How To Restore Snow Leopard Like Scroll Bar Behavior In OS X Lion

Over the last weekend, many have had the chance to try out Mac OS X Lion. Those who have might have noticed the different scroll bar behavior: instead of being displayed at all times and scrolling on your finger’s direction, they’re usually hidden and move the content on an opposite direction. While the new behavior definitely works well for multi-touch Trackpads and mice, it’s rather confusing with traditional input devices. If you’re using an older Mac with a traditional Trackpad or a regular mouse without multi-touch support, you might want to restore the old behavior. Thankfully, there’s a way.

Mac OS X Lion

Restoring the old behavior is literally one radio button and a checkbox away, although it might not be obvious at first. Here’s how:

Step 1: Launch System Preferences and head over to General. Select the "Always" radio button below "Show scroll bars". This will make sure the scroll bars are permanently visible.


Step 2: Click on "Show All" and select "Trackpad". From there, uncheck "When using gestures to scroll or navigate, move content in the direction of finger movement". This should make the scrollbars scroll the "right" way.


That’s it, the scrollbar behavior in Lion should be fixed. This isn’t recommended for users with relatively new Macs with multi-touch Trackpads or mice, since the old behavior will likely feel as awkward on a multi-touch interface as the new one feels on a legacy interface. The new look of the scrollbars can’t be replaced with the blue style from previous versions, of course: only the behavior is being changed.

Mac OS X Lion is Apple’s newest desktop operating system, which reached final stage this past Friday, less than one year after it was first unveiled. The new system takes several cues from iOS, such as a new Launchpad, which displays all installed applications in a Home Screen-like view, and greatly enhanced multi-touch support. Although multi-touch is indeed a significant selling point of this new release, Lion supports significantly older Macs, dating as far back as the second half of 2006, years before multi-touch became a reality on Apple computers. This leads to several awkward user experiences across the operating system, including the scrollbars, which were clearly designed for multi-touch devices.

Nonetheless, Mac OS X Lion will be available in the Mac App Store for $29 on the 14th.

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