Open Window with Curtains Blowing

Reversed Scrolling: Homerun or Foul Ball?

Open Window with Curtains Blowing@Apple:  Why does reverse scrolling on the desktop feel so unnatural?  After about a week of frustration, I’ve figured out the reason!

First, I’m in no rush to upgrade to Lion, for several reasons, but that’s not what this post is about.

Lion changes desktop scrolling behavior, making it like scrolling on an iOS device (like your iPad or iPhone), and I’ve figured out why this is so difficult on a desktop or laptop computer.  It’s really fairly simple.

We don’t much think about scrolling behavior any more.  It’s just a natural gesture.  Well, until it gets changed.  Then, all hell breaks loose!

On the computer, to scroll a window up, you pull the scroll bar down.  If you have an Apple Trackpad, you slide two fingers down.  You are pulling the scrollbar down to lift the window up, just like raising blinds on a window.

On an iOS device, you touch the window and lift it up, just like raising a real window itself.

So why, aside from breaking a well established habit, is this so infernally difficult on a desktop machine?  Why doesn’t this feel exactly like it feels on an iOS device?

Because, at least while using the Reverse Scrolling app in Snow Leopard, the cursor doesn’t follow the window contents up.  It just stays at its original location.  On an iOS device, your finger goes up the screen with the window contents, so it feels natural, as if you grabbed the glass and lifted it up physically.

Maybe in Lion the cursor moves up with the window contents.  I don’t know.  I haven’t upgraded to it.  But based on the complaints I’m hearing, I doubt it.  Using the Reverse Scrolling app in Snow Leopard the cursor doesn’t move up with the window contents, and that feels maddeningly unnatural.  I literally have to stop and think, “Now, how do I move this window up/down?”

Suggestion:  make the cursor follow the window contents if you don’t want people to just turn off reversed scrolling on the desktop in Lion.