OSX Lion – “Natural Scroll” is Anything but Natural

Dear Apple,

“Natural Scrolling?” That’s really what you’re calling this shit? Natural scrolling?

Natural scrolling is about as natural as a deep-fried twinkie on a styrofoam plate, and fuck you for even trying to spin this stupidity.

Natural scrolling should be called “inverted scrolling” on a laptop or desktop. Sure it may be natural on a touchscreen to pull content in the opposite direction, but in case you didn’t notice, none of the devices that run Lion have touchscreens (at the moment).

Defaulting such an obnoxious and useless feature really diminishes the magic of using my new MacBook Air. Sure it’s easy to turn off, but why bother hassling me with it at all.

Cordially,

David

PS – The new MacBook Air is quite nice.

17 thoughts on “OSX Lion – “Natural Scroll” is Anything but Natural

  1. Natural scrolling is well, natural.

    It’s very logical, here’s why:

    Hint-think about the motion your hand does when pushing a document that is in front of you on your desk to the back of your desk.

    1. Triastan, the thing is that your desktop or laptop is not a piece of paper on your desk. Natural scrolling makes plenty of sense on a touch screen, but when you aren’t physically interacting directly with the surface, it isn’t natural. It’s inverted.

      Further proof is that there wasn’t a big debate about it when the iPhone launched, because it is natural under those circumstances. The fact someone had to make a video to explain natural scrolling’s logic shows that it isn’t really natural.

      Lastly, sure you can get used to it. I did before I turned it off, but just because you can become accustomed to doing something doesn’t mean it makes sense.

  2. I disagree. By definition a computer scene is a metaphor for a physical desktop. Have you tried sliding a document from the front of your desk to the rear of your desk? Pay attention to what direction your hand does and then tell me how moving your hand downward to do the same thing on a computer screen is in any way intuitive.

    The only way it coukd be intuitive would be if you are grabbing a pulley (scrollbar) attached to the document to pull it to the back of the desk, but that is a kludge that has basically been done away with in Lion.

  3. “By definition a computer scene is a metaphor for a physical desktop.”

    Just because operating system GUI’s have used a desktop metaphor doesn’t actually make them desktops. They are very different entities on more levels than I care to delve into at 2AM.

    You might have taken a liking to Apple’s new method of scrolling, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t make the method intuitive. When Apple integrates touchscreens with OSX, I will be happy that they included this, but until then, I will stick with my classic scrolling.

    To pull a quote from the top commenter on your video:

    “I want to go up, I move my fingers up. I want to go down, I move my fingers down. I want to go back, I move my fingers left. I want to go right, I move my fingers right.

    How is that NOT natural!

    If you need to make a video to explain it, then its not natural, full stop.”

  4. That’s funny because that’s exactly how natural scrolling works-you want the document to go up, you move your fingers up.

    The only reason people don’t like it is because they have gotten used to it the old way, which is fine. But if you think about it logically, it’s not at all intuitive.

  5. Let me see if I can explain some of confusion. Think about the purpose of windows and scroll bars. A window is used to show a portion of a document. The scroll bar is used to indicated the position of the window with relation to the document. If the scrollbar is in the uppermost position you are viewing the top of the document. If it’s at the lowest position you’re viewing the bottom of the document. In traditional scrolling you’re not actually moving the document the but position of the window over the document. So when you scroll up or down you’re moving the window the same direction but the document remains fixed.

    In OS X Lion’s “Natural Scrolling” you are directly manipulating the document. When you push upwards the page slides up while the window remains stationary. When you push down the document slides down and window doesn’t move. It is natural because it reflects what is really happening. In traditional, scrolling the movement of the scroll bars logically moves the window over the document but of course that’s not what actually happens the computer translates changes in the scroll bar position to the document so the window can remain stationary.

    1. Again, that’s all well and good except that you are not directly manipulating the document as you would if it were a touchscreen, you are working through an intermediary device like a touchpad or a mouse.

      If you like natural scrolling, great, enjoy it… I just don’t understand the urge to convert the non-believers.

  6. I completely disagree that Lion is Apple’s Vista. I left Windows in large part because Vista.

    Lion adds some very interesting features, some meh features, and a few that I could live without, but all-in-all its a solid OS.

    Long-term, I’m a bit worried that Apple may try and merge iOS and OSX into a single cross-device OS… If they do this, I imagine I will be quite peeved.

  7. Absolutely agree, David. The fact that one would need to train themselves for hours to days to get used to some supposed “natural” scheme is laughable.

    Worse still are these jackasses who are convinced they are on some holy mission to convince everyone else why all of a sudden what they were doing for decades is now desperately in need of fixing.

  8. I just went on vacation, so I got to use my MacBook with Lion exclusively for a week. Now that I’m back at work I keep using my mouse’s scrollwheel the wrong way! I too was initially against the scroll change, but I decided to let myself get used to it to see what I think – what’s the harm? It’s easy enough to switch back. And you know what – the way Lion does it is WAY more natural feeling to me. The reason – I’ve forgotten entirely about scroll bars. My eyes now stay directly on the content I’m moving instead of flicking back and forth between content and scroll. Without scrollbars, pulling the wheel does not intuitively feel like the content should go down. When I just look at the content, I naturally push up to move something away from me and pull back to pull something toward me. While the content on my screen is vertical, the iPad/Lion way still feels way more natural after only a week of use. Now, quite frankly, I’m trying to figure out how to change the scroll wheel in Windows so that I can do this all the time. Give it one week.

  9. Granted this is an old topic but I wonder what you ended up with after 3 months of use. When using spaces, launchpad, and Safari go back/go forward, “natural scrolling” feels just right. When there’s a scroll bar on the screen is where I can see some people would want to keep scrolling the way it was. How about an option to turn off natural scrolling *only* when there are scroll bars on the screen?

  10. @Tuyen – I’m still not a fan.

    Sure I can get used to it, but I don’t like the sensation when I’m not physically touching the screen. Plus, I handle a lot of different people’s computers, and I find the constant switch unbearable.

    Users can get used to anything good or bad. Just because we can adapt, doesn’t mean we should.

  11. It makes sense that “natural scrolling” mimics scrolling the page when you scroll up or down. The conventional way of doing it for the past decades is that there is a scroll bar and just like how your mouse pointer moves down when you move your finger down, the scroll bar does the same, thus scrolling the page down as well. Apple’s natural scrolling is intuitive, but it doesn’t have the same “grab” feeling you get on touchscreens when you scroll. Since your hand is positioned far away from the screen, it is hard to feel the page-grabbing feeling you get on touchscreens. However, changing your scrolling to classic produces a huge problem as well! When you are in the familiar classic scrolling mode, you have a visual scrollbar to reassure you that your fingers moving down also moves the scrollbar and the page down together with your downward gesture. HOWEVER, for spaces, this is not the case. There is no scrollbar so changing desktops with three finger swipes are all wrong and inverted! So there’s actually no perfect way to solve this problem dammit. Either natural scrolling and get over the weirdness of not feeling that “page grab effect” or use classic scrolling and become confused when you try to switch desktops via Spaces. That’s just my thoughts.

    1. I’d like to add to this if you don’t mind. And yes, I’m necroing, but this page’s SOE is fantastic so I know I’ll be read regardless.

      The thing is, the scrollbar is there for more than a visual handle to grab onto. It’s also a subtle indication that there is more content to be had if you want to look. That’s good UI design, and a good reason to keep it around.

      Say you’re on a page, and for whatever reason the author decided to have a half-screen gap between articles. If you have a scroll bar you can tell at a glance not only that there are more articles to read on the page, but also get a pretty good idea as to the quantity.

      If the bar is very large, maybe only 5-10 indexing motions. If it is small, then using the page down key might be a better option, or a search if you’re looking for a specific subject.

      Remove the scrollbar and this becomes much less clear.

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