Why doesn’t LaunchBar scroll “naturally”?

This question arises from time to time, so I’d like to explain the difference between natural scrolling in regular OS X windows and scrolling in LaunchBar.

In contrast to other windows, when you scroll the item list in LaunchBar, this moves the selection up and down, allowing you to quickly navigate to a different item in the list, without needing to click on that item. In other windows, though, scrolling moves the entire list content, but does not change the selected row in the list.

Look at these examples: This is what natural scrolling looks like in regular lists. Your finger movement and the resulting movement on screen are consistent, they move in the same direction:

And this is what scrolling looks like in LaunchBar. Scrolling moves the selection – and again, your finger movement and the resulting movement on screen are consistent:

If you really like, you can try changing LaunchBar’s scrolling direction with this Terminal command:

defaults write at.obdev.LaunchBar NaturalScrolling YES

But then you get this – the selection moves in the opposite direction than your fingers:

Hope this makes it somewhat clearer why LaunchBar doesn’t (or actually does) scroll naturally.