Saturday, August 8, 2009

How to change the background color of web pages in your browser

If you spend too much time browsing the web on your computer, you may start to notice that you're getting too much darkness around your eyes. It's because of this white background color on most web pages, it's slowly turning you into a raccoon. Luckily, this can be changed.

Most web browsers allow you to control the colors of web pages. Here's how to change the background and text colors in all the popular browsers:

Internet Explorer
  1. On the menu, go to Tools > Internet Options
  2. On the Internet Options dialog box, click the Colors button (at the bottom left corner).
  3. Uncheck the Use Windows colors check box, then change the text and background colors to the colors you want (I use black for the background and grey for the text), then click OK.
  4. Next, click the Accessibility button (this time at the bottom right corner).
  5. Check the Ignore colors specified on Web pages check box and click OK.
  6. Click OK on the Internet Options dialog box to close it and apply the new settings.
  1. On the menu, go to Tools > Options
  2. On the Options dialog box, click the Content tab (at the top)
  3. Now, click the Colors button.
  4. Uncheck the Use system colors check box and select the colors you want for the background and text (black and grey for example)
  5. Uncheck the Allow pages to choose their own colors, instead of my selections above check box
  6. Click OK to close the Colors dialog box.
  7. Click OK to close the Options dialog box and apply the new settings

It's a little trickier with Opera but fortunately it's still possible.
  1. Create a new text file (using Notepad or your favorite text editor) and copy and paste the code below into it, save the file anywhere you want but remember where you saved it (you may name the file opera.css, but this is optional, you can give it any other name you like)
        background: transparent !important;
        color: #C0C0C0 !important;
        border-color: #C0C0C0 !important;
    html, body
        background: #000 !important;
    a:link, a:hover, a:active
        color: #00E !important;
        color: #551A8B !important;
  2. Now in Opera, on the menu, go to Tools > Preferences
  3. Click the Advanced tab
  4. On the left side, click Content
  5. Click the Style Options button
  6. On the Style Options dialog box, under My style sheet, select the file you created in step #1 (you'll replace the value already in there but this is ok)
  7. Now click the Presentation Modes tab (also on the Style Options dialog box).
  8. By default, you should only have The Page style sheet and Page fonts and colors check boxes checked under both the Author mode and User mode (left and right), you should also have Default mode set to Author mode (the drop down list at the bottom right). Now, under the Author mode on the left, check the My style sheet check box and click OK.
  9. Click OK to close the Preferences dialog box and apply the new settings
Google Chrome

Unfortunately for Google Chrome, you can't control the page background or text colors (this is true as to the latest version at the time of writing this post, the version I have here is which is the latest version). The only solution I found was to use a bookmarklet, this is a short piece of code that you add to your bookmarks, you click it everytime you want to change the colors of the page (actually you can also paste it into your browser's address bar then press Enter to make it work). This is not really practical but it's all what you've got for now, hope google will fix this soon. I created this little bookmarklet for you which will change the background color to black and the text color to light grey (copy the code and paste it into the address bar in Google Chrome then press Enter, you should add it to your bookmarks to make it easier to change the color of the page by only clicking it):

javascript:(function(){var allElements=document.getElementsByTagName("*");for(var i=0;i<allElements.length;i++){var element=allElements[i];"#000 !important";"#C0C0C0 !important";"#C0C0C0 !important";if(element.tagName.toLowerCase()=="a"){"#00E !important";}}})()


Google Chrome now supports user stylesheets. This means you don't need to use any bookmarklets. Assuming you use Windows, change the page colors by going to "C:\Documents and Settings\{your windows user}\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\User StyleSheets" (change the drive letter if you have Windows installed on a drive other than C). Now, open the Custom.css file then copy and paste the same code above used with Opera and save the file.

You may also now use one of many Google Chrome extensions that allow you to control the page colors. For example, see the Change Colors extension.

Friday, February 13, 2009

How to make a textbox and a textarea same width across browsers

Update: It's been a long while since I've written this post. For a better way to solve this problem, please see (

Thanks to the *brilliant* CSS box model, very simple tasks have become a nightmare.

I've been struggling lately to do a very simple thing, which is to make a textbox (ie. <input type="text">) and a textarea same width so that they align nicely.

The problem with making a textbox and textarea same width is that all browsers add 1px padding to textboxes that can't be removed. In other words, setting the padding to 0px won't remove that 1px padding. A common trick to get rid of padding is to float the element but unluckily this doesn't work with textboxes. Well, this means we have extra 2px in the width of the textbox that we simply can't get rid of. Now, this wouldn't be a problem if the same thing applied to textreas as well but unfortunately this is not the case. In most browsers (IE, Safari and Chrome), setting the padding of a textrea to 0px *unfortunately* works. One exception to this is FireFox which applies the 1px non-removable padding to textareas as well. This is why the problem doesn't exist with FireFox. But, should we ignore IE, Safari and Chrome and assume everyone is using FireFox? I guess not, it definitely makes more sense to make it work in those browsers and find a hack for FireFox and actually this is what I did.

Having had a look on mozilla's website, I came across those two extensions to CSS:
-moz-padding-start and -moz-padding-end.

So, to make a textbox and a textrea same width across browsers you can use this code:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "">
<style type="text/css">
    padding: 0px;
    margin: 0px;
    width: 500px;
    -moz-padding-start: 1px;
    -moz-padding-end: 1px;
    width: 500px;
    padding: 1px;
<input type="text" id="textbox" /><br />
<textarea id="textarea"></textarea>

Adding 1px to the textrea makes the text look nicer than with no padding at all (with 0px padding, the text sticks to the border which is not visually appealing). In FireFox, we will have 2px padding for the textarea and 2px left and right padding for the textbox, but, visually speaking, it almost looks the same (try to view the code in FireFox).

This code was tested in IE, Safari, Chrome, FireFox and SeaMonkey (which uses the same rendering engine as FF) and worked perfectly. Note that this hack is not perfect. For example, Opera will display the textarea 2px wider than the textbox. For me I don't care about Opera very much (not so many people use it), besides it's only 2px, so, it's not something that will make your site unusable. There could probably be a hack for Opera too but again I'm not interested in Opera, so for me it's not worth the time. It probably won't work with other less popular browsers too. I tested it in the ones I care most about (2 extra pixels in a not popular browser is not a big deal. I can live with that).

In terms of rendering engines (aka layout engines), this will work with Trident based browsers (Internet Explorer), WebKit based browsers (Safari, Google Chrome and other browsers) and Gecko based browsers (FireFox, SeaMonkey and other browsers).

Please note that this won't work if the visual styles are not enabled in Windows XP or Vista (with the exception of FireFox and the other browsers that are based on the same engine), but as very few people (almost none) disable the visual styles so I'm not so worried about that one too.

Finally, if you're a control freak and want it to work in every browser then your last resort is javascript (I was working on that but gave up on it after I came up with this simple hack), but even this won't work if javascript is disabled in the browser.