How to Configure Scroll Bars in macOS and OS X

Personalize the appearance of your scroll bars

Starting with Mac OS X Lion, Apple began tinkering with the way scroll bars work, in some ways mimicking how scrolling works on an iOS device. For example, by default, the scroll bars are hidden until you move your cursor to the scroll bar area, and scroll bars no longer have arrows at the ends to let you slowly scroll up and down. 

Fortunately, it's easy to set your preferences and make scroll bars appear at all times by default, and you can also control the scrolling speed of your mouse or trackpad.

The information in this article applies to Macs running OS X Lion and later OS X and macOS versions.

How to Configure Scroll Bars in OS X and macOS

Set up your scroll bars to meet your own personal preferences.

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. In the System Preferences window, choose the General icon near the upper left corner.

  3. Locate the Show Scroll Bars area and select Always if you'd like your scroll bars always visible.

    Screenshot of configuring scroll bars in OS X and macOS
  4. If you prefer to have the scrollbars show up only when you start scrolling, select When Scrolling.

  5. If you want scroll bars to appear only when the cursor is in the scroll bar area or when you start scrolling, select Automatically based on mouse or trackpad.

  6. Exit System Preferences. Your new scroll bar configurations are set.

These settings will apply across all your Mac applications.

Control Your Scrolling Speed

Apple also makes it easy to adjust the scrolling speed of your mouse or trackpad.

In macOS Catalina

The interface is a little different with Catalina than earlier macOS and OS X versions.

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. From the System Preferences window, select Accessibility.

  3. In the left sidebar, select Pointer Control.

  4. Select Trackpad Options or Mouse Options.

  5. Under Trackpad Options, check the box next to Scrolling to enable scrolling and use the slider to adjust scrolling speed.

  6. Under Mouse Options, check the box next to Scrolling to enable scrolling and use the slider to adjust scrolling speed.

  7. Select OK.

In OS X Lion Through Mojave

  1. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.

  2. From the System Preferences window, select Accessibility.

  3. In the left sidebar, select Mouse & Trackpad.

    Screenshot of adjusting mouse
  4. To adjust your mouse or trackpad's double-click speed, adjust the slider.

  5. To adjust your mouse or trackpad's scrolling speed, select the Trackpad Options or Mouse Options button.

    Screenshot of adjusting scrolling speed options.
  6. In the sheet that appears, use the slider to adjust the scrolling speed of your device and then select OK.

    Enable or disable scrolling for your mouse or trackpad via the checkbox.

  7. Close out of the Accessibility window. You've set your new preferences.