Lion: Reenable Window Scroll Bars

OS X Lion changed up several Mac user interface elements, including an iPad-like window scrolling. The new Lion way hides window scroll bars unless you’re actively scrolling, which is just fine unless the scroll bars don’t appear, preventing you from scrolling. The good news is that you can force Lion to always show window scroll bars, and it’s easy to do.

Lion scroll bars aren't visible by defaultLion doesn’t show window scroll bars by default

To force Lion to always show window scroll bars, do this:

  • Go to Apple menu > System Preferences
  • Select the General Preference Pane
  • Click the Always radio button under Show scroll bars

Lion's window scroll bar settingsYou can enable window scroll bars in Lion

Lion’s default setting should automatically show scroll bars when you use the scroll gesture to move your view up or down in a window or when your mouse pointer passes over the right side of a window — the area previously reserved for always visible scroll bars.

Unfortunately, those scroll bars don’t always appear unless you’re using the scroll trackpad gesture. In my case, my Mac must deal with my nearly random use of a Kensington Orbit trackball, Wacom Intuos 3 tablet, Apple Magic Mouse, and my laptop’s built-in trackpad. It seems Lion can’t quite sort out what it should do with my collection of pointing devices.

Lion's scroll bars, back at the ready!Lion’s window scroll bars, back in action

Setting Lion to always show window scroll bars takes care of my inability to scroll with any pointing device, and it also gives me a nice visual cue that there’s more for me — and that’s especially handy in Finder windows with long folder lists.