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web reader appWhen was the last time you read a whole article? Not two or three paragraphs and then clicked on to the next one, but the whole thing. What about an article that was more than 1000+ words? The fact is, it’s difficult to read on the web. There are a number of things that could be blamed from ads along side of content that are distracting to our click-happy habits of constantly opening more and more links in our browser.

A developer by the name of Richard Wallis saw this problem too and he created a solution. That solution is a browser extension and a bookmarklet that removes the potential distractions from around the page, but it also addresses something else that he feels is actually the reason behind our poor reading habits online.

In his blog post, he explained his reasoning:

The problem is scrolling. Scrolling is a brilliant way to display a map or an Excel spreadsheet on a computer. But it’s a terrible way to display text.

That’s because scrolling moves the text on a page. And moving text, even if it’s under your control, will break your reading rhythm.

I encourage you to read the rest of his blog post. It’s short, but actually interesting and well written. And while you’re there, you can demo MagicScroll without having to install anything!

About MagicScroll Web Reader

MagicScroll Web Reader isn’t actually Wallis’s first creation. He also developed the MagicScroll eBook Reader, which we gave a pretty good review on Magic Scroll - A Beautiful Online HTML5 EPUB Book Reader Magic Scroll - A Beautiful Online HTML5 EPUB Book Reader Read More and he promptly replied to Magic Scroll - A Beautiful Online HTML5 EPUB Book Reader Magic Scroll - A Beautiful Online HTML5 EPUB Book Reader Read More .

It was already mentioned that MagicScroll is both an extension and a bookmarklet. Although the bookmarklet works across all browsers,  the extension is currently only for Chrome.


Let’s take a look at how MagicScroll really makes a difference. For the example, we’ll use the feature article “Tech Through 90-Year-Old Eyes: Are We Really Better Off? Tech Through 90-Year-Old Eyes: Are We Really Better Off? [Feature] Tech Through 90-Year-Old Eyes: Are We Really Better Off? [Feature] Young people tend to look at the older generation as second class citizens when it comes to technology. This is apparent from jokes we see online every day, and it stems, among other things, from... Read More


web reader app

As you an see, there’s a video ad playing and although I personally love having the most recent and popular articles on the side, it without a doubt adds to distraction and “click happy syndrome.”


web reader

As you can tell, this is much more relaxing to read.

The Key To MagicScroll: Automatic Scrolling

I’ll be honest – I thought MagicScroll was just another tool to simplify the web page context. And it is, but it is much more too. It can scroll for you. When I tried it, I was amazed at how much faster I read and how much more I comprehended. See, although I love writing, reading on the other hand hasn’t always been my strongest skill. If I read quickly, I don’t comprehend as well. If I read slow (which I do already), I tend to get easily distracted.

The moving line kept me focused, which helped me retain the information better. Plus, I didn’t want any “hassle” with clicking the back button if I didn’t remember something. Note that I put “hassle” in quotes because it really isn’t that hard, per se – it is just something extra that I didn’t want to do while reading (and lose the focus).

web reader

So How Do I Use It?

Once you load MagicScroll on the page you want to read, you will see a completely new layout, but the same content, with absolutely no clutter whatsoever. There is an arrow on either side of the text to manually scroll through. If you prefer to manually scroll with your mouse wheel or touchpad scroll bar, it works great with those too.

On the bottom right are your controls to play/pause and speed up or slow down the automatic scrolling. Hopefully you won’t really be using those, though, as in the left corner there’s a tip to hit “H” to display the hotkeys. This makes the whole experience of using MagicScroll just that much better.

web reader

Note that also in the top left corner there is a button to go back to the original page and also one to report bugs – both essential. Although the “reload” button doesn’t technically have a hotkey (at least it’s not listed), the F5 key works like a charm.

web reader app review

TIP: For an even better reading experience, go full screen by pressing the F11 key on your browser. Now even your browser can’t distract you!

How Do I Get It?

This might seem like a ridiculous question – you go to the website, of course! But actually, it’s not the simple (as you can see looking at the website) and to be honest, I was asking myself this same question. Of course, I could find the Chrome extension – that’s simple – but how do you acquire the bookmarklet if you’re a non-Chrome user or bookmarklet lover Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Read More ?

The key is in the blog post. At the very end of it you’re given a link to the Chrome Web Store extension and a bookmarklet link to drag into your bookmarks bar.

web reader app


MagicScroll certainly isn’t the only web reading aid out there, there’s Clearly Evernote Clearly Removes Clutter From Webpages For Reading, Clipping Or Printing Evernote Clearly Removes Clutter From Webpages For Reading, Clipping Or Printing Remove everything from any webpage - the header, the sidebar, the advertisements - except for what you want to read. Then, if you like, send the article directly to Evernote or print it, clutter free.... Read More , Instapaper, iReader iReader - Instant Clutter-free Reading on Chrome & Firefox iReader - Instant Clutter-free Reading on Chrome & Firefox Read More , and Readability The New Readability Addon Converts Pages To Read-Friendly Format The New Readability Addon Converts Pages To Read-Friendly Format Read More , which are among my favorites. They each offer their own benefits such as printing, sharing and/or accessing the article easily on the go without all the “junk” around the content.

However, if reading is what you want to do, I don’t see a better alternative than MagicScroll. I don’t always end up keeping browser extensions that I try and sometimes write about because otherwise my browser would be slower than molasses, but MagicScroll Web Reader, whether in bookmarklet or extension form, will be remaining in my browser for quite some time.

What are your thoughts on the web reading experience? I encourage you to read the rest of the developer’s blog post who talks about the inspiration behind this extension and share your thoughts! Do you find yourself easily distracted when reading on the Internet? And after trying MagicScroll, did you see a difference?

Here are the download links again:

Get the MagicScroll bookmarklet via his blog post

Get the MagicScroll Web Reader Chrome extension

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  1. Elizabeth
    January 30, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Can Magic Scroll be implemented within a blog or website, so that readers can click a button to change the article they're reading into Magic Scroll view? Kind of like how there's a "Print" button and numerous social-sharing buttons you can add to blog posts and articles. Would love to see this be able to export to PDF, like Print Friendly.

    • Aaron Couch
      January 30, 2013 at 3:45 am


      That is a great question and I love the idea! I've wondered that myself actually. The developer, Richard Wallis, has been pretty active in responding to comments on here, but if he doesn't respond to you, you can send him an email:

  2. ZoNi
    January 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I use Evernote Clearly and I love it :-)

    • Aaron Couch
      January 22, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      I actually use Clearly as well, but I've found MagicScroll is very different from Clearly in a unique way. You should try it and let me know what you think. If you still prefer Clearly over MagicScroll though, that's certainly fair enough :)

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. ion popa
    January 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Ops! This kind of scrolling seems to me very funny!

  4. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    January 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I tell ya, I always read the article I click instead of just glossing over, and a good many of them are over 1000+ words. Unless you grow up with Facebook and Twitter, I think it's a common trait.
    That aside, tools like Readibility, Clearly, Pocket, and this one are always good to have, especially when you want to be able to read the page but decided not to use AdBlocker. Win-win solution.

  5. Aaron Chung
    January 20, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks a lot for the advice!!

  6. Sam Ayirookuzhiyil
    January 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    i personally use taptu on ipad and android

  7. Manny R
    January 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I don’t scroll when reading text. It makes me dizzy. I use Page Down, then stop to read, Page Down, then stop to read...

    • Ashutosh Dave
      January 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Yes, I guess everybody does that. Magic scroll is good but it would have been better if had just a line or 2 and the text scrolls giving us a better was to concentrate.

  8. Chanaka Hettige
    January 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    My hearties thanks goes to the developer! Tah it`s a real trouble that , as you mentioned, to keep track of reading position while scrolling. This is a nice solution for all the problem! Thanks again!

  9. gmvolk
    January 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Nice, but if you zoom the text(ctrl-mouse wheel) than the scrolling gets weird. The font size is a bit small for my tastes. Also, with multiple tabs open, and magic scroll active on one, magic scroll does not seem to work. Could be just because it's the bookmarklet on Firefox. Maybe the extension is better. Will have to wait as I don't/won't use Chrome.

    • Aaron Couch
      January 20, 2013 at 4:31 am

      Well, using Ctrl zooms in/out and perhaps that's the reason Magic Scroll doesn't work properly when you do that -- because it's not made to. I thought the font was the perfect size -- it's larger than most websites' font.

      However, just a day before this article was published live, I noticed that the Chrome extension was updated and now it does have the ability to change font size.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for reading!

  10. Adrian Rea
    January 19, 2013 at 10:50 am

    What a great idea, all it needs now is a select all and print option to clear all the rubbish around websites. It it of getting used to and my Dell mini1 is a little slow on rendering the page which made it feel a little buggy. It is also worth noting that the scroll wheel is a great addition to reading pages though it does again make you think you have a bg when you have mouse wheeled halfway down, gone page right and you two new halves of a page are visible. Nice find and as you say the websit does not do the extension any favours.

  11. Richard Wallis
    January 19, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Thanks Aaron,

    Justin Pot's original review for makeuseof was the first coverage that I got for MagicScroll. From it I picked up my first 4000 users and it made me believe for the first time that MagicScroll could be more than an interesting hobby project.

    Now two years later, more than 200000 people are using some form of MagicScroll every week and it's growing very fast.

    There's still a lot more work to do. I'm working hard to squash bugs and make it work better with more websites and ebooks on more devices.

    I'm always interested in feedback and bug reports, so I hope everyone reading this will email me at if they notice something they think I can improve on.

    Anyway thanks for the encouragment. I don't think that MagicScroll would be what it is without you guys.

    • Aaron Couch
      January 20, 2013 at 4:40 am

      Wow Richard! I didn't realize we played such an important roll in your success. That is so exciting! I love how simple and clean that MagicScroll Web Reader is. Thanks for stopping by and keep up the good work!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      January 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Richard, strangely my browser (Firefox 18) can't see more than the first page of your blog post ('I want the world to scroll this way')-no scroll arrow and when I scroll down it's dead end. Even pressing 'H' doesn't bring out anything. I've tried disabling AdBlocker for the site, still nothing happens.

      • Richard Wallis
        January 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

        Hi Lisa,

        I've had lots of reports of issues on Firefox. I'm working on it and hope to have a fix sometime in the next week or so.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          January 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

          Thanks for the swift response. This tool has potential and I'd like to keep it once it's fixed. You know what's funny? The EPUB reader works fine and very smooth.

        • Conga1
          January 22, 2013 at 7:23 am

          Am glad I found your comment. Hope you are successful with the fix. Will check back in a few more days.

  12. Ashwin Ramesh
    January 19, 2013 at 4:22 am

    An amazing idea and sure does make reading a real pleasure :)