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.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. In the System Preferences window, choose the General icon near the upper left corner.

    General in Mac System Preferences
  3. Locate the Show Scroll Bars area. You have three options:

    • Automatically based on mouse or trackpad: Scroll bars appear only when the cursor is in the scroll bar area or when you start scrolling.
    • When Scrolling: Scroll bars show up only when you start scrolling on your mouse or trackpad.
    • Always: Scroll bars are always visible.
    Scroll bar visibility settings in macOS
  4. The second section, Click in the scroll bar to, has two options:

    • Jump to the next page: Clicking in the scroll bar moves to the next or previous page of the document or page you're on, depending on whether you click below or above the scroll box.
    • Jump to the spot that's clicked: The scroll box will move to wherever your cursor is.
    Scroll bar clicking options in macOS
  5. 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.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. From the System Preferences window, select Accessibility.

    Accessibility in macOS System Preferences
  3. In the left sidebar, select Pointer Control.

    Pointer Control in macOS Accessibility settings
  4. Select Trackpad Options or Mouse Options.

    The "Trackpad Options" and "Mouse Options" buttons
  5. Use the slider to adjust scrolling speed.

    Scrolling speed options in macOS
  6. Close System Preferences.

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.

    The Mouse & Trackpad heading
  4. To adjust your mouse or trackpad's double-click speed, adjust the slider.

    The Double-click speed slider
  5. To adjust your mouse or trackpad's scrolling speed, select the Trackpad Options or Mouse Options button.

    Mouse Options
  6. In the screen 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.

    Screenshot of adjusting scrolling speed options.
  7. Close out of the Accessibility window. You've set your new preferences.