Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fix KDE Unreadable Tooltip Text/Background Colours in Firefox

In a recent update to Firefox (v46), when running under KDE on Kubuntu 14.04, the choice of text colour when hovering over images or other items in the browser that pop up a tooltip was essentially unreadable. Here's an example:

This is due to Firefox (for whatever reason) using the "WindowText" system colour rather than the "TooltipText" colour.

There are a couple of ways to fix it. The first is to go into the "Colors — KDE Control Module" and select a new colour scheme that has a better contrast in those two colours. Out of the defaults in KDE, I found Honeycomb, Norway, Obsidian Coast, Oxygen Cold and Zion all looked okay.

The other way is to override the tooltip colours.

On the same dialog, click the "Colors" tab, and find the Tooltip Background colour. If it's a dark colour, change it to something light, or light if it starts dark. You might also want to change the Tooltip Text colour to complement it.

Another option is to change the Window Text colour, but this colour is used in many more places, so will affect the look of all other applications.

This thread on the Arch Linux forum has a lengthy discussion on the issue.

Addendum: for Tree Style Tab users, changing the colour settings doesn't help. The selected tab highlights itself using the Window Text colour, the same colour as the text. To get around that one I changed to the Oxygen theme, rather than the default theme. That fixes most things up, but some sites override the colour of the text in dropdown boxes, but don't override the it becomes close to unreadable. Annoying.


  1. Hello Ashtonit.
    This looks like the solution I have been looking for several weeks. Also I am wrestling with unreadable tooltips - at present in Firefox 47 along with Kubuntu 14.04 LTS and KDE 4.13.3.

    However, I do not manage to find "KDE Control Module".

    In SYSTEM SETTINGS, I have found the button COLOR, aimed at managing "color correction of devices". But when pressing at that button, I do not find the dialogue you show here above.

    Can you please help me this "KDE Control module"?

    Is there e.g. any command line command that can help me to get it running?

    Or do I need to look elsewhere in SYSTEM SETTINGS?

    Thanks and have a good weekend.


    Bas G. Roufs.

    1. In System Settings, go to Application Appearance -> Colors. Alternatively just search for "colors" in the main menu.

      Changing the color scheme still isn't perfect -- it seems to depend on the form in question.

  2. PS. Later this year, I will install Kubuntu 16.04 LTS at my laptop. However, I need some "workaround" for now.

  3. In the mean time, someone at the Kubuntu users mailing list has pointed me at a simple, but effective workaround for users of Kubuntu 14.04:
    SYSTEM SETTINGS > Application Appearance > GTK > Select a GTK 3 theme > switch from from "Ogygen-GTK" to "default". After this, close and restart Firefox. Now, the tooltips have a yellow background and black fonts - not the utmost beautiful solution, but it works for now.

  4. See also:

  5. In my 14.04 KDE 4.13.3:

    System Settings-> Application Appearance->Colors->Colors/Common Colors->Tooltip Background->{Something light-colored}

    I tried 16.04 but was forced to goo with KDE 5 which is missing too many features. Went back to 14.04. Beware.

    1. I've got Kubuntu 16.04 on my laptop and another desktop. It required some tweaking and had a couple of issues, but was entirely usable. What were the problems you had?