How to scroll up in WSL (Linux for Windows)

Are you excited to try the new Windows Subsystem for Linux tool on Windows?  

Whether you have linux experience, or are just getting started in your learning, WSL offers an easy method for you to get started.  However, not everything is perfect.  WSL does have its limitations, which I will touch upon in this article.  

In this article, I will show you how to fix scrolling in WSL, which is broken upon install, and will not let you scroll up or down.

How to troubleshoot common errors in WSL, how to fix the broken scroll feature in WSL on Windows.

What is Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)?

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) was originally introduced to Windows August, 2016, which consisted of just an ubuntu image.  As of May, 2019 – WSL 2 was introduced, featuring a virtual-machine based back end.  

This allows users to be logged into their Windows system, and open up and run a completely separate Linux system at the same time.  This is a big time saver, for those that don’t need a full actual linux setup.  

WSL has been a great addition to the Windows platform, and finally the Linux community can start joining together the two.

Windows Subsystem for Linux has its own limitations, as the two platforms arent always on the same page

Errors with Windows Subsystem for Linux

However, WSL offers some unique problems that users won’t see in a full Linux system.  Due to the differences in how information is processed on Windows vs. Linux, and how each refers to its file systems, you will most likely run into some frustrating errors.  

One I ran into recently, was the inability to scroll up or down.  Users cannot scroll, page up or down, or even move the WSL Terminal screen.   I couldn’t read any information above my screen for Debug, or to see the ‘ls’ results, or even to look up ‘–help’ on various commands.  

Normally, on a regular Ubuntu install, one could scroll up with Control + b, or Control + page up.  But if you attempt this on WSL, the screen does nothing.   

The good news, is this was an easy fix.  .  

How to fix scrolling in WSL

The fix for this is very simple.   I edited the configuration settings for WSL, specifically the height, in layout settings.  

To do this, open up your WSL Terminal.  On the top left, right-click the logo, and go to ‘Properties‘.  

Navigate to ‘Layout’.  

Adjust the height box, to its maximum value, (or choose another value higher than your current).  Make sure to select ‘Wrap text input on resize’.  

Now close out of your terminal, and restart it.  Test this out with ‘wget –help’ or any other command with longer results.  You have now learned how to fix scrolling in WSL, and should be able to scroll up and down in your Windows Subsystem for Linux!

Hope this helps!