My workflow involves a lot application windows, mostly terminals. With a very large dual screen setup, I find myself regularly looking for the currently active window. More than often I type in the wrong terminal, or even start typing in a browser window, because I thought the active window was somewhere else.

I could not find a way to change window properties such as opacity and border / title bar colour. My title bars are either light grey (active) or very light grey (inactive). I am looking for hints on how to make it visually more prominent where the currently active window is.

(Note: I am not looking for keyboard shortcuts or anything that requires interaction)


There isn't a lot that's easily customizable about color schemes on OS X. One suggestion is that if you're using the Graphite color scheme, switch to the Blue color scheme. In earlier versions of OS X,there used to be quite a bit of difference between them, and many developers went with the more subdued Graphite scheme, but by Lion, one of the only surviving differences is the traffic-light dots in the upper left corner of a window. In the graphite color scheme, they're all grey, but in the "blue" scheme, they're colored when the window is the active one.

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Besides the brighter metal borders of inactive windows, the shadows are a good indicator to distinguish an active window from an inactive window.

Active windows have a much more emphasized shadow.

In order to increase the visual impact I recommend to use a bright, monocolor background. This will create a maximum contrast in the shadow area.

enter image description here

  • Unfortunately I use a black background for both my terminals and my desktop. Not really interested in having 300 times as many photons hit my eyes 12 hours a day to view the same information. – sam hocevar Jun 28 '12 at 9:41
  • @SamHocevar I knew that you would say that. :) Anyway, I just wanted to add my two cents. – gentmatt Jun 28 '12 at 21:15
  • shadows? Bah! I want red or green for my active window. I want to be able to tell using only my peripheral vision that some app has stolen focus. Shadows are way to subtle. – user59922 Oct 20 '13 at 23:02

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