3 Tips to Make a Firefox Active Tab Stand Out From the Others

Ann Smarty 09-07-2011

Most active Internet users are tab-fanatics. We have lots of active tabs open at a time and we are constantly looking for more ways to better manage and organize them. No wonder then that we have had so much tab-related advice shared so far, including learning how to organize your Firefox open tabs with Tab Groups Organize Firefox Open Tabs With Tab Groups It's very easy to lose yourself amidst stacks of open tabs. The more tabs you open, the more difficult it is to keep track of them and to move between opened sites. Mozilla has tried... Read More as well as reading through many more tricks to to manage a TAB JAM.


But our tab advice is not solely focused on Firefox.  Why not try the 10 best extensions for Google Chrome tab management The 10 Best Extensions for Chrome Tab Management If you’re a multi-tasker, you love tabs. Maybe a little too much. Here are 10 extensions that will help you deal with the tab overload. Read More ?  Or learn how to how to manage tabs in Opera like a pro How to Manage Tabs in Opera Like a Pro Read More .

Today we’re not really going to be talking about managing your tabs. It’s about making your browser more usable by making the active tab in Firefox stand out.

1. Make the Active Tab Bigger

firefox active tab

One way to make your active tab stand out is to make it wider, compared to inactive tabs in the background.

To get started, install the Stylish FireFox addon and then use this user style to increase the size of a currently active tab. You can select the size for an active tab while installing (the default tab size in FireFox is 100, so I have found that the biggest size -150 – works best with me).


Tip! You can also customize the minimum width of your Firefox tabs with this FireFox addon [No Longer Available]):

active tabs

Note that the user style will enlarge your current tab even if they are minimized by addons like “Faviconize tabs”.

2. Highlight The Font On The Active Tab

active tabs


Another fun tweak that doesn’t really interfere with your user experience is using your FireFox profile userChrome.css to somehow change the look of your active tab (in terms of color and font). Here’s a great guide on locating your Firefox profile folder under various OS types.

Active tab

After you’ve found your profile folder, open the folder /chrome, open your userChrome.css (or userChrome-example.css) and edit it to contain the following:

tab[selected=”true”] {
color: blue !important;

tab {
-moz-appearance: none !important;

This code should color the font in the active tab in blue (unless there’s any addon installed that will interfere).


Now, save the file and re-start the browser.

You can also make the active tab font bold:

tab[selected=”true”] {
color: blue !important;

tab {
-moz-appearance: none !important;

Active tab font bold

Playing with this code, you can color the whole active tab in a different color of course, but that was just too bright for me. I wanted something less intrusive.


3. Darken Inactive Tabs

firefox active tab

Here’s another user style to somehow fade the inactive tabs. Just have it installed (again, you’ll need Style addon installed for that) and you’ll see your inactive tabs much darker.

Bonus! Easily Close All Inactive Tabs

Close other tabs [No Longer Available] does not change your browser tab look in any way but it makes it much easier to control all *other* tabs around it with your keyboard. With it installed, you can close inactive tabs using the following four keyboard shortcuts:

  • CTRL+Shift+F3 closes all tabs on the left of the active one.
  • CTRL+Shift+F4 closes all tabs except the active one.
  • CTRL+Shift+F5 closes all tabs on the right of the active one.
  • CTRL+Shift+F6 closes all tabs with the same domain as the active one.

(use Command instead of CTRL if you are using MAC OS).

The addon supports grouped tabs (Firefox Panorama Make Any New Browser Tab More Useful With 5 Custom Tools The new tab page on your browser does not have to be wasteland of empty white space. These useful tools can help you customize the tab page for productivity. Read More ) and app tabs.

Do you have any other tips to make the active tab in Firefox stand out? Are you aware of similar tricks for other browsers? Have you checked out or Firefox manual The User's Guide to Firefox Does your current browser have advanced security options? Does it sync your settings across devices? Can you manage your tabs easily? These are all things Firefox can do for you. Read More yet? Please share them in the comments!

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  1. no css
    January 12, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Modifying some .css is too much! I will better wait for a ready extension.

  2. jaybee
    July 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I used to make tab background-color extra bright but since v4 it's hidden behind the standard colour. Any way to remove that?

    • Ann Smarty
      July 17, 2011 at 6:52 am

      Hey Jaybee, unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the way in FireFox 4. Have you tried  Tab Mix Plus for that?

  3. Johnny_Reb
    July 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Tab Mix Plus is just enough for that and much more...without it I think I wouldn't even use Firefox.  :)

  4. irtigor
    July 11, 2011 at 5:48 am


    I usually read the name of the active tab in my top panel, so "just show the favicon" makes sense.

  5. Manu
    July 10, 2011 at 7:36 am

    This is really good....

  6. Anonymous
    July 10, 2011 at 5:37 am

    I would like something to show if the active tab is to the left or right of the ones that are currently visible so I know which way to scroll it to find it and the new tabs that will be opening.

  7. Geoff
    July 10, 2011 at 4:28 am

    I use Tab Mix Plus and ColorfulTabs. They overlap a bit but this is how it works out - Tab Mix Plus to bold the selected tab text and ColorfulTabs to highlight the selected tab and fade others.

    • Ann Smarty
      July 10, 2011 at 5:33 am

      Interesting. I never tried combining the two addons. Are there any other reasons you are using them both?

      • Geoff
        July 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

        Actually now that you mention it, I don't think Tab Mix Plus had tab color styling when I first started using it - it must have been way back in FF2 days. I guess I haven't been paying enough attention to all the updates :p

  8. Neowin
    July 10, 2011 at 3:07 am

    I can't found folder Chrome in profile