iPad interface quirk: scrolling frames lack scrollbars

The other day, my friend Geoff reported an iPad fail: an inability to scroll within a frame for a hotel login page, and similarly an inability to scroll in a Google Reader frame.

Geoff’s as expert as they come, with computers in general and with Apple products too. He waited in line to get his iPad. But he couldn’t figure out how to scroll these frames: scrolling by dragging a finger just scrolled the overall page, not the frame.

The solution is simple: scroll with two fingers in parallel, within the frame.

This is actually documented in the iPad user guide, which is bookmarked in Safari on iPad. One of the perils of a device this easy to use is that nobody reads the manual!

The interface is still quirky: no visible scroll bars even suggest that content overflows the frame. This does save screen real estate, precious on a 9.7″ screen. But it can definitely lead to overlooking content, if you don’t know that there even is anything to scroll.

49 thoughts on “iPad interface quirk: scrolling frames lack scrollbars

  1. Have you tried two finger scrolling for a PDF file contained in a frame? It doesn’t seem to work. Any thoughts?

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    • yes, you are right.. it does not work for me either. i m a student of Australian Catholic University and my lecture notes on my uni website are pretty similar to what you have explained, pdfs inside frames. and i can only read that section what appears on the screen. rest of the notes is scissor-cut. two finger scrolling doesnt help… but is there any other solution? i will not be able to read my lecture notes then… 😦

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      • Not sure if this is still an issue with anyone – I couldn’t scroll down on the pdf files (is Safari on my IPAD) that my college teacher posted – I would tap the pdf file listed to open it and COULD NOT SCROLL DOWN. I found that if I touch and hold until a pop-up appears and select OPEN IN NEW TAB – It opens in another window and I am able to scroll – I even get a page number/count appear in the upper left corner of the screen! YEAH!!

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    • If anyone ever figures this out, I’ll buy an ipad. It’s a dealbreaker for me because I have a work related function that requires my constant use of .pdfs in a frame and it just doesn’t work!

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  2. I tried the parallel finger scrolling and it worked for horizontal scrolling in the application I am using, but what about vertical scrolling (within a frame)?

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  3. It actually works, land two fingers in the frame hold for 2 sec, then start to scroll up or down with one finger. The other finger hold still. It is not easy to use, I tried for 5minute to get use to it. For very small frame you need to zoom in to do it.

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  4. It does work with other sites, I don’t know about PDF, but for example, within Facebook frames the two-finger scroll works, one finger does not.

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  5. PS: I need to remember this thread; apparently I am working on the same thing.

    I haven’t fully gotten the concept yet; but this thread explains it best.

    Here’s a page that works (they seem to all do so): http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#samplecode/UICatalog/Introduction/Intro.html –> on the ipad, scrolling correctly. Correct me if I’m wrong? …. I am trying to mirror a local copy of the functionality now (and got it in Firefox, but turns out it actually *doesn’t* work yet on the iPad [of my personal local functionality mirroring attempt] [yet])

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  6. Well I suppose reading the manual would have helped! Just tried it and it totally worked, couldn’t be simpler than using two finger to touch and scroll instead of one.

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  7. The two finger scrolls works in some frames – other not so far. I know the action works but not in all places. I got this for my real estate to show properties on the go. It works for lists but not detail pages. There is another way to view the detail in the program so I’m using that as a work around for now. Testing other functions to be sure I can use it for work or it’s going back.

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  8. Omg, Finally! I’ve been avoiding so many sites because of this until now… ThankYou. It feels amazing

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  9. Hi,

    I can scroll with 2 fingers within an EXTJS panel but I don’t think that the users will know that scolling is possible i.e. that there is more content to see.

    Does anyone know how to get the scrollbars to appear as a visual key.

    If it is not possible I am thinking maybe to display some semi transparent arrows at the bottom of the scoll area to make it apparent that there is more to see.. any thoughts on this approach?

    Jonathan Carter

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  10. Well, it doesn’t work for me. The most annoying thing is EMAILS!!!! there seems NO way to scroll up and check your text at all. The ipad is quite invaluable to me to keep in touch on the move, but emailing is ghastly because of this and I always compose on the notepad first and copy and paste. Very annoying. A big shortcoming on an otherwise BRILLIANT device!

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  11. Yesssssss I can scroll! Thanks so much, I was getting so frustrated and had to read a pane that was crucial. Thanks for taking them time to write this post 🙂

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  12. hi, i tried and tried and m still trying but cannot do it. I have heaps of lecture notes to read and i cannot do it. could u please tell me which section of the manual describes it? or is there any video link on youtube or anywhere on the internet? i really need this… any help will be much appreciated… thanx a lot

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  13. Your solution doesn’t actually work for me. The problem is that it will begin to scroll and it moves about a quarter of an inch and stops, at which point I can no longer scroll back to the original pane.

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  14. I use it for school and had the same problem with scrolling. In the bottom left corner you should see a button that says PDA click that and it will change and you can scroll

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    • I love these designs, so pohlsied and refined. The organization of elements and fleshing out of details has really taken it to another level too, great work!I like the look of the first one, because I like how the food really pops off the dark color; it shows it off well and may help the task be less of a chore and more of a pleasure. For the organization and functionality, I prefer the last one the best. The first one’s menu bar looks cool and fun, with the scrolling up/down slot machine sort of feel, but I think in actual use it would be more convenient for people to see multiple options of the same category all at once. Like, if I know my favorite dish is always on Tuesdays, I don’t want to have to click 10 times to get through the other entrees to get to it. I’d rather have it all laid out right there. And laying it out in a line might help with comparison more—you can see Oh there’s my favorite pizza, but having that veggie lasagna instead would meet my craving for cheese and still meet my calorie count. (Maybe that’s a bad example, but you get the idea.) If you’re scrolling through entrees one at a time you also may forget what the first options at the beginning were. On the last design I also like the way the entrees/desserts/drinks etc. tabs are aligned top to bottom, in line with the menu bar; I think that equates more with being changeable menu bar options.??? ()

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    • Thanks Robbie, suggestion worked perfectly. I can’t believe how easy it is now scrolling using PDA pad after all these months, I mean months. You are a life safer. Now I can study more easily.

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  15. Im havin the same problem with my university pages, there is no PDA button on my page and two finger scroll doesn’t work either. the reason I bought the iPad and now I can’t access my lecture notes, this is driving me crazy- is there an app to make the PDF screen visible?

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    • I have had this same problem for a long time and have finally found a working solution.

      Opera browser is free and instead of making the PDF imbedded, it puts a link which you can click to open the full document. Another option, it seems to work fine in browsers that support flash, they cost a few $ but its useful to have.

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  16. Nope i read all these comments and it still does not work for me… when i do the *hold two fingers for 2 seconds and only move one* it just zooms. PLEASE HELP i need to read my lectures.

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  17. My iPad scrolled fine until aol changed their format recently. The two finger thing doesn’t work! Is it the iPad or aol?

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  18. “Opera browser is free and instead of making the PDF imbedded, it puts a link which you can click to open the full document” ~ Athy

    I’ll have to try this one when I get home.

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