How to make selected tab in terminal more prominent

Something about the color scheme changed in 11.04, and now it’s very difficult for me to tell which tab is the selected one.

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On my screen, the colors look more similar the further down I slouch in my chair (i.e. angle of view).

If I change the color scheme the problem is solved, but that solution is too extreme for me. Is there a way to just change the color of the selected tab in terminal, or otherwise make it more prominent?

UPDATE: In 12.10 the accepted solution doesn’t work. Can anyone fix it?

Here is Solutions:

We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first solution because it is tested & true solution that will 100% work for you.

Solution 1

For 12.10–15.04 you can create a CSS theme for GTK 3.0 as explained in this comment by Kees (kees-vanveen) on the bug report posted above by Alessio.

  1. Create the file ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

  2. Paste this as the contents using your desired color:

    TerminalWindow .notebook tab:active {
        background-color: #def;
  3. Close all Terminal windows and relaunch the application to see the change.

Solution 2

I’m not that much of a theme hacker, but here’s a quick fix:

Create or edit the file ~/.gtkrc-2.0 to include the following:

style "gnome_terminal_notebook"
  fg[NORMAL] = "#00ff00"

widget "*TerminalWindow.*.GtkNotebook*" style "gnome_terminal_notebook"

This will turn the text color of the active tab green. Not very beautiful, but should give you a start.

You could also lighten up the highlighted tab by replacing the fg line with:

bg[NORMAL] = shade (1.25, "#3c3b37")

The downside: this will also make the inner borders brighter.

Note: This will influence every theme you choose in the appearance properties, so don’t forget to undo those changes when using another theme.

Solution 3

Using Ubuntu’s warm grey in, this is a small variation of David’s:

TerminalWindow .notebook tab {
    background-color: #e2e0dd;

TerminalWindow .notebook tab:active {
    background-color: #f2f1f0;

The color of other tabs here is slightly darker.

Solution 4

You can hack the theme and change colors that way. I did that years ago when a theme I otherwise liked didn’t have enough contrast.

Themes installed system-wide live in /usr/share/themes, while your own themes live in ~/.themes. If the theme you’re modifying is a system-wide theme, I suggest copying it to ~/.themes and renaming it before making changes. Otherwise, your changes will get overwritten the next time the package responsible for those files gets upgraded.

Solution 5

For Ubuntu 16.04, create a file named ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css, and place the following into it:

TerminalWindow .notebook tab:active {
    background-color: #b0c0f0;


Note: Use and implement solution 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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