I can't wrap my head around the design decision to use over sized icons and tiny scroll bars in the same space. The scroll bars can be hard to grab and sometimes it takes more than one try to use them. It just doesn't make sense when the window could be the same size and view the same amount of information if the icons were smaller and the scroll bars bigger and easier to grab.

I know Gnome 3.16 has decided they needed even bigger icons, AND a hiding tiny scroll bar, even the details view has over sized icons.

  • I guess their thinking is few people actually use the scrollbar to scroll and instead use two-finger scroll on touchpad, the mousewheel or keyboard (arrow keys, page up/down). I disagree with that belief as the scrollbar is the best way to quickly jump around / scroll to a certain point.
    – quassy
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 17:20
  • By the way, I don't think this question is suitable for SE as it's discussion / opinion based. Should probably happen at reddit or Google+.
    – quassy
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 17:30
  • @quassy While generally I'd agree, I think this can be "answered" with a member of the team or reference to their writings. That said, I think you are pretty much on point. Maybe if you answer, I can get one of our designers to comment in agreement.
    – Lewis Goddard
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 20:39
  • OP here, I was seeking an answer from the design/UI people as to their choices for the UI. I have found the scroll bars unusable and have noticed the icons keep getting larger which is fine on a 27in+ monitor, but on my laptop they dominate the space while I struggle to grab and scroll. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that the window resize arrow pops up as I mouse over to grab them and end up resizing and not scrolling. I simply wondered why the choice was made as the usability has been diminished, and if something isn't usable it doesn't matter how beautiful it is. I also wond
    – user720
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 21:11
  • A ghost town? There are about 5 new topics a day, which is fine, and the only reason it has become so low is because much of the support is now happening here at Stack Exchange.
    – quassy
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


UX lead here :)

Scrolling is generally considered something better solved in hardware these days. Whether it's a multi-touch trackpad, mouse, or direct touch input it's not really necessary to hunt down the scrollbar to scroll. In fact you'll notice that most (I haven't used Windows in a while so I'm hesitant saying all) modern operating systems have an overlaid, disappearing scroll bar that it would be better to just call a scroll indicator.

That said, if you maximize the window, the scroll bar should be accessible from the entire edge of the window. Effectively, the width of the scroll bar becomes infinite here since the cursor will stop at the edge of the display.

Edit on April 18th, 2016: As of the latest development version of elementary OS 0.4 (Loki), scrollbars now expand on mouse hover

  • 3
    "Effectively, the width of the scroll bar becomes infinite here since the cursor will stop at the edge of the display." -- really? Even with multiple monitors? My mouse flies right past it, I've mostly gotten used to the scrollbars in Gnome, but I agree with the OP that thin scrollbars are annoying to hunt for. Just my $0.02 Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 23:44
  • I think scrollbars should be wider. Or at least there should be an option under accessibility settings to make them wider. For point&click/drag they are pretty much unusable right now... or they should be disappearing like on mobile to follow through with the concept that one just "shouldn't" scroll via scrollbar anymore. Current solution feels halfhearted. My 0.02 €
    – quassy
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 0:08
  • 1
    The flipside of that is that once a window is maximised, scrollbars often become unnecessary. I must be honest while I do like the sleek appearance of the thin scrollbars, they are quite often infuriatingly difficult to grab. I would hate to see them enlarged by default though as 99% of scrolling is vertical which is taken care of by a mousewheel. An option to enlarge them in the 'accessibility' options would make sense as I can imagine they could be quite difficult to see with any degree of vision impairment.
    – elmato
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 0:22
  • 1
    A bug report about the problem got closed without any comment... I would be interested if there was any user testing done on the decison to shrink scrollbars similar to Slingshot back in the day or if this design decision was just based on the "scrolling habits" of elementary devs?
    – quassy
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 13:56
  • 1
    Please add a knob in elementary-tweaks for example, that allows the end user to increase the width of the scroll bar. I use a logitech trackball and thus do not have a hardware scroll wheel. The tiny little scroll bars are a daily irritation.
    – Sysfu
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 19:03

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