The Contacts view on iOS consists of a Quick search filter field, the contact list itself and an annotated scrolllbar that lets people jump directly to specific letters.

To me the annotated scrollbar is redundant. If I enter a letter in the search field the list is filtered and only show the contacts that contains that letter which is the same as if I click on the letter in the annotated scrollbar. To me the search field is superior when I want to find a specific contact.

What are the use cases for using both an search field and an annotated scrollbar?

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  • "To me the search field is superior when I want to find a specific contact." That might be your answer. To you the search field is preferable, but others may prefer to scroll.
    – JonW
    Jan 20, 2014 at 15:13
  • Yes, perhaps it's that simple. Jan 20, 2014 at 15:15
  • 2
    Think of the following user journey "I'll give Steve a ring. Now, did I file him under 'Steve' or under his nickname 'Loco'...?" It'd be much easier to find him if you could dart between 'S' and 'L' (and whatever else you have him under) via scrollbar than having to open the keypad, search for a letter, hit enter, close keyboard....
    – JonW
    Jan 20, 2014 at 15:21

2 Answers 2



Tog already replied to a similar question at Ask Tog.

I agree with JonW. Although this might seem redundant, it supports browsing and searching in a graceful way, without getting in the way.

Another interesting side effect is that it provides a better way to browse than an scroll bar would. Instead of having to scroll until you find a visual cue of what you are looking for, it gives you the visual cue first (letter 'J'), and you can jump directly to it.


If you are able to implement interactions that support finding and browsing this seamlessly, and without getting in the way, do it! Some of your users might prefer browsing, others might prefer finding. Furthermore the preference will depend on the use case they want to accomplish.


Searching is only practical with a large number of contacts. Scrolling is more practical with a small number of contacts. To facilitate the middle ground where you might only have a small number of contacts, but too many to look at each name to figure out which letter you're on there's this rolodex style annotated scrollbar.

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