Great Wacom Tablet Scrolling Software For Mac OS X: Smart Scroll X

Smart Scroll X iconIn some previous posts, I rambled on about the ability to scroll, one-handed, using the Wacom software, and a shareware alternative, Smart Scroll X. I also touched on this a bit in my Wacom Intuos graphics tablets review.
I am very pleased to report that the developer of Smart Scroll X has worked out the issues with Camino and NetNewsWire. The newly introduced scrolling feature in the Wacom tablet driver software is very cool, and should be more than sufficient for most users. Smart Scroll X fills a gap that the more nerdy of us may appreciate. And I think this is the proper situation for a shareware app – to extend functionality.

Smart Scroll X will work without a Wacom tablet – it’s basic functionality is to enhance the scrolling behavior in OS X, making it more fluid. It gives a bit of that iPhone style scrolling to OS X. You can modify the speed and the coasting, and there is also the functionality of assigning system- and software-wide scroll keys so you don’t have to learn different keyboard shortcuts to scroll for every single application.

I picked up a license for this software primarily for the enhanced Grab Scroll functionality when using the Wacom tablet. I assigned one of the pen buttons to Grab Scroll, and also set up the recent feature to invert the X and Y axis for scrolling. Inverting the X and Y axis gives you the same effect you get when scrolling using a mouse ball/wheel – grab-scrolling down moves the page up (it makes more sense when you actually use it).

A big difference from the Wacom feature and Smart Scroll X is the fact that the Wacom feature requires you to actually make a click and then drag on the tablet, while Smart Scroll X allows the drag to be a hover drag. And of course the speed customization and the coasting feature.

All in all, Smart Scroll X is not a must-have now that Wacom has included a basic version of this feature in the driver software, but for those out there who want greater control and customization, Smart Scroll X is a solid shareware choice and to date has been working rock-solid on both my PPC G4 as well as my Intel MacBook.

4 thoughts on “Great Wacom Tablet Scrolling Software For Mac OS X: Smart Scroll X

  1. I use a Wacom tablet on OS X as a more ergonomically friendly alternative to the mouse — if I use the pen tip for clicking, then I never need to use small finger movements to click, and I can hold my hand rotated at a more natural angle than I can with a mouse. Nearly ideal ergonomics, but … no scroll wheel! And I really like a scroll wheel, since I read a lot of web pages and PDFs, and it’s always fiddly to have to use the scroll bar.

    So I came up with a nifty workaround. I know it’s possible to use Smart Scroll X or the new Wacom software to drag-scroll using a side button on the pen, but I find it’s ergonomically weird to click those buttons a lot (I have friends who gave up on Wacom tablets because they were getting new forms of RSI from the buttons). Instead, I wrote a special program (really just a few lines of code), that reinterprets the eraser end of the pen as a button number 5. Then I use Smart Scroll X and tell it to do a grab-scroll whenever I use button number 5. The result — amazing, intuitive, inertial scrolling, just by dragging the eraser anywhere in the window! It’s super-friendly to the wrist, and makes the interaction with the page much more natural and “real” than anything else I’ve tried.

    I haven’t polished up the button-5 code much (I’d like to add a preference panel and get it to act like a left mouse button when I move windows, use menus, click on links, etc.), but I could put it out there if there’s interest.

  2. Mattias,

    This sounds pretty sweet, and I would love to give it a test run once you have the code polished up.

    I am curious how the left-button mode you speak of would work – assuming that if you weren’t in a scrollable area, it would just work as a normal left click? That might be really cool.

    Have you thought about contacting the developer of Smart Scroll X about this?

    Thanks for the feedback, this sounds promising and as I mentioned I’d love to try it out.

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