I mean this as a concrete question about what configuration is becoming standard, not a place for opinions about which feels better.

The question is about what direction the screen scrolls, up or down, when a user does a "scroll" on their trackpad by using a two-finger gesture DOWNWARD. (For now ignore the question of that "right edge of the trackpad zone" that is sometimes used for up/down scrolling.)

(1) When I first learned trackpad gestures on a mac, a two-finger swipe downward on the trackpad scrolled the page so that the entire page slid downward (therefore bringing into view the higher-up content of the page that had been out of view.)

(2) But now I have a new samsung windows 7 laptop, and it is running a trackpad and driver called ELAN Smart-pad. On this, a two-finger swipe downward on the trackpad does the opposite. It scrolls the page so that it slides upward (bringing into view lower down content of the page that had been out of view.) [I think the designers might have decided that this would echo the motion that you make on a mouse click-wheel, which has always had its scrolling work in that manner. And I think the clickwheel up-down behavior has never been controversial or switchable. But I do not of course think that the trackpad must mirror that motion.]

Frankly, I believe method (1) is better. But I realize that I can train myself to get used to either, and I wanted to get on the right method now and just take the steps to configure my devices consistently, rather than swim back and forth in confusion.

The question: Is one of these standards "winning" or part of a more respected method?

  • another fact that I will leave out of the question, that also created confusion, is that when I bought an apple "magic mouse," they decided to make the sensor on the top of the mouse act like a trackpad rather than a click-wheel, with regards to the motions (1) and (2) I describe above. They made it be a (1). I love (1) but I think that the top of the magic mouse is not a trackpad... it's more like a clickwheel. so I got an extension to reverse it. Mar 16, 2013 at 1:23

2 Answers 2


Most older systems (such as Windows 7 and earlier, Mac OS X 10.6 and earlier) the conceptual model for touch pad scrolling was that dragging two fingers (or "dragging" the mouse wheel) was mapped to dragging the scroll bar, hence the window content moved in the opposite direction of the fingers. This was the opposite of the (fairly new) touch screen UIs in which dragging with a finger moved contents in the same direction of the drag.

I think it was 2011 that Apple's OS X 10.7 reversed this so it's desktop/laptop systems would behave more similarly to it's iOS devices (quite jarring for a few days to get used to it though).

Windows 8 has followed this new convention in that content moves with the fingers.

It's clear that this newer model of fingers-moving-the-content is the dominant trend.

  • great info. I didn't know that windows 8 had cast its lot with the method that I was used to. If windows 8 and the mac both agree, that to me is a pretty strong answer to this question. It seems that therefore my goal is to find an extension, plug-in, or app for Windows 7 that allows me to reverse the touch-pad method used by ELAN touch-pad on my laptop... so it is in sync with where things are headed. Mar 17, 2013 at 8:37

I can't say which is 'winning' because that's hard to define.

But the trend is clear that touch pads are starting to emulate the interaction you'd have on a touch device. Since touch devices certainly 'winning', I think that trend is only going to continue.

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