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November 19th, 2012

On a less serious topic: what the hell is with Apple and scroll bars?

Actually, I like the new, slenderized scroll bars Apple started using with the last OS. The problem is, their implementation of them sucks. Big time.

If you use a recent version of Mac OS X, you probably know what I’m talking about. The scroll bars stay visible too long when you don’t want them to, and disappear frustratingly when you need them.

Two cases in point. First, when you have a file & folder window which has files that equal or exceed the height and width of the window, the bottom scroll bar uselessly appears. Not a problem—unless you happen to want to select the file at the bottom of the window, which I frequently do. In which case, the bottom scroll bar, for moving horizontally, which I almost never use, annoyingly persists. I have to first realize that I have to move the cursor away, and then wait a moment before it disappears—and then when I try to click on the item, the bar reappears and persist even longer. I am constantly blocked from clicking on that last item. What the frack, Apple. If you don’t like the appearance of the bar, fine, but in such cases, make the last item in the list pop above the scroll bar, or else leave an empty gap at the bottom for the bar to inhabit. Whatever, just stop blocking icons.

Second, when you want to scroll up or down a very long list, as I frequently do in Apple’s Mail app, the vertical scroll bar disappears too readily—the exact opposite of the above problem. I use Mail to keep all my email, over many years (I find it a useful way to find records and even files), but that means long lists. I often find myself needing to scroll longer than is feasible by trackpad, so I need to go to the scroll bar and click-and-drag the tab—the entire reason it becomes visible in the first place. But Apple seems to want to play “keep-away” with the tab. Instead of it persisting—a stupid action when it is blocking an item—the right scroll bar far too easily disappears, despite the fact that it blocks nothing at all and there is no reason whatsoever for it to quickly disappear. Quite the contrary, there is every reason for it to stay put! I find myself having to scroll the list up to make the bar appear, and then scramble my fingers to a one-finger controlled hover over the bar once it appears, something not always easy to do.

It’s bad enough that Apple made the keyboard command for jumping to the top of the list impossible to guess. (Fn-Left Arrow, really? In an environment where Command-Up Arrow is the standard?)

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  1. Troy
    November 19th, 2012 at 11:05 | #1

    the previous “Aqua” scroll bars were so ugly that their absence is not missed.

    I hated how their tiled pattern of the thumb repeated. So ghetto.


    Finder has issues with scrollbars but of course Finder always has stupid issues with something.

    With two-finger trackpad scrolling I rarely have to deal with scrollbars, so ditching them is a good trade-off.

    What Apple should do tho is sample the background area of the thumb and change the color of the thumb if necessary to make sure its visible, at least in Safari.

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