Unlocking The Potential of CSS Scroll Snap for Smoother Scrolling Experiences

Unlocking the Potential of CSS Scroll Snap for Smoother Scrolling Experiences

smooth scrolling laptop screen

Scrolling is a fundamental interaction on the web, and as a web designer or developer, it's inevitable that you'll come across projects where controlling the user's scrolling behavior becomes a priority. With the introduction of CSS Scroll Snap, you can create seamless and visually pleasing scrolling experiences with a few lines of code. In this tutorial, we'll cover everything you need to know to get started with CSS Scroll Snap.

What is CSS Scroll Snap?

CSS Scroll Snap is a feature that allows you to create smooth scrolling experiences on your web pages by automatically snapping the user's scroll position to specific points (called "snap points"). This can be useful for creating image carousels, product showcases, or full-page slides like on a presentation. By automatically snapping to the desired position, users will find it much easier to navigate through your content.

How does Scroll Snap work?

The Scroll Snap feature relies on two main components: the scroll container and the scroll items. The scroll container is the element containing the items you want to scroll through, while the scroll items are the individual elements you want the user to scroll between. Scroll Snap works by applying CSS properties to these elements to define the scroll behavior and snap points.

Implementing Scroll Snap

To see how Scroll Snap works in practice, let's create a simple horizontal image carousel. Here's the HTML structure for our example:

<div class="carousel">
  <img class="carousel-item" src="img1.jpg" alt="Image 1">
  <img class="carousel-item" src="img2.jpg" alt="Image 2">
  <img class="carousel-item" src="img3.jpg" alt="Image 3">

Now, let's add the CSS properties to enable scroll snap. First, set the dimensions and style for the scroll container:

.carousel {
  display: flex;
  width: 100%;
  height: 300px;
  overflow-x: scroll;
  scroll-snap-type: x mandatory;

The display: flex; rule changes the layout of the child elements to display side by side. The width: 100%; rule ensures that the scroll container takes up the entire width of the viewport, while the height: 300px; rule sets a fixed height for the container.

The overflow-x: scroll; rule makes the scroll container horizontally scrollable, and the crucial scroll-snap-type: x mandatory; rule enables horizontal scroll snapping. The x value indicates that snapping should occur along the horizontal axis, while the mandatory value specifies that the container must always snap to a snap point.

Now, set the dimensions and style for the scroll items:

.carousel-item {
  width: 100%;
  height: 100%;
  object-fit: cover;
  scroll-snap-align: start;

The width: 100%; and height: 100%; rules make each image element take up the full width and height of the scroll container. The object-fit: cover; rule ensures that the images are scaled and cropped to fill the container while maintaining their aspect ratio. Finally, the scroll-snap-align: start; rule specifies that each item should act as a snap point at its start (left) edge.

That's it! With these properties, you have created a simple, fully functional scroll snap image carousel. You can enhance this further by customizing the scroll container and items with additional styling or animations.

Advanced Scroll Snap options

Now that we have covered the basics, let's explore some of the advanced Scroll Snap properties and options:

1. Optional snapping and proximity

The scroll-snap-type property also accepts the values optional and proximity. Setting the container's scroll-snap-type to optional means that the container will only snap when the browser decides that it is appropriate (based on factors like scroll velocity and available space). The proximity value will snap only if the item is closer to the snap position than any other snap points.

2. Multiple scroll snap points

You can also define multiple snap points on a single item by specifying multiple scroll-snap-align values (e.g., scroll-snap-align: start end;). This can be useful for creating more complex scroll snap layouts.

3. Adjusting snap positions

If you want to fine-tune the positioning of your snap points, you can use the scroll-padding and scroll-margin properties. scroll-padding defines the padding around the edges of the scroll container, which affects the snap positions. On the other hand, scroll-margin defines the margin around an individual scroll item, affecting its snap points.

Browser support and progressive enhancement

While the CSS Scroll Snap feature is now widely supported across major browsers, there are still some older browsers where it doesn't work. To ensure that your content remains accessible to users with unsupported browsers, consider implementing progressive enhancement. Simply provide a solid vertical or horizontal scroll experience and layer the scroll snap functionality on top. This way, users with supported browsers can enjoy the enhanced scrolling experience, while those with unsupported browsers still have a usable, albeit less optimized, experience.


CSS Scroll Snap is a powerful tool that can help you create smooth, refined scrolling experiences on your web pages. In this tutorial, we showed you how to create a basic scroll snap implementation and explored advanced options for further customization. We encourage you to play around with the various Scroll Snap properties and create scrolling experiences that are both visually pleasing and user-friendly. Happy coding!