Circular Scrolling

While playing with my xorg.conf file I accidentally turned off the scrolling area of my trackpad. Normally, if you put your finger at the right hand side of the trackpad, you can scroll up and down. If you put your finger at the bottom of the pad, you can scroll left or right.

In figuring out how to resolve the issue I discovered something deeply awesome. Circular scrolling. Now, starting from any side of the pad, I can move my finger clockwise round the trackpad to scroll down, anti-clockwise to scroll up. Just like the iPod. It’s outstanding on long documents where even a scroll wheel becomes tiring.

Gotta love linux baby!

For the techies, here’s the relevant section of my xorg.conf (see man synaptics for more info):

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Synaptics Touchpad"
Driver "synaptics"
Option "SendCoreEvents" "true"
Option "Device" "/dev/input/mice"
Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
Option "CircularScrolling" "1"
Option "Emulate3Buttons" "true"
Option "SHMConfig" "true"
EndSection

I also discovered another great application synclient which allows you to change the touchpad settings on the fly. It also allows you to monitor touchpad input with the -m flag. It’s great to test your settings and figure out what works before committing the changes to xorg.conf.

Update at 4 May 2010: On Ubuntu 9.04 and later this is no longer relevant. Instead enable SHMConfig through hal, see this for more info, and then install gsynaptic.

7 thoughts on “Circular Scrolling”

  1. I ‘googled’ circular scrolling (after getting SHMConfig set and being able to use the ‘touchpad’ config control) and found your article.
    I tried it, based on your recommendation.
    I love it!

    (using Linux Mint 4.0, it was not configured by default even though it was visible under /proc/bus/input/devices)

  2. Wow, this is truly awesome!!! I saw the circular scrolling option in the menu, but didn’t know how to use it..

    Thanks for the info! Gonna use it a lot, it makes my EEEpc even cuter xD

  3. That feature can also be configured by way of gsynaptics. Gives you the option to start scrolling all around or just at a specific corner or edge. And I agree with you, it _is_ awesome.

  4. @Thomas: Cool, thanks for the tip. Gsynaptics looks interesting, although it doesn’t seem very sophisticated.

    For example, I have the vertical, horizontal, and circular scrolling options ticked. But only circular scrolling works. No horizontal scroll. I’m not sure if you can use them both at once.

  5. Wow – that’s excellent! I had it switched on, but hadn’t worked out how to use it… So much better than the default scrolling on my Acer Aspire One!

  6. you’re right. this is deeply awesome. although i sometimes find myself accidentally scrolling.

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