MacOSX and “natural” mouse scrolling

When I first starting using Mac OSX, as with most people, I’ve found, the “natural” mouse movement was a bit jarring. I was tempted to turn it off but I thought to myself, “self, the Mac OSX developers went out of their way to put this here. They disrupted lots of people by making it the default. There must be a reason for it.” So I decided to leave it on.

After a few weeks of use, I can see why: it just makes more sense. Scrolling in a way that is more “reality like” makes the whole process that much more intuitive. If you have a touchscreen smartphone or tablet (which all work this way since it would be silly to have any other action with a touchscreen device) you’ll appreciate it even more.

However, all of that being said, I’m turning it off. Why? I work in a environment where I am using multiple operating systems each day. I can’t afford to buy only Mac OSX. And even if I could, there are things that a Mac just can’t do, thanks to hardware limitations, mostly. On top of that, I often use other people’s computers and I certainly can’t make them choose Mac OSX just because I did. Jumping from one method of scrolling to another and back again in rapid succession becomes tedious. It’s hard enough dealing with “Control” vs “Command” for common keyboard short cuts like Copy and Paste. But the “natural” scrolling just takes too much time to get used to over and over again.

Some day, I imagine, all Operating Systems will feature a “natural” scrolling option. And then jumping to that method might make more sense. But, until then, I’ll have to stick with the usual. Sometimes, following the herd is where it’s at.

However, if you’re in a Mac only environment and you aren’t using “natural” scrolling, I urge you to try it. Give it a week and see what you think when it’s over.


  1. strandloper says:

    It does make sense for touchscreen devices and possibly for touch mice (is that what they’re called?). But not for wheel mice where the metaphor is one of scrolling a page that the underside of the wheel is resting on. Rotating the wheel in one direction causes the surface it rests on to move in the opposite direction. Hence rotating the wheel down to push the page up makes perfect sense.

    1. Daniel says:

      I had never looked at it like that. You’re right though. If the notion is that it is a wheel sitting on a piece of paper, then the “natural” scrolling would be backwards. However, if the notion is that the wheel IS the paper, then the “natural” scrolling makes more sense.

      I guess, in that way, it depends on whether you see the wheel as a device on top of the page, or if you see the wheel as the page itself.

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