Jeff Johnson is the hero behind StopTheMadness, Link Unshortener, and other must-have browser and social media tools that help you ignore and defeat websites’ attempts to hijack control of your cursors, mouse, and Control-click. (I gave StopTheMadness 5 out of 5 stars in a Mac Gems review last year.)
But what has he done for us lately? He figured out how to turn off smooth scrolling, a surprise feature Apple added in Safari 16.4 for macOS. In case you haven’t noticed, with this version of Safari, pressing and releasing the down or up arrow on a Safari page scrolls the page continuously until you tap a key or use a mouse to regain control. The change is mind-boggling. Who asked for this? Why introduce it in the middle of the stream? And the biggest question of all: Why isn’t there a checkbox to turn it off?
Johnson has documented a multi-step surgery to solve this problem. You can read his quick post or this more detailed step-by-step here if you’re not familiar with Safari’s Debug Mode and the Terminal.
- Time to complete: 5 minutes
- Tools needed: macOS, the Terminal app
- Required materials: Safari 16.4
macOS Ventura: Open > System Settings > Privacy & Security and go to the Privacy section (shown above).
macOS Monterey and earlier: Open > System Preferences > Security & Privacy and click the Privacy section to open it.
Full disk access
macOS Ventura: Click Full disk access (shown above).
macOS Monterey and earlier: Select Full disk access in the left column. Click the lock icon at the bottom left of the settings window and authenticate with Touch ID, your password, or a watch.
macOS Ventura: To search Terminal in the main window and turn on the switch (see above). You must enter an administrator username and password after flipping the switch.
macOS Monterey and earlier: In the main part of the window you will see a list of apps. Click the “+” button and navigate to Applications > Utilities. You should find the Terminal app there; select the Terminal icon and then click the Open knob.
Close System Settings/Preferences.
In both macOS Ventura and Monterey:
- Quit Safari if it is open.
- Launch the Terminal app (located in Applications > Utilities).
- Copy the exact text below as a single line, paste it into the Terminal at the prompt and hit return:
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true
Safari Debug setting
In both macOS Ventura and Monterey:
- Exit the terminal and launch Safari.
- Choose from the new Debug menu that appears Debugging > WebKit Internal Functions > EventHandler driven smooth keyboard scrolling. It should appear with a checkmark, so choosing it will remove the checkmark and disable the option.
When you activate the Safari Debug menu, it remains enabled even after you adjust the smooth scrolling setting on the keyboard. To remove the Debug menu, repeat step 4, but instead copy and paste this command into the Terminal and hit return:
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool false
Thanks to Johnson for uncovering a buried secret that should be a Safari checkbox!
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