All of Apple’s MacBooks come equipped with a multi-touch trackpad that recognizes a two-finger scroll up/down gesture. Apple’s iMac, Mac Pro, and Mac Mini can also be paired with any generation of Apple’s Bluetooth Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse to provide a similar multi-touch experience.
You probably use this gesture a lot throughout OS X while you’re browsing websites or writing up long documents since clicking and dragging is so 1990’s and tap/multi-touch gestures are more commonly used on modern multi-touch trackpads.
If you’re an ex-Windows user, or still use Windows, then you’re probably used to the content on the page scrolling in the same direction as your fingers move on the trackpad, but on the Mac it’s quite the opposite by default. Fortunately, it’s easy to change the scroll direction of your trackpad, and in this tutorial, we’re going to show you how it’s done.
What is natural scrolling on a Mac?
So by now you’re probably wondering what the difference is between natural and unnatural scrolling. If so, bear with us while we try to explain.
By default, your Mac is configured to have “natural” scrolling, which means that the webpage or document you’re viewing will track your finger movement on the trackpad and the page will scroll in the opposite direction as your fingers are moving on the trackpad. For example, if you drag down on the trackpad, the page will scroll up, and vice-versa.
The example below shows what natural scrolling looks like:
The scrolling movement is different on Windows in that the content on a page moves in the same direction as your fingers as you scroll. If you’re new to OS X, or you just prefer the unnatural scrolling method over all, you can turn natural scrolling off. With unnatural scrolling, as you drag down with your fingers, the page content will move down, and vice-versa.
Below is an example of what unnatural scrolling looks like:
How to change your Mac’s scroll direction
Whether you’re using a Magic Trackpad, Magic Mouse, or the multi-touch trackpad built into your MacBook, you can easily change the scroll direction so when you tap and drag on the input device with two fingers, the page moves in the direction you want it to go.
To change the scroll direction, you’ll have to disable natural scrolling from your Mac’s settings. To do that, just follow the steps below:
1) Launch the System Preferences app on your Mac.
2) If you’re using a Magic Trackpad or the multi-touch trackpad on a MacBook, you’ll open the “Trackpad” preferences pane. Alternatively, if you’re using a Magic Mouse, you’ll open the “Mouse” preferences pane.
3) If you’re using a Magic Trackpad or the multi-touch trackpad on your Macbook, open the “Scroll & Zoom” tab. Alternatively, if you’re using a Magic Mouse, open the “Point & Click” tab.
4) Toggle “Scroll direction: natural” on or off to suit your needs by either checking or un-checking the check box.
That’s all there is to it!
From here, you can also configure a wide range of other multi-touch gestures, such as pinch, zoom, and rotate, which are all useful in various native OS X apps, such as Preview; some of them even work in Safari.
If you’re not sure whether or not to use natural scrolling on your Mac, I’d suggest experimenting with the two choices to see which scrolling option works best for you.
I personally enjoy natural scrolling because I’ve gotten used to it while using my Mac over the years, but Windows users who have recently converted to OS X will find this tutorial helpful while making their Mac feel more familiar to what they’ve been using.
Also check out: Apple Magic Trackpad 2 review
Do you use natural scrolling on your Mac or no? Share in the comments.