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How to Get the Worst OS X Lion Feature in Windows (Reverse Scrolling)

reversescroll

The upcoming version of OS X, also known as “Lion”, has a new feature that many people hate—scrolling on the trackpad is reversed, just like an iPad or iPhone. If you want this feature in Windows, it’s as simple as can be.

To accomplish this, we’ll be using AutoHotkey, a very simple but powerful scripting language for Windows. Luckily for you, we’ve done all the work, so there’s nothing to do but make the script for yourself. Got more questions? Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to AutoHotkey.

Wait, What? Reverse Scrolling?

Normally, when you scroll down on the trackpad, the web page or content area will actually go upwards—you’re scrolling Down the page, but if you imagined the page as a piece of paper, it would actually be going up, just the top gets cut off from the view of the window. This is what everybody is used to, and it’s really because the scroll action is meant to simulate moving the scroll bar down, so you scroll down.

reversescroll2

On the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones, because you’re using your fingers to scroll, you move your fingers down to simulate moving a piece of paper with your fingers through the viewport. It’s very natural on a touch screen interface.

In this illustration showing the reverse scrolling method, the content pane is actually what is moving. If you scroll down with your fingers, the page moves down so you can see what’s higher up on the page.

reversescroll1

Yeah, these illustrations are terrible. You really need to just try it out.

Setting Up Reverse Scrolling in Windows

To make this work, you’re going to need to make sure that you’ve got AutoHotkey installed, or else the script won’t work. Don’t worry, it’s really lightweight.

Once you’ve got that installed, you can either paste this into a new AutoHotkey script (a *.ahk file), or put it into your existing script. Or you could just download the script we’ve got linked below.

WheelUp::
Send {WheelDown}
Return

WheelDown::
Send {WheelUp}
Return

Save it, double-click the file to run it, and you’ve now got reverse scrolling. Or, you know, just download it.

Note: while you might initially hate it, once you get used to it you might find that it’s actually pretty intuitive, especially if you use any sort of mobile touchscreen device—including Android phones.

Download the Reverse Scrolling AutoHotkey Script

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/31/11

Comments (34)

  1. SDreamer

    Synaptic touchpad users can just simply open up their settings panel and go to scrolling, and tick reverse scrolling….

  2. Aaron

    Typically, I just get on top of the desk and sit behind my Lenovo, using an external monitor in front of me, so I can use the trackpack backwards. This tip will really help, thanks!

  3. The Geek

    @SDreamer

    Thanks for that – I wasn’t sure, since mine doesn’t have that. This solution works for everybody else.

  4. habib

    Well…, April Fools day IS tomorrow….

  5. ADWheeler Photography

    Blasphemy!!

  6. Rajneesh Gadge

    Lol!!

    Nice one xD.

    Anyways Happy April Fool’s Day xD

  7. Ja5087

    It doesn’t work on two finger scrolling

  8. Carter

    this is way better! thanks!

  9. PeekyChew

    How do you undo this?

    I really like it, and will be keeping it, but I’d just like to know in case I ever want to get rid of it.

  10. JustLittleMe

    <3 this but I have two problem with it.
    1. It don´t tun att startup.
    and
    2. When I scroll too fast it says "71 hotkeys…. something do you want to resume?" it´s pretty anoying.

    Pleas help me

  11. luker

    Try adding this to the top of your AutoHotkey.ahk file:

    #MaxHotkeysPerInterval 200 (or higher if you really want…)

  12. Geren

    There’s a way to do it on pre-Lion Macs, too (see the article on Cult of Mac if you’re interested). I tried it on my MacBook, and found that it’s really the way track pads ought to have worked from the start. It took me all of 15 seconds to get used to it.

  13. Michael Langford

    Scroll Reverser on Snow Leopard will give this feature to you on Pre-Lion macs.

  14. Sam Burk

    Is any form of synaptics required?

  15. Rob

    “the Worst OS X Lion Feature”

    Clearly you haven’t seen the new scrollbars (which, thankfully, can be changed).

    I’m rather fond of the reversed scrolling direction. The reversed direction only makes sense with scroll-wheels, not touch-pads.

  16. BW

    Call the WHAmbulance, “worst OS X Lion feature” blah blah. The soon-to-be-if-it-hasn’t-happened-already ubiquity of touchscreens on computing devices actually makes this a smart usability change. I didn’t like it at first because it was the reverse of what I was used to seeing on the monitor, but the more I use it (and thanks to scripts like this, at work in addition to home) the more I like it.
    Cry about Apple’s usability features all you’d like, but they do tend to drag the rest of us into updated modes of computing, as opposed to letting us languish in the great hereafter of legacy devices and stagnated ways of thinking.
    Besides that, if you really don’t like it, then I’m sure OS X will let you change the behavior back to the old method. Thanks for the script!

  17. Chris

    BW is right on the money and now that Lion is out, I’ve used this new scrolling first hand. I hated it for the first day but kept it to see if I would get used to it then suddenly my brain got used to it and hurts a little bit less because it makes more logical sense. Dear Apple, thanks for taking the stuff that is invented and making it better, because you all do a good job at that.

  18. Aardman

    Hmmmm–I kinda like it–will take some time to get used to but I can get there.

    Unfortunately, this is not working with the two-finger setting on my touchpad–only works with the external mouse. Dell Touchpad must have some kind of setting that overrides Windows on this.

  19. Ryan

    What about for horizontal scroll?

  20. Ryan

    For horizontal scroll, add this to your script:

    WheelLeft::
    Send {WheelRight}
    Return

    WheelRight::
    Send {WheelLeft}
    Return

  21. Mike Lopez

    I hated it at first but I love it now. I felt disoriented at first but I realized it was just me so used to the old way of doing it. Whether it makes sense or not doesn’t matter. Once your brain gets used to it, it’ll be “normal” and definitely natural.

  22. Ben

    JustLittleMe, there is a very simple way to enable this at startup.
    Just go to the Windows menu > All programs > Startup
    Put the script file in here

    LikeRyan said, it works horizontally too. And it also works for shift + wheel.
    Here is what my file look like :

    WheelUp::
    Send {WheelDown}
    Return

    WheelDown::
    Send {WheelUp}
    Return

    WheelLeft::
    Send {WheelRight}
    Return

    WheelRight::
    Send {WheelLeft}
    Return

    ~Shift & WheelUp::
    Send {WheelRight}
    Return

    ~Shift & WheelDown::
    Send {WheelLeft}
    Return

  23. Aardman

    This works with my mouse wheel but not on my touchpad. It’s driving me CRAZY! Apparently the Dell Touchpad overrides Windows on this somehow. I’ve tried deselecting the two-finger-scroll option on my touchpad settings, and replacing it with the TwoFingerScroll exe (google code) from a couple years ago, but that’s just way too glitchy–it scrolls way to fast and slowing the speed setting down doesn’t seem to make any difference. It also randomly tries to go back the other way. Any other workaround ideas?

  24. Raphael Keal

    Fake.

  25. Vic

    This is great! I returned from vacation after using Lion on my home computer, and found myself disoriented with old style scrolling on my WinXP machine at work. The script works just fine with a Logitech wireless mouse. loving it.

  26. dabrownalbino

    Sweeeet!! Thank you love it!

  27. Aardman

    OK, I now have a full solution to the AutoHotKey scripts incompatibility issue with some touchpads, assuming you prefer the two-fingered option for scrolling on the touchpad. As mentioned by a previous poster, it appears some touchpad drivers with two-finger scrolling functionality actually override Windows scroll settings with their own. The AutoHotKey script only tweaks the Windows settings, so if touchpad driver is using its own scroll settings instead of Windows, it will have no effect on the touchpad.

    To get around this problem, you need a 3rd party app to manage two-finger scrolling that relies on Windows scroll settings, rather than the native touchpad driver that overrides Windows (in my case, the override was caused by the Dell Touchpad settings for a Synaptics touchpad). Here are instructions, using a 3rd party app that worked for me.

    1. Disable two-fingered scrolling in your native touchpad settings
    2. Use google to find and download the TwoFingerScroll app (an exe file)
    3. Run TwoFingerScroll
    4. Select the “Start with Windows” option under the “General” tab.
    5. If you have trouble in some programs with scroll speed or random reversal of scrolling direction, the program is probably not compatible with the “Smooth” scroll mode in TwoFingerScroll. Use the “Compatible” setting to fix this, or use the “Smart” scroll mode to make it to automatically switch from smooth to compatible scrolling in specific programs. You can train it by holding down “ctrl, alt, shift” and doing a two-fingered scroll within the program that’s having the problem. You only have to do it once and it will automatically use “Compatible” scrolling in that specific program from then on.

  28. Crixler

    I tried this, and it took some getting used to, but then I started to really like it.
    Until I tried loading a game and realized that the scroll wheel was inverted there as well, so my zooming was reversed!
    Is there any way to make this apply only to actual scrolling, and not the mouse wheel as a whole? I’m thinking that might be a bit too complicated and would need to be something supported by the game, probably.
    But if anyone has any idea how to do it, it would be appreciated!

  29. gege

    You can easily stop the script that is executing by right clicking in the lower right icon of AutoHotkey and selecting exit

  30. Rod

    Awesome. Thanks.

  31. Nikhil S

    hey all,
    i’m having trouble incorporating this into my alt window drag HK script. I’m not too well versed in AHK scripts but pasted this in above and then below the alt window drag script and tried restarting the autohotkey app, but no luck either way via touchpad or via external mouse. This happened last time I tried to add a portion to this script as well. Any ideas?

  32. Rob

    I love this script, and I would use it, but it seems to dramatically accelerate the speed of scrolling. If I turn it on, every turn of the mouse wheel causes the page to fly along at warp speed. I like this script, but I also need precision. The speedup also seems to be affecting the (Synaptics) trackpad on my Lenovo. Any idea what might be casing it to speed things up in this way? I have switched the number of scroll lines in the Mouse settings to be 1, and this helps, but it’s still much faster than if the script isn’t running at all :(

  33. chris

    I own a Mac and when I use Bootcamp I want to kill it. Thanks to you, my Mac and my new habit of reverse scrolling can stay!

  34. Hariharan

    Worst feature? by any chance are you a PC Fanboy? That’s a cool feature. Thankfully I have synaptics touchpad and I enabled the reverse scrolling feature.

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