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Which type of sliders is easier to use: horizontal or vertical?

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Still not sure whether you were asking about scroll bars or sliders for adjusting stuff, but since the discussion turned mostly to scroll bars, here's an example of a horizontal one that seems to work fine: wonderwall.msn.com –  Dan Barak Aug 20 '10 at 14:07
    
That UI to me is rather slow, choppy, and unresponsive. Plus, using the mouse wheel to scroll left/right seems unintuitive, and it only moves a few pixels. I find myself vigorously scrolling my mouse wheel to get any sort of feedback on that UI. –  user708 Aug 20 '10 at 14:53
    
i'm concerned with the sliders and not with the scroll bars. i want to know, which type of slider(horizontal/vertical) will require minimum physical effort. Is there any study on this. Dan, yet to go thr ur link. –  rajkamal Aug 25 '10 at 6:33

4 Answers 4

If we study scrollbars only, the vast majority of mouses support vertical scrolling directly via the mouse wheel. Usually there's no easy way to scroll horizontally.

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Some applications, however, supports horizontal scrolling via the mouse key when masked with the shift key. This should be more widely supported, IMHO. –  jensgram Aug 20 '10 at 7:18
    
Couldn't agree more! Maybe even adding OS support would do it. Ok, the learnability of key modifiers isn't great, but it's better than nothing. –  Jawa Aug 20 '10 at 12:55
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I think to find a better example you need only look at any keyboard created in the last 20 years... Page Down, Page Up –  Evan Carroll Aug 26 '10 at 5:36

Depends on the use case. In general, a horizontal slider is used for adjusting a property of something, and a vertical slider (in the context of a scrollbar) is used for scrolling the view of your application.

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I say, it certainly depends on what the slider is intended to do ... and how often, not least.

Vertical sliders cater to the use of the scroll wheel on the mouse. This has the benefit on quick, easy, and intuitive interaction, although some amount of precision is typically lost.

Horizontal sliders, on the other hand, are commonly (cf. mariocatch's answers) used for adjusting properties. The advantage is the possibility of a high control density (a vertical slider - and it's label - can consume the entire screen width and still only require the equivalent of a single line of text).

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If you're talking about sliders per se, and not scroll bars, then to the best of my knowledge the vertical motion is somewhat physically easier. You're just contracting your fingers, in the most natural way there is, like you're grabbing something or making a fist. The movement of the wrist left and right is "less natural", if you could call it that. The wrist is built to move primarily on the axis that goes down (where the palm faces) and up - even in a common person it has a range of about 180 degrees, while its range sideways (in the direction of the thumb/pinkie) is much more restricted and uncomfortable - about 90 degrees total. In addition, the contracting fingers move the vertical slider strictly on the vertical axis, while the sideways motion of the wrist doesn't take place on the horizontal axis, but describes an arch -- unless you're moving your whole forearm.

That being said, usually horizontal sliders aren't as long as to make the difference felt, and you can compensate for the arched motion of the wrist by using the fingers. I don't think there's a meaningful difference in everyday usage.

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