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Disable the overlay scrollbars in Ubuntu Natty

The overlay scrollbars in Ubuntu Natty are a tell to how much the OS has been redesigned with touch and smaller screen sizes in mind. These overlay sidebars replace the traditional scrollbars with a thin line which indicates scroll position, and the actual scrollbar appears when you move your mouse near the indicator bar.

Overlay scrollbar inactive

Overlay scrollbar inactive

Overlay scrollbar active

Unfortunately these scrollbars can be quirky (they only appear when approached from the left (vertical) or from above (horizontal), and depending on the window size and position, it can be touchy to grab them. Also, there are applications that have very poor support for the overlay scroll bars, such as the GIMP font selection. That dialog frustrated me to no end a few days ago. Apparently the overlay scrollbar isn’t handled well, and any attempt to click the scroll bar causes it to disappear and the click passes right through it.

Fortunately, the overlay scrollbars are based on libraries and can be removed without issue. Applications start using normal scrollbars once the overlay libraries are removed.

You can either remove the libraries via Synaptic or in a terminal using the following command:

sudo apt-get remove overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar-*

Update: Mr.Goose pointed out that you need to use liboverlay-scrollbar-0.2-0 with Oneiric.

Update 2: It’s now overlay-scrollbar* as seen in Ubuntu 13.04

No reboot is required. Though you will have to close and re-open applications to notice the change.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that the packages would be pulled in as dependencies during an update. If they are, simply remove them again.

I’m happy to have normal scrollbars again :)

Normal scrollbars

If you decide later you want the overlay scrollbars back, simply reinstall the libraries:

sudo apt-get install overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar-0.1-0

Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome.

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