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Momentum / Smooth Scrolling Problems in Windows 10/11

Scrolling with a touchpad seem to be effectively broken in Windows 10 on new laptops. The behavior is largely inconsistent and frustrating to users..

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By. Jacob

Edited: 2022-01-17 09:07

There is one thing I find absolutely horrendously annoying in Windows 10/11, that is the fact that touchpad scroll settings is either missing or lacking, and configured incorrectly. When using the two-finger scroll gesture, it seem to either scroll too fast, too slow, or it continues scrolling even after you lift your fingers from the touchpad, which is massively annoying.

I am not entirely sure what causes it, but my older laptop did not seem to have this issue. I recently got a Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 (AMD edition), which apparently has something called a "precision touchpad". Perhaps that is the issue?

Note. Also known as Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 14ARE05

I tried installing the Lenovo provided driver for the touchpad, and even though it installed successfully and the device appeared to be working in device manager, it was not working (pointer did not even show up on screen), and I had to revert back to the old Microsoft provided driver, which shows up as a HID-compliant mouse in device manager.

The default configuration for scroll speed and scroll behavior is just messed up. I am not entirely sure what is wrong, but it just feels retarded and extremely slow, like something is "fighting against" my scroll movements.

I think it has to do with some newer laptops having a "precision touchpad". When I go to the touchpad settings in Windows, it tells me at the top:

This PC has a Precision Touchpad

Small problem: Precision Touchpads are apparently not so precise.

I think it has to do with Windows' Smooth Scrolling, or momentum scrolling, AKA: kinetic scrolling or inertial scrolling.

The problem may be worsened because different apps might implement different scroll behavior. In my opinion, apps or programs should not be allowed to override OS-wide default scroll behavior. It is one of the most annoying things thinkable.

Windows does not offer a nice way to change Touchpad scroll behavior; the settings are extremely limited. Windows is not alone in this — Linux also has limited scroll settings, but at least kUbuntu seem to have more sane default values for my system, and of course, you might be able to adjust scroll speed by other means in Linux if you really need to.

Changing the registry to fix scroll issues

In Windows, I found out I could improve the situation a little by changing some Registry Keys, but admittedly, I had to guess and experiment. Considering these keys are filed under Touch specifically, I figure they should be fairly safe to change.

Note. This is not entirely correct; setting a friction value that is "too high" seem to prevent the Start Menu from opening, which is weird, since that should not have anything to do with scroll friction!

The specific keys are found in: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Wisp\Touch

This location held a few relevant keys on my system:

  1. Bouncing - default value 1
  2. Friction - default value 32
  3. Inertia - default value 1

Values must be between 0 and 64.

Setting Friction to 1 improved things a little for me, but the momentum scroll is still a problem.

Presumably, Inertia is the same as momentum scroll, so I tried disabling this by setting it to 0, but it did not seem to have any effect.

I am not sure what Bouncing does, since it does not seem to have an effect; but I presume it is the same as the "bounce" effect you see in Edge when "over-scrolling" — this is also known as Elastic Overscroll, and it should be disabled because it is just annoying on desktop systems.

There are a few other settings as well, such as TouchMode_Hold, TouchModeN_DtapDist and TouchModeN_DtapTime but I do not think those do anything for scroll; at least they do not appear to have any influence when changed. A couple of others I deduced to have something to do with animation from their names, and therefor they, also, are probably not relevant.

This problem seem to be influenced by several different settings in Windows and installed programs. For example, if you change the scroll behavior in Mouse Settings of Windows, it does not seem to have an effect in Google Chrome, but it does effect scrolling in Notepad.

Note. If you change the registry keys you may also need to restart your computer before the changes take effect.

Notepad

I use Notepad or basic text editing a lot, so of course I will notice.

While the scroll behavior is closer to what I want in notepad, it still suffers from the same momentum scroll issues, and the problem is just made worse because Notepad does not have smooth scroll enabled. Plus. It also "fights against" my scrolling, like I have to scroll too far before it even scrolls one step!

It gets more confusing, because you also have to restart the program (I.e. Notepad) for the new settings to take effect, and there is nothing informing you about this in the mouse settings in Windows. That is not to mention the fact that mouse and touchpad settings should be kept separately, because someone might actually want to configure their mouse slightly differently!

Microsoft Edge

Edge is the worst. It has some kind of horizontal bounce and vertical bounce effect that appears to work independently from the OS-wide Bouncing registry key setting (presumably that is what it is for).

You can disable this in edge://flags, the specific setting is called Microsoft Edge scrolling personality, and because it is a pain in the ass, it should be disabled along with other scroll hijacking effects.

Please Microsoft. Please do not allow apps and programs to hijack the global scroll behavior!

Annoyingly, I am also having an issue with Chrome not gaining focus when opened from the taskbar, and I am reading reports that uninstalling Edge completely fixes the problem. I guess I will have to do that, even though Windows will probably just forcefully install it later against my will.

Google Chrome

Chrome also seem to have some annoying scroll hijacking "features", more or less self explanatory, but here we go:

Pull-to-refresh gesture, same as on mobile. But probably going to be annoying on desktop, since you can just hit CTRL + R. Disable this crap.

Elastic Overscroll, this is the same as Edge's "bounce" effect when over-scrolling, also known from mobile device browsers, and it is annoying on desktop, so you can go ahead and disable this hijacking crap.

Smooth Scrolling, can be nice when done right. But not when combined with extremely slow momentum scrolling. Besides, it seem to interfere with global Windows settings. Go ahead and disable this.

Programs and Apps might mess with scroll behavior

This is perhaps most obvious if you install a browser like Chrome or Firefox.

If you are using Google Chrome, then you can try opening chrome://flags and disable Elastic Overscroll, as well as Smooth Scrolling. I am not sure, but these settings seem to interfere with default scroll settings in Windows, which just makes the problem worse. After I disabled everything scroll related in Chrome, it seems my scroll started behaving more sane again.

I still have the annoyance of the momentum scroll thing, which makes it hard to scroll slowly. Basically I have to scroll in small nudges because Windows is "slowing down" or "fighting against" my scroll if I scroll "too slowly", which is extremely frustrating to me. What kind of deluded idiot came up with such a utterly retarded "feature"??

Frustratingly, I have no solution

Unfortunately, for now, I will just have to stick to using Linux, as scroll issues are not nearly as pronounced. Fyi. I am using kUbuntu currently.

I know of no actual fix or way to disable momentum scrolling for Windows, and, as usual, the official Microsoft support forums are not very helpful. I honestly think the official forums should be closed down, or at least de-indexed from Google. They rarely provide actual solutions to problems, and seem to mainly post copy/paste answers.

It is not that Linux does not have issues with scrolling speed and behavior, it is just less severe. Or so it seems on my system.

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