What is a Scroll Wheel?

Updated: Jul 5, 2023 5:48 PM
what is scroll wheel

If you are new to the world of computer mice, you may wonder what a scroll wheel is. Even the best computer mouse around tends to include one of these scroll wheels, as do just about every other available mouse. So why learn about the scroll wheel, what is the scroll wheel, and how to use it? Keep reading to find out.


  • A mouse scroll wheel is exactly what it sounds like: a scrolling wheel that navigates the mouse cursor up and down, like a touchscreen on a mobile phone.
  • This wheel is typically lodged in the center of the mouse between the left and right mouse buttons.
  • You can adjust the sensitivity of the wheel in system settings or the user interface, which controls the force required to engage in horizontal scrolling or vertical scrolling via the drop-down menu.

Why Learn About the Scroll Wheel?

Before you can learn how to fix a mouse scroll wheel, you have to learn about the wheel itself. The scroll wheel is a good first step when learning tips for switching to a keyboard and mouse setup. This wheel handles much of a mouse’s navigation needs, even if you have just learned the definition of a drag-clicking mouse. Learning about this component also helps when wondering why your mouse is scrolling up when you scroll down, among other issues.

Insider Tip

Be sure to regularly clean the wheel, as they are magnets for dust and debris, which can impede functionality.

What is a Mouse Scroll Wheel?

This wheel with a mouse allows users to quickly move up and down a computer window, such as a website or part of a software suite. You can identify the wheel by looking for the, well, wheel in the center of the mouse. Some designs place this wheel on the side, so be on the lookout for that. The wheel is most commonly made from a rubber-coated plastic disc and is widely considered to be one of the more important components of modern computer mice.

Tips for Mouse Scroll Wheels

Every mouse is different, and so is every wheel. Still, some tips are worth considering to help you master this tech.

Change the Sensitivity Settings

If you are scrolling too quickly or too slowly for your liking, nip this in the bud by adjusting the sensitivity settings within dedicated driver software or right in the system settings page or control panel. This will adjust how much force is required to make the wheel move up or down. Experiment with different settings to find your sweet spot.

Remember the Basics

Just like touchpads, touch screens, and trackball mice, the basics are important when manipulating a scrolling wheel. Go slowly and practice until you get the hang of it. Remember, you scroll up to move up and down to move down, but this can be adjusted in the system settings or within the control panel.

STAT: At the ACM SIGCHI conference in 1989, Gina Danielle Venolia from Apple presented a mouse prototype with a horizontal thumb-wheel for scrolling or navigating inwards and outwards. (source)

Scrolling Wheel FAQS

How do you scroll click?

This is a technique in gaming that requires plenty of practice and is only useful with certain mouse models. Some competitive PC games consider the technique illegal.

What are the default buttons and wheel assignments for my mouse?

This changes depending on the make and model, especially with regard to vertical scrolling. Head into the system settings to check the assignments for the scroll ball, the left button, the scroll buttons, the middle mouse button, the mouse wheel, and more.

How do you measure clicks per second (CPS)?

There are many apps and web services available that measure how quickly you click the mouse buttons. Download one and familiarize yourself with the user interface, even when vertical scrolling.

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