Firefox window on OS X opens from minimized state, cannot be clicked

Steve Endow
Steve Endow used Ask the Experts™
I am new to OS X, seeing if I can transition from Windows to Mac.  I use Firefox on Windows and Mac, and while it works well, there is one odd behavior on OS X.

I typically keep 7 or 8 tabs open in Firefox:  Yahoo, NY Times, WSJ, LA Times, Slashdot, etc.  I then minimize Firefox when I'm not actively browsing.

On OS X, the Firefox window will suddenly open.  When this happens, even though the window is visible, the window is not "active".  I cannot move or resize the window, and I can't click on tabs on the browser.  But, when I click on the open Firefox window, the Firefox menu bar does appear at the top of OS X.  The Firefox window is displayed in a lighter gray color.

To make the window active, I have to either go to the Window menu and select the Firefox window from the list, or click on the Firefox icon on the right side of the Dock.  Once I select it, the Firefox window either redisplays completely, or switches to the slightly darker gray color to indicate it has focus and is active.

My only guess is that one of the web pages I have open is doing an automatic page refresh, and that is causing the Firefox window to open, even though OS X thinks Firefox is still minimized.  OS X then keeps the window disabled, even though I try and click on it.

Has anyone else seen this?  Any ideas or workarounds?
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Have not seen that specifically, but have seen similar oddities. I assume the most current version of Firefox? When that little Window is visible, click in the "Window" menu and determine what the window is called -- maybe that will be a clue as to why it is opening.

If nothing else, I'd go to Tools--> Clear recent history and choose to clear "Everything" and under "Details" choose all the options.

Please report back any additional info.


Ya, it's a new install on a new Mac Mini, so it's Firefox 17.0.1 on OS X 10.8.2.

I just resumed the Mac from sleep, opened Firefox, then minimized it, and the problem happened right away.

Attached are two screen shots.  The first shows Firefox visible, but not "active".  Under the Windows menu, you see My Yahoo, the title for the first tab, but there is no check next to it.  I couldn't click on any tabs, and couldn't minimize or close Firefox, and you can see that a few tabs were still loading--the blue circles on those tabs weren't moving.  It as if Firefox is frozen and not responding, but there doesn't seem to be an actual problem with the app.

Once I click on Window -> My Yahoo, Firefox instantly becomes "active".  The title bar has slight gray shading, and the "My Yahoo" text goes from faded to dark, and the red / yellow / green buttons in the upper left corner become accessible.  In previous tests, clicking on the minimized Firefox in the Dock seemed to activate it as well.

I don't think I have seen this issue with any other apps, so my guess is that it is Firefox specific.  I guess it could be an Add-on I'm using is causing some problem.

I'll try:

1. Disabling most add-ons
2. I'll try using Safari and Chrome for a while with similar tabs loaded to see if they exhibit similar behavior
3. Try uninstalling Firefox completely and reinstalling (hail mary)


Well, I think I confirmed my theory, but unfortunately I don't have any good solutions.

I Quit Firefox, then launched it again.  While the tabs were still loading, I minimized it by pressing Command M.  Within a few seconds (presumably when the pages had all loaded), the Firefox window popped open.  Although the red/yellow/green buttons were colored, I couldn't click on any tabs or use the browser.  I had to go to the Windows menu to reactivate Firefox.

I'll try this on my Macbook Air to see if it behaves the same, and I'll see if Safari or Chrome do something similar.

Seems unlikely that I'm the only person on the planet having this issue, but I don't even know what to google for this type of issue.
Since I was able to figure out how to consistently reproduce it, I was able to track down what I believe to be the cause of the problem.

I use RoboForm, which has an integrated Firefox toolbar.  It seems the RoboForm extension is causing the problem.  When I disable it, the problem doesn't occur.  When I enable it again, the problem occurs.

I'll submit a support case with them and see if they can reproduce.

Thanks for the help, it at least got me started in a different direction to figure it out.


I was able to identify the cause of the problem with continued testing.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial