Here, you’ll see three options for showing scroll bars: “Automatically based on mouse or trackpad”: If this is clicked, the scroll bars will show up when you have a mouse connected to your Mac, but the will remain hidden when you’re using a trackpad. “When scrolling”: This option only shows the scroll bars when you’re scrolling. Mac computers running OS X might find that their scrollbars disappear in their web browsers after a few seconds of inactivity. This forum will explain how to disable the automatic disappearing scrollbar setting for Mac computers and have it show all of the time. From the Apple menu, select System Preferences.
Once upon a time, every window on a Mac desktop had big, easy-to-click and impossible-to-miss scroll bars that never, ever disappeared.
Since 2011’s “Lion” update to Mac OS X, however, Apple has adopted an “barely there” policy when it comes to scroll bars.
Indeed, scroll bars on the Mac are now just as wafer-thin as they are on the iPhone and iPad—and in some cases, they may disappear completely when you’re not actively scrolling.
You can scroll on a Mac using the trackpad, spacebar, keyboard, or a mouse — or change your scrolling preferences. Here's what you need to know. The particularly nice bit here is that the scrollbar is on the body element, yet the scrollbar isn’t stuck to the top, bottom, or right edge of the browser window as scroll bars normally are. I made a test page with copy-and-pasteable code to achieve that a similar effect: View Demo.
Luckily, it’s easy to get those scroll bars back—not the old, larger versions, mind you, but at least you can keep the Mac’s new, skinny-mini scroll bars visible at all times.
- Click the Apple menu at the top-left of the screen, then select System Preferences.
- Next, select the General preferences pane; it’s the very first one, up at the top.
- Under the “Show scroll bars” heading, you’ll find three options: “Automatically based on input device,” “When scrolling,” and “Always.”
- Go ahead and select that last “Always” option. You’re done!
Wish you could get the missing scroll bar buttons back, too? You can’t, unfortunately, but you can always use your arrow keys for precision scrolling.
How to always show scroll bars on a Mac
What if you were missing out on web content just because your Mac wasn’t telling you that you could scroll?
It turns out that this is the default on the current version of OS X. So there’s a good chance you are missing content.
Here’s the short and sweet steps to a solution.
- System Preferences (from the Apple Menu) > General.
- Change the Show scroll bars setting to Always.
The Problem and the Solution in Detail
Here’s a screen capture from a demo that Keith Gilbert created for a lesson he wrote on creating interactivity from InDesign (such as scrolling frames).
Unfortunately, my Mac isn’t giving me any indication that this content is scrollable (even in Firefox, a non-Apple web browser).
The fix is quick if you know where to find it.
System Preferences (from the Apple Menu) > General.
Here’s how Show scroll bars setting typically looks by default (with Automatically based on mouse or trackpad selected).
Yes, a “magic” mouse can cause scroll bars to be hidden with this default setting.
Change the Show scroll bars setting to Always. This will force the scroll bars on whenever there is scrolling.
And there’s the scroll bar! The change is typically visible right away.
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