Workaround for lack of scrollbar arrows in Mac OS X Lion

“Although you can set scrollbars to always display in windows, there is no option to show the actual scrollbar arrows anymore in Mac OS X Lion,” OS X Daily reports.

“A simple workaround to get used to this is to start using the keyboards up and down arrow keys instead,” OS X Daily reports. “Ideally users will just adopt to the new scrolling standard that started with touch screens on the iPhone and iPad and has since made it’s way to the Mac platform with trackpads and the Magic Mouse. It may be hard to break old habits, but it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing scrollbar arrows and buttons again on either of Apple’s OS choices.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. What annoys the hell out of me is that ill scroll to the bottom of a folder and the scrollbar blocks the làst item from view until i of course stop hovering my mouse over the window.

    In a lot of ways im starting feel like lion is a step backwards in usability.

    1. There are a lot of little annoyances. I’m still not happy about losing the old behavior of Spaces. Moving between spaces takes too long, you can’t move vertically, and you lose the view of your desktop when you switch to Exposé. Way too clunky.

      1. I agree, lots of little things – Spaces is a big one for me, and since I don’t use a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad (love my logitech with all the buttons – makes closing windows and going back a page very easy) the Mission control thing doesn’t work as smoothly for me.

        1. Mission Control and Spaces works great for me. Once I understood it, I liked it much better than the old Exposé and Spaces. It’s more intuitive. And I use a regular two-button mouse with scroll wheel that is also the third button.

          Set the “center” button (clicking scroll wheel) as Mission Control. Then, it’s two clicks to go directly from where you are now to any Space. I also have Control Left Arrow and Control Right Arrow set to move between Spaces, and that works both inside and outside of Mission Control.

          I have also changed how I use Spaces, and it makes more sense. I used to have Spaces permanently set up, with each Space having a “purpose.” They were always there, even if I only used it once a week for a specific purpose. NOW, I create a new Space (in Mission Control) “as needed,” just like I open a new app window when I need it. When I’m done with whatever I was doing in that Space, I get rid of that Space, just like I close a window when I’m done with it. So, I only have the Spaces I’m actually using at any given moment, instead of permanently having a bunch of Spaces that I use only occasionally. That makes navigation easier.

    2. Since I use a regular mouse (with scroll wheel) most of the time and not a trackpad, I set “Show scroll bars” to “Always” in System Preferences General pane. Then, the last item in the list does not get blocked.

      And I don’t miss those tiny arrows because I never used them. I like the new narrower more-subdued scroll bars.

      1. thanks for the tip. that blockage of the last entry has been bugging me too. and i agree with the dude, a lot of little things are making me think apple tried to do too many things at once.

      2. You know I’m an idiot.. I saw that option the other night and didn’t even think to check the box. lol

        THANK YOU – I’ll be setting that this evening.

      3. Trouble is, when you enable the scroll bars “always”, they are much wider, and occupy much more screen real estate, because they remain embedded in the old-style strips at the side and at the bottom. In fact, they also occupy space in the sidebar and in the columns of Finder column view.

        Why do those strips need to be so wide?

        The scroll bars are much narrower in the new optional paradigm. So why does Apple think we can’t aim accurately if we want to see the scroll bars permanently? One of the problems when they disappear is that you are often to late to hit them before they time out.

  2. 1. Lion is good for the average consumer, but is a PITA for everyone else (Mac users >5 years).

    2. I remember when MDN made fun of other sites for having mobile versions..touting that iOS uses a “real” browser and doesn’t need to be handicapped.
    Ironically, this site is laggy as hell on iOS, and you can’t even use Reader. MDN, call Appleinsider and ask them who there web developer is. You need something like that. MDN is starting to remind me of Spymac.

    1. I bought my first Mac in 1990. I have Lion on my MacBook Air, Snow Leopard on my MacBook Pro, and Leopard on my Power Mac G5 (plus I have an iPhone and iPad). Frankly I like the Lion interface. If it didn’t break some of my software I’d’ve already updated my MacBook Pro. The only thing that gets annoying is remembering to switch directions when scrolling.

  3. That article was rather non-informative. Of course you can always use the arrow keys on the keyboard or click the scrollbar. Not much of a workaround.

    The lack of scrollbar arrows is one of the primary reasons I cannot upgrade my parents’ Macs to Lion (still running 10.6). My dad is approaching 70 and fairly set in his ways when it comes to interacting with a computer. He understands everything he really wants to know about his Mac (surf internet, check Mail, turn on/off). He is happy clicking the UP arrow and DOWN arrow to scroll. The concept of click and hold, then dragging the scrollbar is just harder for him to grasp. And the thought of trying to teach him to use a Magic Trackpad is just about the equivalent to teaching monkeys to write Shakespeare. :-/

    1. Hi Jim,

      I’m not anywhere near 70, but I feel the same way. I upgraded simply because I need to develop under the latest version of Xcode. I was happy with everything else. But now this upgrade made a dozen of my programs unusable, including drivers for my Kensington trackball. If I was using the built-in trackpad I probably wouldn’t mind the new scrollbar style. But I use an external keyboard and a trackball. Before I could click both buttons on my trackball and scroll. Without those drivers I want to revert to the scrollbar arrows as that’s what I am used to. I just want to do my job the way I’m used to but sometimes computer companies seem to think “innovation” is the best course for everyone.

      If I have time I always enjoy learning new things, but right now getting paid is more of a priority.

  4. I bought my 27″ iMac almost three months ago and don’t give a good gods damn about scroll bars. They are entirely irrelevant when the act of placing the cursor in a window and switching to two fingers invokes scrolling.

  5. EDIT: The very least Apple could do, is show an up arrow and down arrow at their respective top and bottom parts of the scrollbar if you have the scrollbars always set to show. Just dumb Apple… really dumb.

  6. it’s terribly annoying. it has very little to do with changing habits. my email app Entourage has 2 separate windows. having to use the arrow keys instead of the scroll arrows makes everything take twice as long with twice as many steps b/c there are multiple windows and that window has to be selected first before the arrow keys will engage it. not only this but the scroll bars are so tiny & thin in some places you need tweezers to grab ’em. they could at least be more consistent in size. some are very long vertically and others are actually smaller than the damned mouse cursor! the min length should be much bigger. it’s typical for apple to remove features upon OS upgrades rather than at least converting those features to prefs for users who need them. there are many other issues with Lion where features were removed and processes were slowed down (animation). there used to be a pref for the arrows. what is the harm, in leaving the pref there? you can’t have too many prefs. more customization = better product.

    a couple posts i read from users who need them for other reasons:

    “Joel writes: I have severe arthritis in my hands and I dearly miss scrolling arrows in Mountain Lion. How do I get them back?”

    “I’m a bass player and I use a foot mouse that when i step on it, it clicks the down arrow to scroll sheet music. I needs those arrows back!!”

    here is an app i found that has some customizations that may help but no arrrows yet. the developer stated he is trying to find a way to bring them back.

    “please add the scroll arrows if possible. I would even pay for that. I am a quadriplegic and it would help me.”

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