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Apr 12, 2001
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Safari 15 has faced a barrage of complaints about its controversial new design, and while Apple has listened to user feedback and reversed some changes or made them optional, many users still struggle to discern an active tab from a background tab on the Mac browser because of the inverted shading.

safari-15-tabs.jpg

Unfortunately for users who do not like the new design, Apple has not made any changes to the shading of tabs in either the Safari 15.1 beta or the latest version of the experimental Safari Technology Preview browser.

Fortunately however, developer Zhenyi Tan was inspired by John Gruber's Daring Fireball article about the issue and has since come up with a simple Safari extension called ActiveTab that provides a solution.

ActiveTab simply makes it easier to spot the active tab in Safari on Mac by drawing a line underneath it. There are eight colors to choose from, and the line below the tab can be customized to be between 1 and 7 pixels wide.

active-tabs.jpg

As Zhenyi notes, the extension works best with the "Separate" tab layout selected and "Show color in tab bar" disabled in the Tab section of Safari's Preferences. Zhenyi also cautions that ActiveTab will not work reliably if you have so many tabs in a window that the tab bar becomes scrollable.

ActiveTab is available for $1.99 on the Mac App Store, with no in-app purchases, no ads, and no tracking.

(H/T MacStories.)

Article Link: Safari 15 Extension for Mac Helps You Tell Which Tab Is Active
 

SilverWalker

macrumors member
Jun 7, 2021
39
56
Lighter tabs are lighter because they are in the foregrounds - there is more light on them; darker tabs are darker because they are in the background - there is less light on them. It is 101. I can't understand why a designer at Apple would go the opposite way to this. There have been other controls in Mac OS / iOS that have done the same thing, and it is always confusing what the currently selection option is. Design is supposed to get out of the way, it should be 'invisible' so that we can use something without having to think about it.
 

baryon

macrumors 68040
Oct 3, 2009
3,734
2,426
I use auto dark/light mode: light during the day, dark at night. In dark mode, the lighter tab is active. In light mode, the darker tab is active. When the mouse hovers over a tab, it becomes the same color as the active tab. It's terrible design! Even in DOS things were more visible.
 

soaddk

macrumors member
Mar 17, 2012
80
83
Aarhus, Denmark
Lighter tabs are lighter because they are in the foregrounds - there is more light on them; darker tabs are darker because they are in the background - there is less light on them. It is 101. I can't understand why a designer at Apple would go the opposite way to this. There have been other controls in Mac OS / iOS that have done the same thing, and it is always confusing what the currently selection option is. Design is supposed to get out of the way, it should be 'invisible' so that we can use something without having to think about it.

It's not that black and white (no pun intended). UI-design 101 also says that if you add contrast between an element and the background you make it stand out more. This is what Apple is doing. By having a dark grey against a light background for the active tab and having other tabs being light grey against a light background you lessen their contrast thereby making them fall into the background.

Have you ever seen buttons where the transparency is 50% for inactice/non-selected elements? This is the same thing. The active element having more contrast to the background makes it seem to "pop" more than it's 50% siblings.

Also - this is also only an issue when you have ONLY two tabs in your browser. It's an edge-case. But people here like to complain about everything....
 

Marbles1

macrumors 6502
Nov 27, 2011
325
1,706
Sad that a third party needs to fix this.

Is there anyway to make the browser tabs appear below the Favourites Bar?
 

NightFox

macrumors 68030
May 10, 2005
2,790
3,217
Shropshire, UK
I don't understand why it seems that this only became officially bad when John Gruber said it was?

It's not as if no one had noticed until the Daring Fireball article.
 
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baryon

macrumors 68040
Oct 3, 2009
3,734
2,426
It's not that black and white (no pun intended). UI-design 101 also says that if you add contrast between an element and the background you make it stand out more. This is what Apple is doing. By having a dark grey against a light background for the active tab and having other tabs being light grey against a light background you lessen their contrast thereby making them fall into the background.

Have you ever seen buttons where the transparency is 50% for inactice/non-selected elements? This is the same thing. The active element having more contrast to the background makes it seem to "pop" more than it's 50% siblings.

Also - this is also only an issue when you have ONLY two tabs in your browser. It's an edge-case. But people here like to complain about everything....
They're actually doing the opposite: in light mode, the active tab has a dark grey background and black text. An inactive tab has a light grey background and black text. Which has more contrast? The inactive tab. Makes no sense. The tab itself has less contrast within itself, which makes it look "disabled" or inactive.

Also having 2 tabs is quite common if you don't hoard tabs.

Add the fact that your eyes only see clearly towards the center of the field of vision, you are only ever seeing a handful of tabs at once, if your screen is big enough. Always having to glance over at the other tabs and think "so which type of tab color do I have more of?" is not really intuitive.

Then add the fact that if you hover the mouse over any tab it changes color to match the active tab. So now you have two tabs that look identical, which one is active?

I know, I know, with some logic and strategical thinking, you can always figure it out. But these things should be automatic and take no time, or as some say they should be "intuitive". The current design is not intuitive.
 

Ybersetzer

macrumors member
May 3, 2019
73
54
Germany
I just tried it out. Seemed to work fine initially, but when I tested it with tab groups that had more, like 10 tabs open, it would display the bright line either in the middle of two tabs (one of which was the active one), or waaaaayyy off to the side. Uninstalled it and will return the app. Not ready for prime time and also: Apple will fix this in-house, at some point.
 

Wanted797

macrumors 65816
Oct 28, 2011
1,230
2,444
Australia
Don't most people run dark mode? Well, I do and my safari looks fine. The active tab is lighter than the inactive ones, just as you'd expect.
So design continuity isn’t kept between themes? That’s just dumb.

I don’t use dark mode cause I’m dyslexic and dark mode seems to make it more difficult.
 
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SilverWalker

macrumors member
Jun 7, 2021
39
56
It's not that black and white (no pun intended). UI-design 101 also says that if you add contrast between an element and the background you make it stand out more. This is what Apple is doing. By having a dark grey against a light background for the active tab and having other tabs being light grey against a light background you lessen their contrast thereby making them fall into the background.

Have you ever seen buttons where the transparency is 50% for inactice/non-selected elements? This is the same thing. The active element having more contrast to the background makes it seem to "pop" more than it's 50% siblings.

Also - this is also only an issue when you have ONLY two tabs in your browser. It's an edge-case. But people here like to complain about everything....
Good points! ^_^ Thanks for your comment. The issue I have with it is that one moment I am looking for the lightest tab, then a short while later (as I am now on a different background coloured web page) I have to look for the darkest tab. This flip flopping back and forth between 'convention' causes momentary confusion. Yes, just as others, we can figure it out - but the thing is - we shouldn't have to be doing this.
 
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