Hi! I'm Tanner.

I'm a software engineer at Apple. I write here occassionally.

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The Quest for a Slim Scrollbar

For a while now, I have been wishing for a smaller scrollbar on my main browser Chrome. I am not sure why I wanted one, but I just did. Having such a large waste of space seemed kind of odd to me. I began my quest for a slimmer scrollbar over the winter break and have tried a few different things since then and this is a summary of what I tried.

The first thing I tried for this quest was simple - remove the entire scrollbar. Luckily I found an extension called No Chrome that did just that. Despite the bad name which leads to some very questionable thoughts when trying to find the extension in the extensions manager, the extension works quite well and does what you’d expect - it removes the scrollbar. Very clean, simple, and overall nice to use.

Spite all this nice, clean scrollbar-free browsing, there were a few problems. For one, I lost a bit of that sensory perception of where I was on the page and how much further I had to go. Obviously, without a scrollbar it becomes very hard to tell where I am and how much was left to scroll. I did not expect it to affect me too much, but after a while I found myself scrolling a lot more than I probably needed to just due to not knowing those things. Secondly, scrolling textareas were practically invisible. I could not tell if they were simply a styled piece of content on the web page or a textarea without purposely going over and trying to scroll. Inefficient? Yes.

The second extension I tried was called Simple Scrollbars which was the first extension I tried that had an iOS-like look to it. When I tried the scrollbar out, it was a bit large for what I wanted, though the colors and style had me thinking of trying to find an iOS scrollbar replica. My main problem with this scrollbar is that you can still see that little “trench” that the scrollbar resides in and that just was not kosher with me. You can’t mix simple/minimalistic and then have this trench thing. Just no.

The last extension I tried was called elementary scrollbars. In the picture featured, it looked exactly like an iOS scrollbar - perfect, yeah? Well, almost. The scrollbar was good - it was thin, nice, and out of the way.

You can see a mashup.comparison image of both scrollbars below (elementary scrollbars on the left).

But the elementary scrollbar extension and the Simple Scrollbar extension both had one flaw - they looked out-of-place on non-white backgrounds. Take a look at the image to see for yourself (elementary scrollbars on the left).

So, wrapping this up - which am I going with? I am not sure as all the scrollbars (or lack there of) have their pros and cons. Perhaps I shall find an answer with some more explorations or just stick with the OS X/Chrome default.