com.apple.dock springboard-show-duration -int 0

defaults write com.apple.dock springboard-hide-duration -int 0
killall Dock


To reset the animation times back to the default values, use:

defaults delete com.apple.dock springboard-show-duration
  • defaults delete com.apple.dock springboard-hide-duration
  • killall Dock
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About the author

Roland Banks

I've been passionate about Apple ever since I bought my first iPod followed by a white polycarbonate MacBook in 2007. I currently own a MacBook Pro Retina, an iPad Mini Retina, and an iPhone 6.


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  • You should turn off the service that appends your links when doing copy/paste since you are instructing people to run commands on the terminal.

  • Mac OS X 10.8 : but I am afraid the disable windows animation failed to turn them off. I realise that everywhere I look the same command is recommended. It just doed not work for me!