How To Reverse Lion’s Mouse Scrolling Back To Snow Leopard’s

Posted in OS X on 20/07/2011 by Cormac Moylan


One of the new features in OS X Lion is the introduction of “natural” scrolling. Previously you would have moved your finger down to move down, and up move up on your mouse/trackpad. In Lion a little switchero has happened. Apple decided to introduce a more “logical” mouse gesture. Now, when you move your finger up you move down the page, and when you move down you move up.

This is Apple’s way of introducing iOS like scrolling into OS X. It’s not for everyone and you might want to switch your mouse gesture back to what you previously enjoyed. It’s easy to switch back to Snow Leopard’s mouse behavior. In Lion, go to System Preferences > Mouse > and remove the tick from “Scroll direction: natural”.

While this type of scrolling isn’t for everyone, it’s not that difficult to get used to. It took me only a few seconds to get used to moving in reverse and I have since found it very intuitive and you could argue that this is how scrolling should have always behaved.

  • Esbenfrandsen

    Hmm.. I’m the owner of a Mighty Mouse with the rollerball and for some reason the mouse menu doesn’t look at all like the one shown here. There’s no option called “natural”.
    Do I need to buy the new mouse to switch back to old school scrolling?

    • frank1e

      like me you maybe have a box which says “Move content in the direction of finger movement…” – unchecking seems to do the trick…

    • hairy

      its actually under the trackpad menu, god only knows why. This is a very dumb move on Apple’s part.

      • Sat

        worst idea… it sucks… got rid of this finally.

    • Lion Rocks

      untick move content in the direction of finger movement…. in the mouse options in system pref

      • Tiborp


      • TontoYoder

        Thanks! The “Move content” untick worked for me (after temporarily plugging in a basic Apple mouse.) Now my Microsoft Explorer mouse works like a charm.

    • oddfuzz

      Yes, sweet lord.  I have a great Microsoft mouse which I love, and I’m in the same boat. All I have are tracking speed and double click speed slider bars!  Lion is unusable in this awful scrolling condition.   

    • April

      I also do not have the option to tick or untick anything related to scrolling in my mouse menu.  And I cannot access the Trackpad menu, because it is stuck searching for a Trackpad, which I do not have. 

      • Shawball32

        Hook up your Apple mouse just to make the adjustment.  These said options appear with Apple mouse connected.  The new (old) scrolling stays when you unhook Apple mouse.  I just did this. 

        • I am using the Apple mouse just like Esbenfrandsen and I have the same problem.  

        • TontoYoder

          Thanks! This worked for me. I use a Microsoft Explorer mouse with several extra assignable buttons that I find way preferable to the basic Apple mouse, but the upside-down scrolling was irritating until the fix.

    • I have the same problem.  Did you find a fix?

  • Guest

    very “initiative” you say…..

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this tip!

    All day I’ve tried to get used to Lion’s scrolling, and it felt so unnatural. Now I’m back to good–well, almost.

  • Sean

    Thanks!  You just saved me A LOT of frustration!

  • Forcecats

    thanks for the tip, old habits die young..

  • Jp

    Strange that it says ‘Natural’ and the movie shows a down swipe and downward scroll, yet for me this was complete reverse, disabling this setting actually achieves what its meant to do

  • Anonymous

    Are you kidding “this is how scrolling should have always behaved” is complete nonsense. It should be an option granted. But how about not spinning this? It should not have become the default. Besides if you move between as many computers as I do you would see how lame this is.

  • Anonymous


  • Eskatz

    Does anyone know how to get it so the using three fingers scrolling up makes the page go all the way to the top, and vise versa?

  • Guest

    This is not typical Apple trademark intuitive.  Unchecking the ‘scroll’ in preferences makes on think they are disabling scrolling in general, not reversing the scroll direction.  Thanks goodness a google and this page helped me figure it out, it was driving me batty. 

  • beren

    Yes, but it’s stupidly counter intuitive for things like google maps zooming in and out. 🙂

  • Jwpastor

    It operates just like a pdf, and is more life like. Just imagine your sliding the page up to see the bottom, or pulling it down to see the top, just like in real life, as if you had a physical paper in front of you.

  • Fredrik Jackson

    Too late. I’m used to the new scrolling now.

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  • Gburdis

    I updated to Lion and left the computer. Came back next day and the mouse was reversed – didn’t realise it was Lion! Taken me a week to fix – I use a Microsoft mouse that is the same for my laptop and work PC (Yes I’m bilingual – Mac and PC) and when it is a non Apple mouse it only shows a basic mouse setup that doesn’t include the natural scrolling option. I then connected an Apple scroll mouse then the settings for scroll showed up in Mouse System Preferences, so I changed it, replugged in the other mouse and presto! all fine.

  • Guesty

    Ha, I have no such options under mouse or trackpad so looks like I’m going to have to get used to this new scroll system. Doesn’t seem “natural” to me yet, but I’m willing to withhold my doubts and give it a shot. 

    • Shawball32

      Hook up your Apple mouse just to make the adjustment.  These said options appear with Apple mouse connected.  The new (old) scrolling stays when you unhook Apple mouse.  I just did this.

  • paul

    Helpful article! I can’t access this menu however because I have a microsoft mouse, and the checkbox does not appear under the Mouse or Trackpad settings, since I have no apple mouse or trackpad! help. very annoying of apple computer to do this.

    • Shawball32

      Hook up your Apple mouse just to make the adjustment.  These said options appear with Apple mouse connected.  The new (old) scrolling stays when you unhook Apple mouse.  I just did this.

  • Spam

    The problem arises when you are using different computers at work and at home… one uses the natural and the other using the finger direction.. and soon you get all confused about which is which. So I disabled the new way in Lion.

    • James Zeman

    • Tv Tech Owl

      Yup… I got used to the new scrolling on my 3-day weekend and then went to work and got all confused on the Windows machine… so back to the old way… 

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  • Only a Little Annoyed

    It’s no problem getting used to it. However, it’s a real pain when your secondary box is still on Snow Leopard and sits on the same desk.

  • Much better, thx 🙂

  • Thank you, that helps!

  • Shawball32

    If you have Microsoft mouse……Hook up your Apple mouse just to make the adjustment.  These said options appear with Apple mouse connected.  The new (old) scrolling stays when you unhook Apple mouse.  

  • My mouse screen does not show any of those check boxes.  Instead it has the classic options.  Now what?

  • Thank goodness for this post. I was going crazy with all that reverse scrolling.

  • Stevejobs

    system preference > mouse …..i have a totally different window 🙁   wth

  • John

    Brilliant decision on Apple’s part to give people a choice.
    Idiotic decision to change the “default behavior.

  • Frank

    Thank You. I thought I was going [more] nuts.  I’m new to Mac and find myself switching  back and forth between win (.net) and mac (iOS) almost constantly now.  So far that was my one big complaint about the mac (that and the window button ontrols being on the left side).  Viva la difference

  • natural they say….

  • Tj10564_98

    This has nothing to do with improvement, just Apple being Apple and needing to distance themselves from other OS’s like Windows and Linux

  • Ken-smith

    Thought it was a factory defect, thanks.

  • DPO

    I have an iMac OS X 10.7.3 that was updated 3 days ago. Since then my Magic Mouse does not recognize vertical nor horizontal scrolling. Clicking and moving works fine. System Preferences > Mouse > Set-up a blue tooth mouse does not find the mouse, still moving and clicking works. Anybody an idea? Would appreciate.

  • New Mac user

    Back to the norm I’ve accustomed myself to over the last decade or so of scrolling my pages.

  • Jtk

    Try Scroll reverser. You can keep the trackpad as “Natural” but have the mouse to scroll the old way! 

  • Catcii


  • Jimbo

    Thank you 1000 times….evan MORE!  This was driving me crazy as I returned from a trip after changing to Lion in the midnight moments before leaving.  I can’t adapt that easily to Apple’s quirks of thinking they are smarter than me…lol!  I am still working on those ipads cemented to the table tops in the stores where they interfere with mouse movement while doing one to one’s.  That is not as easy as was THIS!    🙂


  • Drewgeneczko

    i can’t find it in my settings

  • Albert Godfrind

    Even though my brain can get adjusted to the new scrolling, my hand refuses to do so. I switched back to the old scrolling …

    Thanks for the tip.

    • Albert Godfrind

      Actually not so easy. The “Move content …” in the mouse setting also controls the “Scroll direction Natural” setting for the trackpad. So now my mouse scrolling works the way my hand was taught … but the pad scrolling works the opposite way too and that feels REALLY weird. 

      I will switch back to the original settings and teach my mouse hand the new way …

  • Ted Davis

    Apple….LOL…Just has to try any retarded thing they can to be different. Even at the cost of sticking to what makes the most sense. Pitiful

  • PerverTT

    Thank you for this tip. I’ve just moved from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion and finding the transition rather difficult. Apple should realise that habits of a lifetime, like mouse scrolling, do not change overnight with an OS “upgrade.” God knows what is “natural” to Lion’s developers.

  • Walenski

    “Not for everyone”, you are so diplomatic. It’s a tech-tarded flub of epic idiocy.

  • Anon

    It’s now in Settings > Trackpad > Scroll & Zoom

  • Scott Junner

    Thank you. That’s much better.

  • Drew

    Nope, absolutely hate it! Down should be down. Up should be up. Period. They over-thought this and tried to justify by naming it “natural” when in reality, it’s not. This isn’t literal fucking scroll paper we’re dealing with here, it’s a COMPUTER.

  • Troy

    Thank you for the guidance! I went to System Preferences > Mouse > but couldn’t locate “Scroll Direction” but did notice that there is a toggle box that was checked that said, “Move content in direction of finger movement when scrolling or navigating”. I unchecked the box and now my wireless mouse scrolls in the right directions. Thanks again!

  • John Ten

    mine isn’t natural at all, when i scroll down i scroll up. i de-checked “natural scrolling” now I’m back to the REAL natural. 🙂

  • aj d

    that is moronic. there is nothing “natural” about that. What is wrong with software people. Mice have scrolled this way for decades now. Only a bafoon would think of changing it. And it makes life very difficult for those of us who switch between platforms and OS’s at work and such.

  • Jim

    Scroll function only operates down. I have to use toe sidebar to move back up the page. “Natural” function seems not to affect my problem.

  • kris

    omg, thank you! i was about to pitch it! i work with a ton of computer mice and our other computer is a pc…and they all do the old school. it was frustrating to discover this update.


Cormac Moylan

Cormac is the head honcho behind MacTrast. Based in Cork, Ireland, his first foray into the Apple world was way back in 2006 when he purchased an iMac followed by a Macbook around 4 weeks later. He currently owns a Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, iPhone 4, iPod Touch, and Apple TV. But he prefers to buy watches. Go figure!