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Apple leaks new scroll bar UI details in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Still a work in progress

In addition to the new Mac App Store, Federighi's demonstration also revealed the new scroll bar behavior in less exciting apps, including Dictionary, which he briefly opened up while showing LaunchPad. Dictionary opened with the same new tiny, trackless iOS-like grey scroll bar that then disappeared after a moment.

iPhoto 11 also launched with no visible scroll bar, despite having more than a single window of content. When taken full screen, the app continued to have no visible scroll bar. The existing version of iPhoto running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard always reserves a column for the scroll bar, even when there's no need for one (below). Safari and iCal also both appeared without scroll bars in the demo.

Mac OS X Lion scroll bars

At the same time, while apps such as Pages are depicted in the Mission Control artwork (above) without using a scroll bar, the app was demonstrated on screen by Federighi with a bright blue Aqua style scroll bar visible at all times. This is probably because Pages hasn't yet been updated to the new Lion look and feel as other bundled apps (and the recently revised iPhoto 11) have. iTunes 11 was also portrayed with its current, custom grey scroll bar.

Mac OS X Lion scroll bars

The beta version of FaceTime for Mac that Apple released to Snow Leopard users makes a half-step in this direction, presenting a non-standard, dark colored scroll bar that gets a slight highlight when the user mouses over it. However, its scroll bar never completely disappears as it does in the desktop Lion apps, or in today's iOS apps.

The disappearance of scroll bars when not in use follows Apple's history of experiments with getting rid of other window elements, notably the title bar. In Snow Leopard's QuickTime X, the title bar of the video-playing window vanishes to reveal a larger playback area, and then reappears when the user mouses over.

The new FaceTime app also has a vanishing title bar in the same shiny black finish as QuickTime X, although it only disappears during an actual call. That app is still in beta, so its user interface is still a work in progress. Its security model is also rough around the edges, initially presenting all of the signed-in user's MobileMe account information before the oversight was noticed and Apple began to block users from accessing their account details from within the app.