OS X Lion changed not only how scrolling works, but if and when scroll bars appear. The issue of natural vs. unnatural scrolling is one that can be successfully argued by either side; in other words, I think it's a toss-up. But the issue of scroll bars not appearing, or only appearing if you are in the process of scrolling, is a user interface mistake on Apple's part. Apple may have gone a little too far in its zeal to bring all things iOS to the Mac OS.
The only reason to remove scroll bars is because of the amount of room they occupy; in the limited display environment that iOS devices live in, that may be a good idea. On the Mac, it's just plain silly. By removing scroll bars, Apple removes a key visual benefit: the ability to know where you are in a document at all times. Scroll bars instantly show you your current position, as well what direction you may wish to move in to view the remaining document.
Without scroll bars, it's a crapshoot. Are you near the end? Near the beginning? Have you read the whole article, or is there more hidden below the window? Or maybe there is more to the right or left of the window. With Lion's concealment of scroll bars, I have no idea where I am at a glance.
Lion's default behavior seems to be to display scroll bars if and when you start scrolling. So, in order to find out whether you need to scroll or not, you have to scroll to find out where you are. Seriously, Apple. Does that really make sense to you?
Configuring OS X Lion Scroll Bars
Fortunately, you don't have to live with Lion's scroll bar defaults; you can change them to meet your needs or preferences.
- Launch System Preferences, either from the Dock or from the Apple menu. If you're trying Lion for the first time, you can also launch System Preferences from the Launchpad by clicking the Launchpad Dock icon, and then clicking the System Preferences icon.
- Once the System Preferences window opens, select the General preference pane.
- The middle section of the General preference pane controls when scroll bars appear and a few additional scroll bar options.
- To return the scroll bars to their pre-Lion functionality, select "Always" from the Show Scroll Bars options.
The scroll bars will now always be visible, even when you're not scrolling.
You can quit System Preferences, and no longer have to worry about just where you are when you're browsing a document.