iPhone scrolling tip

If you’re an iPhone owner, you’ve probably encountered a problem with scrolling. For the most part it’s very intuitive, but there are occasions where you can’t get to what you want. The problem is that there aren’t any traditional scroll bars, so it seems like you are stuck. Even very smart engineers who know a lot about mobile computing are having problems.

Here are a couple of situations I’ve encountered:

  • While editing in a text area with a lot of text. You probably have resorted to using the insertion point to (slowly) reposition the text.
  • On a web page has content displayed using the CSS scroll:auto property. You’re stuck looking at the top of a <div> and can’t get to the lower part of the content.

Fortunately there is a very simple, yet unintuitive, solution for both of these situations. Use two fingers to scroll the content.

Flicking doesn’t work, but it’s better than nothing. I certainly wouldn’t design an interface around this “feature” due to its lack of discoverability—just use it as a workaround to deal with existing sites. And considering that people are submitting bug reports about scrolling not working, it looks like Apple has some work left to do with this “scroll within a scroll” gesture.

Credit for finding this trick goes to Matthew Krivanek on the iPhoneWebDev mailing list. I found his post while looking for solutions to the fixed positioning problem in MobileSafari.