Making scrollbars wider in Windows 8.1

Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars
Windows Explorer, now with wider scrollbars

Since last year’s dalliance with meningitis, which damaged my eyesight a little, I’ve found the standard Window scrollbars just a little too narrow for my liking.

It may only take a second or two more to adjust my mouse so that they are hovering right over them but those additional few seconds all add up. “Mony a mickle macks a muckle”, as we say in Scotland.

So last week I went looking for a way to increase the scrollbar width.

Windows 7 offers an easy way to do this within the Control Panel > Personalisation interface. Windows 8.x, however, doesn’t. You need to guddle about in the Windows Registry.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Win + R to open the Run dialog box.
  2. When the User Account Control dialog appears, click Yes.
  3. Type regedit, then click OK.
  4. Navigate to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Control Panel / Desktop / WindowMetrics
  5. Locate the two keys: ScrollHeight and ScrollWidth. These will both be set to -255.
  6. Change both to -375 to make them a little wider. (One site I visited recommended between -100 for thinner, and -1000 for thicker).
  7. Exit Registry Editor.
  8. Either restart the Explorer process in Task Manager, or log out and back in again, or reboot.

Restoring the Up button in Windows 7

explorer-upbutton

One of the things that puzzled me about Windows Vista and Windows 7 is why Microsoft removed the ‘up’ arrow icon in Windows Explorer. I’m now delighted to be able to restore it using Classic Shell by Ivo Beltchev.

Now, I do appreciate that Vista introduced the breadcrumbs in the address bar which allows you to move quickly between directories, and there is a keyboard shortcut (Alt+Up arrow) to move back up the tree. But sometimes it’s just quicker to use a button, rather than moving back and forth between the mouse/trackpad and keyboard.

Mavis Up Button

I have tried Mavis Up Button in the past. While it’s not free, its cost of US $4.95 (approx. GBP £3.10) isn’t exactly prohibitive. But it does have a few shortcomings.

The first is one of user-experience. While it looks beautiful (a shiny green colour) it doesn’t disable when you reach the top of the path tree, which makes things a little disorienting (“can I go up any further or not?!”).

The second relates to reinstalling Windows. Because the registration requires you to match a software-generated hardware ID, username and registration key, if you’ve made any significant changes to your computer these will not match and you’ll either need to ask Mavis technical support to generate another registration key or you’ll need to purchase the application again.

Which brings me to the Mavis technical and customer support, which in my experience is dreadful. I waited over a month for a reply to an email and am still waiting. And the last time I tried to purchase the button I was sent an email of the HTML of their Error 404 Page Not Found page when they were meant to send me the registration code!

Classic Shell

Classic Shell is free, hosted at SourceForge and doesn’t require any registration key to make it work. I now have it installed on my laptop.

As the name might suggest, it does more than add an Up button within Windows Explorer, but the options are nicely organised (with two views: basic and advanced) and you are not forced to use the features that you don’t want to use.

See the features page to find out what else it offers.

classic-shell

So far I’ve been impressed with Classic Shell, even though all I want is the Up button in Explorer, and it works on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.