Scroll bar

Updated: 06/16/2017 by Computer Hope

A vertical or horizontal bar commonly located on the far right or bottom of a window that allows you to move the window viewing area up, down, left, or right. Most people today are familiar with scroll bars because of the need to scroll up and down in almost every Internet web page. Below is an image of a Microsoft Windows window with a vertical and horizontal scroll bar.

scroll bar on a window

How to scroll and use the scroll bar

Scroll bars are utilized using the mouse, touchpad, or keyboard. With a mouse, you can move scroll bar by clicking the scroll arrow at either end of the scroll bars, click on an empty portion of the scroll bar, or click-and-drag the scroll box. With a keyboard, you can use the up or down arrow keys, page up and page down key to scroll a few lines at a time or the spacebar to scroll down one page at a time.

Most computers today also include a mouse with a wheel or button that allows you to scroll up and down on a page, and in some cases left to right. See the IntelliMouse definition for additional information about these mice.

Tip: On an Apple computer some programs such as Safari may not display a scroll bar. To scroll up and down in these programs touch two fingers on your touchpad or touch mouse and drag them up or down.

Tip: See our touchpad page for other methods of scrolling using a laptop touchpad.

How do I use or enable the horizontal scroll bar?

The horizontal scroll bar in almost all programs is either missing or disabled because the text or other content being displayed is wrapped or resized to prevent horizontal scrolling. For example, with this web page, there is no horizontal scrolling because it is designed to fit the screen. If you are viewing a page that has horizontal scrolling you can scroll to the right by clicking the right scroll arrow on the horizontal scroll bar.

Tip: If you are working with a long text document and want to enable horizontal scrolling you can disable word wrap in your program to prevent text from being wrapped to the next line and allow horizontal scrolling. When working with images or other documents zooming in will also enable horizontal scrolling.

Should I be using "scroll bar" or "scrollbar" in my writing?

Both "scroll bar" and "scrollbar" are correct depending on the context and where it is used or style guide being followed. For most style guides, "scroll bar" as two words is used when describing the bar or feature that allows you to scroll, up, down, left, or right. When referring to a configuration, object, or setting "scrollbar" as one word is used.

Horizontal scroll, Scroll, Vertical scroll, Wheel mouse