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What is a Scrollbar?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The scrollbar has long been a fixture in many electronic programs. This object allows individuals to interact with a technology-based device such as a computer with increased ease and convenience. Electronically scrolling or scanning through a program or document is the main task of the scrollbar.

A widespread technological system known as graphical user interface (GUI) utilizes scrollbars as one of its features. GUI helps individuals control the content on computers or similar devices through the use of a small pointing object like a computer mouse that connects to or is installed in the device. This object manifests as a graphic like a line or finger on the electronic screen. The movable graphic can then interact with other graphic objects presented on the screen and thus perform actions. Such objects used to manipulate or control information are known as widgets, and the scrollbar is one example.

In a typical computer program, a scroll bar often appears as a long bar-like structure at the side or the bottom of a screen. The bar typically contains arrows at both ends. Inside the bar is a smaller bar that monitors how far an individual is from the end of a document. A scrollbar may also contain additional arrows or similar graphics. The general appearance of scrollbars may vary by programs, and some programs even allow individuals to alter the scrollbar’s aesthetic appearance.

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When an individual uses a pointing graphic to press the arrows on scrollbars, this action allows an individual to scroll through a document either forward or backward. A horizontal scrollbar facilitates scrolling or scanning a document from left to right or right to left. Users may also scroll through a document by pressing and holding down the smaller bar of the scrollbar and dragging it up or down.

Since most electronic screens are relatively small, they cannot contain a document’s entire contents. Scrollbars thus offer access to the whole of an electronic document. If the scrollbar contains additional squares of arrows or other objects, these graphics are usually present so that a user may reach the beginning or end of a document more quickly. Since scrollbars are used to move through a document, they diverge from a similar-looking object called a slider. The latter is chiefly utilized for changing number values in a document.

Scrollbars are found in many electronic outlets. Computer software ranging from word processing programs to games often have a scrollbar as a prominent feature. Similarly, most Internet navigation systems boast scrollbars to ensure that visiting websites is easier. Mobile phones, some calculators, and media players such as digital video recorders and digital music players also may contain scrollbars. Therefore, many types of content are guided by an electronic scrollbar, including text, pictures, and video.

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