Styal is a commuter village, with access to Manchester. The village is dominated by Quarry Bank Mill and much of its housing is the mill's estate. The mill and the surrounding country park are owned by The National Trust. It was once an area known as Pownall Fee. Samuel Greg had the village built for the workers of Quarry Bank Mill.
Styal railway station is on the line linking , , and . The line opened on 1 May 1909. The station now has a limited Monday – Saturday service (three trains in each direction); a campaign was launched in 2008 to lobby for more services. Sunday services every two hours were launched in May 2009 to coincide with the line's centenary.
The state primary school is on the Styal National Trust estate.
HMP Styal is a women's prison which opened in 1962 and occupies some former buildings of the Styal Cottage Homes. These Homes were open from 1898 to around 1956 and housed destitute children from the Manchester area.
Terry Waite the humanitarian, author and hostage negotiator is from Styal.