Not that long ago I updated my Google Chrome browser to the 12.0.7 etc version and I notices a new feature. If you hover on the tabs, there is a slight glow around your cursor, something like this (look at the cursor pointer):

Chrome feature

Hope you can see it. It's just a little white aura around it. It kind of makes you look at the pointer a little bit more. I was wondering what's the reason for the feature. My first thought was that they wanted to "alert" the user of the cursor position, this maybe coming from users clicking on the CLOSE icon without wanting it.

What do you think this is for?.

  • 3
    This is to convince nerds to quit using firefox. j/k. more seriously, I think it's just interface sugar.
    – jokoon
    Jun 27 '11 at 18:08
  • hahahaha very good ;) Jun 27 '11 at 21:08
  • It's beautiful, that's what it's for. I spent like 5 minutes swishing my mouse over my task bar when I got Windows 7 because of this.
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 9 '11 at 21:50

It does ever so subtly draw focus on the tab under the cursor.

Windows 7 does a similar thing in the icons on the start bar except they pick the dominant colour of the icon. Here's a snip from the msdn blog: ( http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2008/11/20/happy-anniversary-windows-on-the-evolution-of-the-taskbar.aspx )

"Color hot-track is a small touch that typifies the new taskbar’s personality. When a person moves her mouse over a running program on the taskbar, she will be pleasantly surprised to find that a light source tracks her mouse and the color of the light is actually based on the icon itself. We calculate the most dominant RGB of the icon and dynamically paint the button with this color. Color hot-track provides a delight factor, it offers feedback that a program is running and it showcases a program’s icon. We’ve always believed that programs light up the Windows platform and now, we’re returning the favor."

So - perhaps Google too are just out to delight us too - and because they can.


Quite simply, I think it's just a way of making the user feels the app is responsive to them. The glow is a subtle 'alive' signal that keeps the application from feeling too static.

This is more important than you might think. Users distrust software - they're usually suspicious an app will either not work as expected, or won't work at all (i.e. it just freezes). A little response here and there makes them confident that the tool they're using is going to work, and in the ways they expect.

There are other ways of making an application feel 'active' - but they're usually distracting and annoying, like status notifications and animated icons.

  • Are there any studies or documentation where we can learn about this "users suspicious that software will not work as expected"? I'd like to document myself about this since UI design is part of my job.
    – GetFree
    Feb 8 '16 at 20:32

Actually the glow effect is not applied to the cursor, it's applied the to tab itself and i think it has been added for a better readability, the reason why i would disagree on the point that this feature was added to help people not to close tabs accidentally is because they already solved this problem by a red circle around the close button on hover, and a tooltip says close.

and by the way, you would love to know this, they enhanced closing tabs in this release, open so many tabs, hover on "close" on one of them, keep the cursor in the same position and keep clicking. this will close all the tabs opened without worrying about clicking close on each one.

  • Yeah, I noticed that, that's just smart thinking, they are very good! That's why I wonder, what's the argument behind this "glow" on the tab?... Could you expand a little bit more on that "readability"point of yours?. How would readability improve by that?. Jun 27 '11 at 15:50
  • @Mathew thanks, i can't believe i misspelled both. Jun 27 '11 at 15:54
  • 1
    I have version 11, and the glow follows the cursor as I move it over the tab -- that's what the OP asked about. Jun 27 '11 at 15:57
  • 1
    Yes it follows the cursor while it moves, but it's not applied to the cursor technically, if you're using windows 7, hover over the items on the task bar, they have the same effect Jun 27 '11 at 16:01

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