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Is there a way, using either applescript or a shell script, to change the scroll speed? I don't even know where to begin to look for a mechanism for this.

Oh, and no third-party applications either, just plain vanilla applescript/shell script so as to be completely portable and should be able to function on Mac OS 10.6 - 10.10.

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Terminal:

defaults write -g com.apple.scrollwheel.scaling -float 1.0

And log-out/log-in. 1.0 is just a guess. Maybe also try 1.5. This is a hidden preference so default value is not known. Fiddle around a bit to find the speed to like. If it doesn't work, or you wish to restore to back to how it used to be:

defaults delete -g com.apple.scrollwheel.scaling

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