Pure CSS Scroll Shadows (Vertical + Horizontal)

A long time ago (2012!), Lea Verou shared a way on how to add scrolling shadows to containers that needs scrolling. Using those shadows in a scroll container is a great UX thing, as they visually tell the user that the content is scrollable.

Her code however, only worked with containers that scroll vertically. Based upon Lea’s code I created a version that also plays nice with horizontal scroll containers.

Whilst I was at it, I also introduced CSS Custom Properties, as they allow easy theming. Using the “CSS Variables” --background-color, --shadow-color, and --shadow-size you can configure the result.

Hope you like it 🙂

# 🐛🍏 A note on MobileSafari (iOS)

Update 2021.10.06: The workaround listed below no longer works since iOS15 😭

Out of the box this technique unfortunately does not play that nice on iOS: MobileSafari does not seem to re-render the backgrounds during scroll. I did notice however that it will correctly re-render after manually zooming in and out on the page. This is detailed in Webkit Bug 181048.

In said bug report a solution to the problem is mentioned:

I’ve discovered that updating a CSS variable on a -webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch; element when it’s scrolled causes it to repaint correctly.

With a little bit of JavaScript we can trigger exactly this:

// Fix for Mobile Safari that doesn't correctly re-render backgrounds during scroll
// @ref https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=181048
if (CSS.supports("-webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch")) {
  document.querySelectorAll(".scrollcontainer").forEach((scroller) => {
    scroller.addEventListener("scroll", () => {
      scroller.style.setProperty("--force-paint", Date.now());

It’s also possible to force repaints by attaching an animation to the .scrollcontainer. Even a dummy (empty) animation will do.

/*Fix for Mobile Safari that doesn't correctly re-render backgrounds during scroll */
@supports (-webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch) {
  @keyframes dummy {
  .scrollcontainer {
    animation: 1s dummy linear infinite;
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Published by Bramus!

Bramus is a Freelance Web Developer from Belgium. From the moment he discovered view-source at the age of 14 (way back in 1997), he fell in love with the web and has been tinkering with it ever since (more …)

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