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Firefox 29.0 default has tabs same colour as bar above it (not distinction), how do I get back to the what was in 28.0 where they were different colours?

  • 30 replies
  • 235 have this problem
  • Last reply by jscher2000

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Just updated to Firefox 29.0 and the tabs not currently viewed are now the same colour as the background above them at the top. File, Edit, View, History, Bookmarks, Tools, Help are distinguished in a different colour though. I've checked but found this is the default theme. But it wasn't in 28.0, the tabs have always been a different colour to distinguish them. How do I tell Firefox to make the tabs a different colour to that above them? It's very annoying/disconcerting and just looks pretty awful. Not had this problem with updates changing the default colours before. Would have thought it's a no brainer for the default to have the tabs a different colour to distinguish them. Don't want to muck about with other themes, just want it like the default use to be. Thanks.

All Replies (20)

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Hi JillFire!

I'm one of the developers of the new Firefox UI and I hope I'll be able to answer your question.

We use the same text color for inactive tabs, because the text needs to stay legible with different themes applied and with the various custom system background colors.

The previous (pre-29) inactive tabs had their own background and outline/ border, so we were able to saturate the text color a bit. Now, in version 29 the inactive tabs blend into the background, which is a very strong visual indicator and minimizes distraction.

If it comes down to being a matter of taste, well, I can't really argue with that ;-) Some like it, some like it less than before - I only know that when putting screenshots of Firefox 28 next to the new Firefox 29 next to each other, everyone I know found the 29 tabs easier to the eye. But again, that's a matter of taste!

I hope you'll get used to the new look and eventually might even appreciate the stronger text on inactive tabs!



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It is one thing to highlight the selected tab but another to obscure the inactive tabs.

Yes, it is easy to see the selected tab, but when you are looking for an inactive tab to click, they are now much harder to find.

Your approach is actually making it more difficult to navigate among the tabs.

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.... in particular, if you have a tabs with short names, the "X" button to delete is now intuitively grouped with the tab to the right.


You do change to a slightly lighter blue when hovering. That would be a more effective choice for the inactive tab base color. Hover could then use another step lighter blue.

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I agree MrCreosote, incative tabs are now hard to find. The slightly lighter colour when hovering the inactive tabs would be a great choice for those inactive tabs base colour all the time. And yes, a step lighter when hovering is a good idea too. May be not to Mike's taste though, he seems to like the new way. Can't see it myself, I find the lack of distinction a real nuisance. Can't help thinking more Firefox users would agree with me and MrCreosote than not.

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Amen JillFire

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mikedeboer you guys do a great job and I prefer FF over anything else, BUT here's a few points I'd like to make

" Now, in version 29 the inactive tabs blend into the background, which is a very strong visual indicator and minimizes distraction. "

NO it isn't a strong visual indicator and it doesn't minimize distraction because it wasn't a distraction in the first place. Now it just looks cheap and crappy

" I only know that when putting screenshots of Firefox 28 next to the new Firefox 29 next to each other, everyone I know found the 29 tabs easier to the eye."

If I ever going to do screen shots of a page, it isn't to admire your TABS, its to look at the page I did the screen shot on and 90% of the time I will crop it to get rid of the tabs

WHY can't FF just offer previous defaults as an optional add-on so WE can decide what we want and not have to use what you think we should because you like it. And I don't really want to go get another add-on from somewhere else when the FF default did all I ever wanted

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Can there be like a visual option added to have the old school outlined rectangular tab boxes over the new fancy borderless ribbon like cluster of a mess.

Modified by Tasslehoff

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I agree finding it difficult to change between tabs, need to wear spectacles to read tabs not needed before update seems like bright young things with good eyesight have decided we 'can have any colour as long as it's black' very last century. No choices offered! Have you been purchased by MS?

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Another way to explain the problem:

1) I already know where I am, so the high-lighted tab is not that important.

2) I NEED TO KNOW where I am going, so the INACTIVE TABS are VERY IMPORTANT!

Your Color Scheme is Bass Ackwards

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Agree with all previous comments except developer mikedeboer's comment: "If it comes down to being a matter of taste, well, I can't really argue with that ;-) Some like it, some like it less than before - I only know that when putting screenshots of Firefox 28 next to the new Firefox 29 next to each other, everyone I know found the 29 tabs easier to the eye. But again, that's a matter of taste! "

There are already roughly 1000 threads citing the absence of colour distinction between tab and background in 29.0.1 as unusable or problematic on almost all OS's , many of these are from IT support staff each or whom represent a multitude of end users - this is a SERIOUS BUG that needs addressing URGENTLY or users will quickly migrate to another browser.

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What winsbury said...

This is NOT "a matter of taste"; it is a matter of USABILITY. Inactive tabs should be clearly delineated, as they were before and as they are in all other browsers.

I am trying to stay with Firefox, because I don't want Google to have a monopoly on Internet browsers, but it's becoming increasingly difficult. First there was that change where people visiting my websites in Firefox see a different font size than what I want unless they discover that about:config setting that will use the same font size all the other browsers use... and now this.

Mozilla, listen to us! We're your users, and we're a committed bunch, and we're pretty savvy about the web. We have useful input to share with you!

Meanwhile, I'm going to spend today in Chrome, and hope you fix this soon..

Modified by alisontaylorbc

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Totally agree with Dave_in_NZ and would like to hear a dev answer this question, rather than pretending it's not being asked:

Why can't/won't/don't you offer previous defaults as an options addon, when you're fully aware that a majority of end users don't want what's being dished up as an 'improved' version?

Isn't it for us decide what we do and don't want, need, like or don't like, and not you?

Aren't end users in a far better position to advise you of what's working for us and what's not? Who is it you're actually trying to please, because it certainly doesn't seem to be the end user?

I hope these questions will be addressed in detail, but I shan't hold my breath.

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Firefox is being "dumbed down" to accommodate firstly Smart Phones and secondly Tablets.

These people don't use all the power of Tabs - their devices are too small.

So Tab graphics should be developed for PCs only.

Of course, that is blasphemy these days.

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I know that some people do not want to use add-ons or have to create a userChrome.css file with custom style rules. But if that is an option for you, I have posted some style rules that alter the background images for the inactive tabs to make them more visible, from a fairly subtle outline to a bright area behind the title. You can explore from here:

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@MrCreosote: It would appear that way, but as I've complained to FF before (via feedback), a couple of teenagers could create an addon for unhappy users to retain what's been ripped away from them in a single weekend. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Mozilla seem happy to foster anger and negativity for the sake of trying to muscle in on the Google mobile/tablet market (in other words 'greed' before people), which means they'll very much come out on the losing end as a result, because that's not what they started out to be.

@jscher2000: It's not just that some "don't want to use addons", but many - I repeat: MANY - people are NOT tech savvy enough to know how to screw around with coding to change things back in order to match their needs and requirements - and they shouldn't have to be. If anything, the 'addon' should have been what tablet/mobile users download for their benefit, not shafting desktop users.

Modified by notthenineoclocknews

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Yep, visited, inactive tabs are difficult to read and distinguish from each other.

Maybe someone could provide the css selector to style them myself. For whatever reason, none of the themes handle this issue.

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Hi nullsteph, if you want to insert background images, the first 3 userstyles here could provide a reference point:

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This seemed to do the trick. It only gets the previously visited tabs which are not active.

#TabsToolbar .tabbrowser-tabs tab:not([pending="true"]):not([selected="true"])
	background-color:rgba(50,50,50,0.2) !important;
	border-collapse:separate !important;
	border-radius:1em 1em 0 0 !important;
	color:#fff !important;
	text-shadow:1px 1px 2px #000;

Modified by cor-el

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And On "It" Goes...

This 25-year veteran database software engineer has watched MS, Acronis, Acrobat and many other "professional quality" software apps' UIs (User Interface) truly DUMB-DOWN thru the years were common-sense, user-friendly interfaces NO LONGER exist compared to prior versions.

Just Google the Net and you will find countless examples of absolute, stupid design practices and valid complaints where the "developers" put their "happy ideas" ahead of the users' perspectives and needs without ever doing much, if any, research with said user-base.

Frustratingly, this topic regarding the "downgrade" to v29 is yet another example where a company that has been and is suppose to be "better" than other browsers has fallen to much lower standards and levels these past couple of years. No wonder Firefox's popularity seemingly is slipping!

I strongly agree with all who totally HATE this unfriendly UI as it exemplifies how the "classic", common-sense features continue to get ripped away from users.

mikedeboer: You and your DevTeam hereby are asked to get back on track, listen to our valid complaints and return the prior functionality and default theme options to Firefox so we do not have to screw around with Add-Ins.

Thank you!

PS: Many times, friendly and practical functionality must override one person's idea of a "nice style and look". That's like being forced to buy a car with color you hate.

Modified by StratMan55

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I've just upgraded from version 28 to 32 and have the exact same problem. The tabs not currently viewed are now the same color as the background above them at the top.

It looks horrible, and no, it's not "a matter of taste", no, it's not a "very strong visual indicator", and no, it absoluely doesn't minimize distraction but increases it.

To make it short - it's an absolute nonsense, thank you very much.

Why for christ sake do things "improve" for the worse with every damn upgrade, dammit????

At least make the tab background color choosable. It's pathetic, really.

Modified by rudk

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