In previous versions of iOS, you may have noticed a scroll bar on the right side of the screen while scrolling through content on an iPhone or iPad. Alas, unlike the scroll bars on the Mac, it didn’t do much more than indicate your position and the amount of content on the page. (The larger the scroller—the gray bar that Apple used to call the elevator box in macOS—the less content on the page.) But in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple has finally made the scroll bar useful.
When you see the scroller—you may have to scroll a bit to make it appear—touch and hold it. It’s a bit tricky because it disappears a second or two after you stop scrolling. And even if you are fast, the scroller is a small target for a large finger. After pressing it for a second, it will enlarge, and you might feel a “click” on a recent iPhone. While keeping your finger on the scroller, move it up and down to zip quickly through the page.
Of course, nothing prevents you from using the traditional method of scrolling in iOS—by swiping up or down on the page—but the scroll bar makes it much easier to scroll long distances with minimal effort. It can take ages to swipe, swipe, swipe to the top or bottom of a long page, whereas dragging the scroller lets you jump to any position nearly instantly.
Here’s a short video showing how scrolling with the scroll bar works.
Interestingly, scrolling by dragging the scroller works just like clicking and dragging it does on the Mac, but is the reverse of the so-called “natural” scrolling that Apple introduced with iOS and later in macOS. With “natural” scrolling, you swipe up on a page to scroll down, or down on a page to scroll up, whereas you drag the scroller down to scroll down and drag it up to scroll up.
Since this new scroll bar behavior is system-wide, lots of apps can take advantage of it. Use it in Safari to scroll through long Web pages and in Mail to navigate interminable email messages. In the Twitter app, it can help you get around in your timeline, and it’s particularly useful if you need to edit a lengthy document in Pages. Notably, the Google Docs app does not support the system-wide scroll bar because Google provides its own enhanced scroller that lets you jump quickly to headings as well. But give it a try now so you have a chance of remembering it the next time you want to scroll through a long page.