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Saturday, October 8, 2011

"List all Tabs" in Firefox 7 has different backgrounds for onscreen and off-screen tabs

A few days ago, my Firefox automatically updated to version 7.0.1 and ever since it's one new feature (which hasn't been advertised as a feature at all) has been bugging me; because I was not able to understand what it does.!. The feature in question is the different background color for some tabs in the "List All Tabs" menu - The menu that you get when you click the small (almost inconspicuous) inverted triangle between the "New Tab" (+) and the "Window minimize" (-) buttons.

The first time I saw the differential background I thought it was like the read and unread tabs, like one of the tab management add-ons does. But no. No matter how many times I read the page in a tab, it's background color did not change.

The next thought was that it corresponded to background tabs which are lazily loaded, i.e. the page is not actually loaded from the internet until you bring that tab to focus. But no, it was not even this. Even after several visits some tabs stayed with dark background.

No amount of searching on the internet helped at that time and I had to calm myself down and let go off the quest for this eternal answer. Finally today I gave it another shot with some variations in search strings and I landed on this page which lists all the changes in version 7.0. Here I started searching for any bug related to tabs and finally got the right bug. This bug states the purpose of differential background color in the tabs list.

As the bug states, the dark colored (highlighted) tabs are the ones which are currently displayed on the screen in the tab bar and the light colored ones are scrolled off the screen (horizontally). The rationale is that, this will make it very easy to figure out where a particular tab that you are looking for is, in case you are confused about it's position.
I am yet to see the feature being actually useful. Nevertheless, for the moment I am happy that I know what the feature does. :)

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