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.
Scroll bar overview
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.
How many scroll bars are in a window?
Typically there is only one scroll bar in a window, which is the vertical scroll bar that allows you to scroll up and down in a window. Many programs automatically wrap the text in a window as you change the size of the window or zoom into the document. Programs that have a fixed window size or do not have word wrap enabled will display a horizontal scroll bar as the window is resized. For these programs there would be two scroll bars, a horizontal and vertical scroll bar.
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.