Scrolling issues on macOS Sierra
October 31, 2018 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm having scrolling issues on my mid-2011 iMac running Sierra. This happens in every application and it isn't restricted to a single device, meaning this issue occurs when I try scrolling on the keyboard or the trackpad or a wacom tablet. If I try scrolling down, I will go down a page or a document and then the scrollbar will move up again once I release the down key or the scrollbar. I've tried the usual reboots, pairing the devices again, looking at the accessibility options on system preferences, but without any luck. I have installed Sierra a long time ago, so I don't know what prompted the issue. This seems to have happened overnight. Help?
posted by lost_lettuce to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
What happens if you scroll with your keyboard detached? Could your "Page Up" key be stuck?
posted by advicepig at 9:03 AM on October 31, 2018

advicepig: good guess but no. The issue remains even when the keyboard is turned off.
posted by lost_lettuce at 9:09 AM on October 31, 2018

Does it happen when only a single device (keyboard/trackpad/tablet) is connected? Definitely sounds like it could be a stuck input from one of them (sounds like you've ruled out the keyboard).
posted by so fucking future at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2018

Don't mean to threadsit, but yes: this happens with every device and when only a single one of them is connected.
posted by lost_lettuce at 9:30 AM on October 31, 2018

Any change if you use a different user account? This would rule out a local setting.

It would also be interesting to see if restarting in safe mode makes a difference. If you've never used safe mode just note that your computer will be quite a bit slower and there will probably be visual issues (like the screen redrawing with weird patterns), but everything will go right back to normal when you restart again.
posted by bcwinters at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2018

Did you check your system preferences?
posted by terrapin at 9:42 AM on October 31, 2018

No changes after restarting in safe mode. Issue happens on both user accounts.
posted by lost_lettuce at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2018

That's wild. In safe mode there is so little actually activated software-wise that this seems like it would have to be hardware.

Can you make an exact list of every device that is physically connected to your computer and every device that might be connecting via Bluetooth, even if it should have nothing to do with scrolling (even things like a USB hub, a lightning cable with nothing attached to it, a data card from a camera, or a Thunderbolt drive...) to completely remove any possibility that one piece of hardware is causing this?
posted by bcwinters at 10:52 AM on October 31, 2018

To rule out hardware if you're using Bluetooth, you'll need to turn it off at the source—the iMac itself, and hook up a USB keyboard and/or mouse. This test assumes nothing else is attached. Just a single USB device.

If the issue persists and itsn't linked to any hardware attached by USB, it is then in software, and you've already ruled out it being account based since you've tried it in both user accounts. They load their preferences from their own ~/Library/ folder. So if it persists across accounts, the issue lies higher in the hierarchy at Macintosh HD/Library or (less likely generally) in the System folder or one of the invisible folders that tuck away the more esoteric Unix bits.

My first guess though? You've got a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse somewhere connected to the iMac you've forgotten about, and it's pinned under papers or a book or somesuch item. But that's just a shot in the dark based on the described behaviors.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:08 AM on October 31, 2018

Connected devices: USB Wacom tablet, bluetooth Apple keyboard and trackpad. Have tested with just the Wacom attached and the keyboard & trackpack turned off (batteries out, even) and unpaired. Nothing changed. The iMac isn't detecting any other Bluetooth devices.
posted by lost_lettuce at 12:02 PM on October 31, 2018

I've tried ... looking at the accessibility options on system preferences

Did you look at them closely enough to ascertain whether Voice Over has accidentally been turned on? It can cause some odd scrolling behavior and it's easily turned on by accident with an inadvertent Cmd-F5.
posted by flabdablet at 12:43 PM on October 31, 2018

Accessibility commands were turned off to prevent such accidents. I upgraded to High Sierra today and the issue remains. What's left? Format the disk and do a clean install? Or is this too soon?
posted by lost_lettuce at 6:37 AM on November 1, 2018

Well, you could see if the installer was doing the odd scrolly thing before you blew the disk away....
posted by advicepig at 8:13 AM on November 1, 2018

Before you go the nuke and pave, it would certainly be worth trying a different OS to find out whether this is in fact a hardware issue. If you boot up an Ubuntu live USB stick and see the same kind of scrolling misbehaviour, you can be quite sure that switching to a fresh OS X installation won't fix it either.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 AM on November 1, 2018

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