How to Fix Scroll Direction in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Mac OSX Lion is out, and one of the most obvious changes new users are experiencing is a reversal in the direction their mouse scrolls. Up is down, down is up. This can be quite annoying if you (like most people) are used to the idea of moving your finger down to scroll down and up to go up. Apple, on the other hand, believes that it’s more natural to invert this as people begin to become accustomed to the way scrolling is handled on iOS devices such as the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.

Out of the 250 new features Apple is boasting with the new version OS X, this one seems most likely to drive people nuts as they attempt to navigate around Lion for the first time. This change isn’t entirely unexpected considering the direction Apple’s flagship operating system appears to be heading after the massive success of iOS.

Two of Lion’s biggest features (Multi-Touch Gestures and Launchpad) appear to be in direct response to the warm reception this interface style received by consumers on their iOS devices. In Launchpad, programs can be sorted in to folders and displayed in a grid pattern almost exactly as they do on the iPad.

There is a way to fix this, and thankfully it’s fairly simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Open System Preferences
  • Click Mouse
  • Take the checkmark out of the space next to the space that says Move content in the direction of finger movement when scrolling or navigating. (Scroll direction: natural if you’re using a Magic Mouse)

You can also access this menu through Spotlight, Alfred, or any other app that brings you to the preference pane related to the mouse.

The reversed scroll direction is fine for touch-based applications found on the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone but not so much for a desktop being controlled by a mouse and keyboard. Users of the touchpad on a MacBook or MacBook Air might find this shift in direction useful, but it will be an adjustment for seasoned users, for sure.

You can pick up OS X Lion here.