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Can color be added back to inactive tabs?

  • 28 replies
  • 130 have this problem
  • Last reply by John99

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On the new version of Firefox the inactive tabs are clear and the writing in them almost disappears against my rotating backgrounds. Can the Mozilla team add some color back to the inactive tabs? I'd rather not have to install an add-on that mimics previous versions where the tabs had color. Thanks.

Chosen solution

I use the Stylish extension to apply custom rules to Firefox's UI and to pages. I created one to add an outline around the tops of tabs which you can see/download here if you like:

Hi oil68, I don't know how well that meshes with your color scheme. I developed it on a Windows 7 Aero gray system.

Read this answer in context 👍 6

All Replies (20)

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Hi hlflqd!

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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Thank you for responding, mikedeboer. You're right--it is a matter of taste, and I don't like it. What's the point of a 'tab' if there's no tab? Text floating around at the top of the page is not a tab. And the little '+' for opening a new tab just sitting there. 28 was much better.

And while I'm complaining, I don't like all the buttons to the right of the search box. Do you guys just change things for no reason? 28 was just fine.

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Hello hlflqd, you can try the next add-on

thank you

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I strongly urge the addition of at least a text shadow on inactive tabs. On some backgrounds, the black text is really very difficult to see on inactive tabs.

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This to me seems like a large oversight for Windows 8 users. It would be great to have the inactive:hover color for the inactive tabs, that way you would still highlight the current tab and would still be able to see the inactive tabs.

Is there a way to temporarily do this until a fix comes out?


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Yea, on Windows 8 the inactive tabs & their text is not very well defined. The Windows 8 Title Bar text can similar legibility problems.

I also actually find the tabbar distracting without graphics on the inactive tabs. I am sure a few simple lines of code in the UserChrome could amend this. But I don't know how to code.

but, if I my be so bold as to suggest a simple solution...

These example using Windows 8.1 with default "Color 12" theme:

Default Firefox 29

My proposed to solution:

I am not a designer so it my be crude, but such a solution would really help the inactive tabs & text pop in my opinion. A simply option in the "Customize" would be nice.

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Yes, that's exactly what needs to be done.

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Yes, I actually find the lack of chrome around inactive tabs more distracting than when they were there before. Please fix this!

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Chosen Solution

I use the Stylish extension to apply custom rules to Firefox's UI and to pages. I created one to add an outline around the tops of tabs which you can see/download here if you like:

Hi oil68, I don't know how well that meshes with your color scheme. I developed it on a Windows 7 Aero gray system.

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I think you are headed in the right direction here to bandaid the problem...though I truly believe that this scenario is a FF-29 blunder that should be addressed in the core browser settings.

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jscher2000, that's a great start, though it seems to be an just an outline of the tab; there's no body to the tab so the text is still hard to make out.

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Hi oil68, yes, I only wanted the outline and not the color. Fiddling with the little background images is very time consuming, so I don't know how soon I could look into it again. Here is a crude workaround, which gives every tab the appearance that it is hovered. It creates ugly overlaps at the edges but maybe for now it helps.

@namespace url(;
.tabbrowser-tab > .tab-stack > .tab-background:not([selected=true]){
  background-image: url(chrome://browser/skin/tabbrowser/tab-background-start.png),
  background-position: 0px bottom, 30px bottom, right bottom;
  background-repeat: no-repeat;
  background-size: 30px 100%, calc(100% - 60px) 100%, 30px 100%;
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That's actually very close to where it should be..if you get those corners figured, please let us know.

I'm still baffled that the FF designers didn't catch this, hopefully we will see a fix soon :)

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Hi semrocc, the decision to reduce clutter on the tab bar and make it fade more into the background was intentional. However, since users can have so many different color schemes, it could be that some low contrast combinations were not considered. Or the people testing over the past 6+ months didn't complain about it.

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Well, I guess they were too successful at that.

It's hard to switch tabs when there's no clear lines of distinction: you don't know where to look.

And I hate it that FIrefox looks just like Chrome now.

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Modified by jscher2000

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This one has a bright bar behind the favicon and title:

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"the decision to reduce clutter on the tab bar and make it fade more into the background was intentional."


My wife tells me...your office is a mess...clean up your desk and remove the clutter. I leave everything there, but throw a blanket over the desk to cover it up to give it a fresh new-uncluttered look. I now start looking for my cell phone which was part of the clutter...hmmm, can't see it, because the blanket is covering it. I don't know exactly where on my desk it was...let me run down to the basement and phone my cell phone from the land line....ok...running back up the stairs, I now hear my cell phone ringing in my must be here...yup, got it.

Silly scenario, but that's pretty much how to describe the new tabs when using a darker background in Window 8. To assume that nobody uses a dark background on their computers is a big mistake and I certainly hope that the designers rethink this and come out with a better design soon. If you look at Chrome and IE, you see that the tab implementation works across any background.

By the way @jscher2000, your getting very close to a perfect temporary solution...good work!

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Hi jscher2000

Thank you so much for providing this Stylish :)

(( This solved the problem ))

Adding an outline to it made it much more visible and more active to what it suppose to act as a (TAB) ...

Thanks again jscher2000 , Your help is really appreciated  ;o)

and Thanks hlflqd for your post  ;o)

Modified by q8marronglace

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1) Please stop changing the appearance of the UI.

2) Please post a warning that you have changed the appearance of the UI. I just upgraded to v29 and regret it.

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