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The passive tabs on Firefox 29 are much too dark!

  • 20 replies
  • 35 have this problem
  • Last reply by Suncoast

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The dark gray background doesn't provide enough contrast for the title of the tab, so it takes an extra moment to read it. That's a time-waster and a nuisance. Is a fix in the works?

All Replies (20)

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Hi Swkrates,
Sorry that change is causing you, problems. I have seen a few others also commenting on this. The simplest method is just to install some suitable theme. Note they display as a preview when you select them on the addon site

You may also like to make a feedback comment, Firefox 29 was a major change but to some extent is still work in progress.

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If you get a moment, could you post a screen shot of the background tabs and mention which Windows Vista theme you use? I think it's hard for the developers to test all the combinations and it might be helpful to see what you're seeing.

This article has tips on creating screen shots. You can attach them to a reply.

How do I create a screenshot of my problem?

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Classic Theme Restorer (Customize Australis)

Restore squared tabs, appmenu, add-ons bar, small button view and more on Australis UI (Windows/MacOSX/Linux + Fx 29+).

This add-on can set tab colors as you wish.

Modified by FredMcD

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Thanks for the suggestion and directions, jscher2000. A screenshot is attached (I think).

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Thanks for the suggestion of changing the theme, john99. But theme? I never chose one, so I must have the default. When I look at the themes I see a million flavors. All I want is plain vanilla, such as I had until Firefox 29 came along.

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On Windows Vista and 7 with Aero themes, the background is semi-transparent. A "lightweight" theme basically replaces the background with an image; you can use a solid color images or something more artistic. That's probably the simplest way to change the color.

If you also want to add shape to the background tabs, you could use a custom style rule. I posted two last night you could consider:

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A million ?
No only 1/3 Million choices !


Did you notice that often you put the mouse over the sample of the theme it gives you a preview of what you would get. There are several categories to choose from


They both look good options for those having problems seeing the new Australis Tabs, and most people are going to have no problem with using Stylish.

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The problem here is that tabs are expected to be in a separate colour from the Windows theme. It looks like crap on my system which uses a black Windows theme.

Adding a Firefox theme doesn't correct the problem because themes cover the entire area which breaks the Windows theme. Themes would also have to be toggled depending on whether or not the file menu is active or not.

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Hi JMJimmy, the new 29.0.1 update might fix your issue.

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That is the 29.0.1 update. Before the update the text on the passive tabs was black.

Modified by JMJimmy

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Or just change tab text color ?

Just move to profile (Firefox > Help > Trouble > Show folder) > Create new folder named "chrome" > create userchrome.css file by using Notepad :

.tabbrowser-tab:not([selected="true"]) { color: rgba(255,255,255,0.9) !important}

Restart your Firefox !

Modified by Kam

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Great - yet ANOTHER UI fail that users have to fix for the developers.

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I have 200 users screaming at me about 29.0.1 tab colour matching the background making their jobs this case poor design = bad user experience.

We have a fixed corporate windows theme which Firefox in its new guise ignores almost entirely and looks totally out of place with a big block of colour and loads of text for background tabs all mixed in unintelligibly. We cant ( yes, wont ) install any third party add-ons so looks like we'll migrating to Chrome unless a patch is added that allows for using the color scheme from V28.

This is the first major cock up since IE use overtook Netscape way back when ... this needs sorting fast.

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winsbury, I am just another Firefox user, not a Developer and have not closely followed the bugs, I did however see one for Firefox for fix to a problem with Ububtu, and IIRC another about contrasting toolbars on Windows.

Personally I would have thought it was not an ideal design and against accessibility policies to deliberately make tabs disappear into a background without being easy to reverse. I will tag this as escalate. Let's see how HelpDesk staff respond.

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john99, thank you so much - as you are probably aware there are a multitude of threads on this topic on this forum so I am certainly not alone in feeling the astonishment that the user interface has been severely compromised both from a usability and accessibility point of view. I recognise that some platforms might benefit from this type of skin but there should at least be a way to revert to the original look of unselected tabs, after all they are actually the far more important than the current active tab; arguably they should be highlighted even more than than the main tab because they need to be clearly legible in order to easily select the one one wishes to work with next. The logic of the current design defies any real-world sense.

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Hi thread, Thank you for your feedback, however the best place for it is in []

As for the tabs not having a difference between the text and the background there is a feature to add that by adding the title bar in the Customize menu.

In the release notes for 29.0.1 there was an update to this issue:

  • Bug 907373 - -moz-os-version media query is not working on Windows

Check out the update and let us know!

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Probably also of interest and due for fixing in the next Firefox Fx30

  • Bug 1004576 - [Australis] Background tabs are unreadable when using a dark Windows theme

The easiest workaround is to just use a suitable Firefox background theme.

( Those not wishing to wait could install the Firefox Beta. Take care NOT to use any option to remove personal information if you try that. There is no need to uninstall Release Fx29.0.1 Beta will install over the top of it


Modified by John99

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Hi guigs2

Are there Developer or UX answers or discussions anywhere as to why it was decided to deliberately make tabs blend into the background ? That does not seem a very good policy for any users that have less than optimal eyesight.

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guigs2, seriously?....

1. the screen is no more than pitiful like/dislike screen that has more spam comments than serious ones

2. no commercial company will install beta software on production machines, its bad enough that full release software is buggy and ill-thought through.

3. bugfix 1004576 does not address the issue for v29 users (status: wontfix) and in any case does not address many of the issues raised in this thread.

4. I have installed v30beta on our dev machine and the background tabs are identical to v29 so why would you suggest otherwise in your post ?

imho the correct place for sensible discussions is here on the support forum or has the dev team become so simplified it can only cope if we use happy/sad faces to air genuine concerns ?

[update:] to make sure we are all taking about the same thing here are the issues that I am aware of from my own users and other threads - all relate to the subject of changes to the appearance of the tabs:

  • turning title bar on only changes background tab colour temporarily - it is overridden on upgrade/reinstallation which leaves title bar on but turn the tabs the same colour again.
  • the x at the right of the tab is naturally grouped to look as though it refers to the next tab in the series because the tabs are hard to distinguish from one another
  • deselected tabs are the ones users look though to select their next task, therefore these should be the easiest to navigate and arguably have a higher importance for legibility than the active tab
  • the block of colour formed with the tabs and title bar breaks the window formatting compared to virtually all other windows applications and feels and looks unnatural
  • the vertical line separating tabs is insufficient for clear demarcation
  • high contrast schemes make nearly all the issues raised far worse
  • users with poor vision find accessibility compromised with new tab colouring
  • no option to revert tabs to look like v28 which was a very popular format
  • addition of 3rd party skins only partially solves issue and is not practical for most commercial implementations
  • little to differentiate firefox from other mainstream browsers now - disenfranchising ff loyal user base
  • optimised for tablets but with little regard to computer users. FF is no longer appealing to its core user base
  • no evidence that any of these issues are addressed in v30+
  • no evidence that mozilla developers are taking these issues seriously, they appear to be satisfied with the title bar workaround.
  • no forum to ensure developers are clear there are usability issues for the new tab appearance

Modified by winsbury

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Ummm, I hope that the new tab schema doesn't make it into a full release. That black strip across the top has about 12 tabs in it. After about 15 seconds of no mouse movement, it does come back....