How to use Firebug to inspect hover and active CSS styles

Firebug is a web development tool for Firefox which allows you to inspect the HTML, CSS, Javascript and more as it loads in the browser. Firebug is a must have tool for the novice and professional alike.

If you’re not already familiar with Firebug I highly suggest you visit their website to check it out.

What most people aren’t aware of is how to use it to get styles from objects when they’re in the :hover, :active or :focus states – for example inspecting the styles applied to a drop down menu when the mouse hovers over – which is the :hover state.

To see the styles for the :hover state:

  1. Install the Firebug addon for Firefox 
  2. Go to the website you want to inspect
  3. Open the Firebug console by either clicking on the little Firebug icon at the top right of the screen or pressing F12 on the keyboard
  4. Use the inspect tool to select the item (this tool can be found at top left of the Firebug console – it’s the little blue pointer)
  5. Firebug-Inspect1
  6. Then at the right of the Firebug console click on the ‘Style’ tab and select the state you’re interested in, for example ‘:hover’
  7. Firebug-Inspect2
  8. The styles in the window will now include the :hover state!


Help – I Can’t see the item I want to inspect!

The item is likely being hidden using display: none. Use Firebug to inspect the CSS styles applied to the item and the parent and change it to display: block.