Closed Bug 583197 Opened 11 years ago Closed 10 years ago

Accessibility: Message window To,From,Subject titles very feint and hard to see (grey text on a grey background)


(Thunderbird :: Message Reader UI, defect)

17 Branch
Windows 7
Not set


(thunderbird10+ fixed)

Thunderbird 11.0
Tracking Status
thunderbird10 + fixed


(Reporter: bjl, Assigned: andreasn)


(Keywords: access)


(5 files, 1 obsolete file)

User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-GB; rv: Gecko/20100722 Firefox/3.6.8 ( .NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Build Identifier: 3.1.1

Not so much a bug but a plea to make something easier to see. Please see attachment TB311-headers1.png. This shows that when reading a message the To, From, CC, Subject titles are darker grey on a lighter grey background. Greater contrast between between text colour and background would be much appreciated.

But for me it's actually worse. I have tweaked my windows colour to make 3d Objects a darker grey in order that text stands out more. Unfortuneately this makes the To,From,CC,Subject title text invisible (see TB311-headers2.png).

The trend these days is to have minimal contrast between text colour and background colour. This makes life really hard for some of us. If people really think those colours schemes are good please at least let us change them.

Reproducible: Always
Version: unspecified → 3.1
The solution may be to allow the title text to use the colour set by the Windows 3d Object settings. The backgrouond seems to obey these settings, why not the text?
Severity: enhancement → normal
Have you tried safe mode? (see for more information) ?

Are you using non default windows themes ?
Yes. I do not use the default Windows theme. Essentially I use an adaptation of the Windows High Contrast Black scheme. I need white text on a black background. But the Windows HCB as given makes it very hard to separate one window from another - windows all merge into a mess. So I set 3d objects to be grey (a slightly darker grey than the default). This makes windows stand out from each other and gives greater contrast with the 3d Object font colour.

I initially filed this as a request. Then when I thought that the 3d Object background colour setting had been used but not the 3d Object font setting I changed it to a bug.

I've been reply to emails that were only CC'd to me because I couldn't see who they were to. I don't recall this problem with TB2.
To demonstrate the problem go to the Windows colour settings and select 3d Objects. Change the Oject colour to say orange and the text colour to say blue.

You will see the background of the message headers section go orange. But the title text (To, CC, Subject etc) stays grey and does not go blue.

It should obey the 3d Object setting.
Indeed, .headerName is hard coded to #888a85
I wonder if it might be a good idea to use opacity and set it to some percentage of the text color. This would mean that the color of them would be less prominent than the regular info.
Attached patch super-quick patch to fix this (obsolete) — Splinter Review
Try this!
I can't find a messageheader.css file on Windows.
I can't find a messageheader.css file on Windows.
I've just turned on View All Headers to check the origin oa an email and deiscovered I have exactly the same problem here. The titles eg. "Received From" are barely visible to me in Windows default colours (grey text on a grey background) but completely invisible in the colour scheme I use.
Attachment #462395 - Flags: review?(bwinton)
For Blake's review.
Attached patch updated patchSplinter Review
Blake asked me via e-mail to add the /* lower contrast */ comment after "opacity: 0.5;" so we know why we're doing that.
Attachment #462395 - Attachment is obsolete: true
Attachment #483930 - Flags: review?(bwinton)
Attachment #462395 - Flags: review?(bwinton)
So, I like the code changes in the patch, but it sounds like BJ is still having the same problem, so I don't know if this patch actually fixes the bug.
BJ: Were you able to apply the patch to your local build?
Just want to double check if the problem still remains.
To ease review.
The previous screenshot was for HighContrast and Classic.
I haven't applied the patch because I don't know how to. Also I use Thunderbird at work so it's difficult to find time. Do I need to compile from source somehow?

I'm still on public release 3.1.4
Comment on attachment 483930 [details] [diff] [review]
updated patch

the grey-on-black is a *little* hard to read, but it's _way_ better than the previous version.  r=me, and thank you for the screenshots!
Attachment #483930 - Flags: review?(bwinton) → review+
As I mentioned on IRC, it would be good to have a way to detect that you're running the High Contrast theme on Windows and make those labels all white in that case (like how one can detect if we're running Classic or Aero). Will open a bug and see if we can get some traction on that.
I don't think it's that straightforward. The High contrast scehmes as givem by Microsoft are awful. I have modified it to suite my needs so the theme has the name I've given to it.

Why not just use the user set colours in TB for the labels as well as the data? Or allow the label colour itself to be set?
You can set the label color through your own custom Thunderbird theme, I would not like to clutter the preferences windows with that.

Even though the default HC theme is awful, I would assume most users who need a HC theme would select that anyway, based on the power of defaults.
I haven't found the feature where I can set my own custom theme (beyond setting message font and background colour - which I set to white on black, and wish would propagate to all parts of TB and Lightning). I've searched the config editer and haven't found any options for header colour.

I've just installed 3.1.5 at home (3.1.4 at work tells me it's the latest version!). I see the header background colour is taken from the Windows 3d Object. Why not take the header font colour, and label colour, from the 3d Object setting too?

When viewing all headers I'd actually like a new window to open to show them. This would mean less scrolling where there are a lot of headers, and provide the ability to copy and paste them.
In Thunderbird 5, the aero transparency makes all black text in headers  unclear. I had to switch of aero transparecy in all windows to ensure Thunderbird and Mozill Firefor was readable.
I still have this probelm with TB5
1. After much searching and experimentation, I found that Windows 7 'aero' transparency was on. This coloured the Thunderbird heading from my desktop background and the transparency of Thunderbird obscured the buttons and heading text written in black text. I switched off 'aero' transparency  and set borders to a light colour. Buttons now readable.
Thanks but as far as I can tell I'm not using Aero.

When I reported the problem I was using XP which doesn't have Aero. Now I'm nusing a non Aero based theme and when I run the Aero trouble shooter it tells me I'm using a mirror driver (whatever that is) which doesn't support Aero.

I've looked and looked and looked and I can't find where you set transparancy off. But, as I say, I don't seem to be using Aero anyway.
Andreas: does this patch need landing?
Assignee: nobody → nisses.mail
Ever confirmed: true
Upgraded to TB 8 yesterday and this issue still stands.

Since the background colour is taken from the Widows 3D Object setting can I suggest that the text colour is also taken from the 3D Objects setting.
Yeah, I think you're still seeing it because the patch never landed…  :(

Let's see if we can fix that for now.  (I'm also going to request approval to push it up to aurora, cause it seems like a small, simple, worthwhile fix.)
Keywords: checkin-needed
Comment on attachment 483930 [details] [diff] [review]
updated patch

(As mentioned before, it's a simple patch that helps things, and should probably have been checked in a while ago.)
Attachment #483930 - Flags: approval-comm-aurora?
We should probably update this in the other places that color is used (off the top of my head, I think it's used for the attachment total size in the reader and composer).
Checked in as
Closed: 10 years ago
Keywords: checkin-needed
Resolution: --- → FIXED
Target Milestone: --- → Thunderbird 11.0
Attachment #483930 - Flags: approval-comm-aurora? → approval-comm-aurora+
(In reply to Jim Porter (:squib) from comment #31)
> We should probably update this in the other places that color is used (off
> the top of my head, I think it's used for the attachment total size in the
> reader and composer).

Checking or other places where this problem exists would be brilliant. I've just become aware of  bug 671119 where the Lightening developers are working on the same problem throughout the Lightinig UI.

This is all terrific. Thank you all.
Please can we re-open this bug. The problem never did get fixed and is still there in TB 17.0.5. It now extends to the Show All Headers display. I used to be able to check the headers by viewing the message source but this facility seems to have gone.

If I repeated my original screen shots with TB17 they would look the same.

Since my orignal post my email address has changed. I'm posting this comment before I try to change my Bugzilla config in case I lose access to this bug report.
OS: Windows XP → Windows 7
Version: 3.1 → 17
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