Scroll bar

Updated: 02/01/2021 by Computer Hope

A vertical or horizontal bar commonly 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 on almost every Internet web page.

Scroll bar overview

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 the scroll bar by clicking the scroll arrow at either end of the scroll bars. You may also click 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 to scroll a few lines at a time. The Page Up and Page Down keys or the spacebar scroll down one page at a time.

Most computers today include a mouse with a wheel or button, allowing you to scroll up and down, 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 is often 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's designed to fit the screen. If you are viewing a page with horizontal scrolling, you can scroll to the right by clicking the right scroll arrow on the horizontal scroll bar.

Tip

To enable horizontal scrolling on a long text document, you can disable word wrap. When working with images or other documents, zooming in also enables horizontal scrolling.

How many scroll bars are in a window?

There is often 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 with a fixed window size or do not have word wrap enabled 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's used or the 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, Mouse terms, Scroll, Software terms, Vertical scroll, Wheel mouse