Get Lion’s new scrolling in Snow Leopard today

Dan Frakes
12 July, 2011
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The ‘golden master’ of Lion (Mac OS X 10.7) has been released to developers, which means it won’t be too long before the new OS will be in the hands of consumers. When it is, among Lion’s over 250 new features is one that’s generating quite a bit of hand-wringing (or, in this case, finger-wringing): A new way of scrolling. More specifically, the default scroll direction in Lion is backwards—at least compared to the way we computer users have come to think of scrolling.

According to Apple, “When you scroll or swipe in Lion, content now moves in the same direction as your finger.” In other words, drag two fingers downward on a MacBook’s trackpad or Apple’s Magic Trackpad — or spin your mouse’s scroll wheel towards you—and the content of the current document or window scrolls down, as well. This is exactly the opposite of how it’s worked since the mouse scroll wheel debuted over 15 years ago.

We can debate whether or not this is a good change — and I’ll soon be adding my own two cents on the topic—but it’s the default behaviour in Lion. And while Apple has provided a simple setting in System Preferences to revert scrolling back to the traditional behaviour, it’s safe to say that Apple sees Lion’s approach as the future. So there’s an argument to be made that we should start embracing it. (When the inevitable touchscreen Macs come along, it will certainly make a lot more sense.)

But you don’t have to wait for Lion’s debut to start getting used to ‘reverse’ scrolling. Thanks to a new utility, you can get yourself ready for Lion scrolling while you’re getting your Mac ready for Lion. Scroll Reverser is a simple utility that, when running, places a new menu in your menu bar that lets you choose your scroll behaviour. Choose Reverse Scrolling, and your Snow Leopard will act like a Lion—at least as far as scroll direction goes. The utility even reverses horizontal scrolling—drag two fingers across your trackpad to the left, and onscreen content moves to the left, as well.

If you’re anything like me, it won’t take too long to adjust to this new behaviour when using a trackpad, but reverse scrolling will continue to feel, well, backwards for quite a while when using a mouse’s scroll wheel (or the scroll ring on a large trackball). So you may as well get a head start on acclimating yourself while we all wait for Lion to ship.


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Oscar says:

    “MagicPrefs” enables the new scrolling as well, along with many other features. Use it instead, if you’re gonna install a new app, you might as well make it substantial, no?

  2. Tex says:

    Just got hold of a Magic Trackpad on discount from Officeworks and must say its brillant. Would find it difficult to go back to using a mouse even after just a few days. Anyway, was not happy with the limited gestures under Trackpad prefs so went hunting for a utility. Enter BetterTouchTool. Although still in Alpha this gem has a wealth of customisation for multitouch (including but not limited to Lion reverse scrolling). If your looking to add extra gestures to your Multitouch device you can’t go passed BetterTouchTool.

  3. Gwilym Lucas says:

    Just followed @Tex and I am now trying BetterTouchTool. It has given me Lion like scrolling and Window’s 7 like snapping of windows.

    Very happy so far.

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