Customize the Browser's Scrollbar with CSS

Akinjide Bankole

Custom scrollbars are getting popular, and you might have come across websites that have unique scrollbars, making the sites feel and look different. There are basically a few ways to implement a custom scrollbar. In this tutorial we will be using CSS3, which is the most straightforward way. However, there are jQuery plugins that can help with customizing scrollbar, but I do not like to add more JavaScript to my website. If you are a designer, photographer or you just want your website to have a cool scrollbar, go ahead with the jQuery plugins.

Note: You should know custom scrollbars are exposed behind the -webkit vendor prefix for use in browsers using the Webkit (and Blink) rendering engine.

Before we start, let's look at a basic scrollbar structure:

Note

  1. Important words are highlighted.
  2. Bold words emphasis a point.
  3. Previous / Next code appears like this . . . .

Terminologies

-webkit-scrollbar consists of seven different pseudo-elements, and together comprise a full scrollbar UI element:

  1. ::-webkit-scrollbar the background of the bar itself.
  2. ::-webkit-scrollbar-button the directional buttons on the scrollbar.
  3. ::-webkit-scrollbar-track the empty space β€œbelow” the progress bar.
  4. ::-webkit-scrollbar-track-piece the top-most layer of the the progress bar not covered by the thumb.
  5. ::-webkit-scrollbar-thumb the draggable scrolling element resizes depending on the size of the scrollable element.
  6. ::-webkit-scrollbar-corner the bottom corner of the scrollable element, where two scrollbar meet.
  7. ::-webkit-resizer the draggable resizing handle that appears above the scrollbar-corner at the bottom corner of some elements.

Now that you are familiar with the terminologies, let's start!

Setup

First, create index.html and style.css files, and open the current directory with Sublime Text (or Atom, VIM, WebStorm).

Note: If you're on Windows, read Open Sublime Text From Command Line to run the commands below.

$ touch index.html
$ touch style.css
$ open . -a 'Sublime Text'

Create HTML Document (index.html)

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
    <head>
        <meta charset="UTF-8" />
        <title>Customize the Browser's Scrollbar with CSS</title>
        <link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css">
    </head>
    <body>
        <div class="scrollbar" id="style-1">
            <div class="force-overflow"></div>
        </div> 
    </body>
</html>

You'll need to include the style.css file in the HTML file. You can type out the above HTML code or just copy and paste into your HTML file. :)

CSS Stylesheet (style.css)

Firstly, we set the .scrollbar (class) width, height, background-color, then set overflow-y: scroll to get the vertical scrollbar. We set min-height: 450px to the .force-overflow div so that the scrollbar appears (because we used the overflow-y property to scroll in .scrollbar class).

.scrollbar {
    background-color: #F5F5F5;
    float: left;
    height: 300px;
    margin-bottom: 25px;
    margin-left: 22px;
    margin-top: 40px;
    width: 65px;
       overflow-y: scroll;
}

.force-overflow {
    min-height: 450px;
}

Now, we use the scrollbar pseudo-element for creating our custom scrollbar. It will replace its default width with a new width of 6px and then add background-color: #F5F5F5.

. . .

#style-1::-webkit-scrollbar {
    width: 6px;
    background-color: #F5F5F5;
} 

. . .

Since we know that scrollbar contains track, button and thumb, we are now going to give a stylish look to thumb. We use pseudo-element (i.e. ::-webkit-scrollbar-thumb) with webkit prefix and set scrollbar-thumb background- color.

. . .

#style-1::-webkit-scrollbar-thumb {
    background-color: #000000;
}

. . .

After that, the scrollbar looks like this:

We use box-shadow on scrollbar-track to make it stylish and add contrast between the scrollbar and scrollbar-track.

. . .

#style-1::-webkit-scrollbar-track {
    -webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 0 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
    background-color: #F5F5F5;
}

Conclusion

A recap of what we discussed:

  • Customized scrollbars aren’t uncommon anymore. You will find them in major websites and blogs, especially personal portfolio websites.
  • There are tons of jQuery plugins that can help with customizing scrollbar.
  • Custom scrollbars are exposed behind the -webkit vendor prefix.
  • Basic structure of a scrollbar.
  • Terminologies associated with scrollbars.

The CSS way of customizing scrollbars is simple, but looks a bit rough. However, operating systems like Windows, OS X and Linux have their own style for the scrollbar. This in return could lead to undesirable results and inconsistencies for your design. Remember, you should keep it simple, stupid (KISS), not too fancy.

I have created more scrollbars using the above procedure. I made use of codePen for the demo, and you can find the full code for this tutorial on CodePen.

That's all. I hope you like it!

Make sure to leave any thoughts, questions or concerns in the comments below. I would love to see them.

Akinjide Bankole

2 posts

I'm just smart and I like to code.