As I posted in an answer to this question, there are several ways to achieve this.
On the jQuery documents, they propose to do the following to find the index of the currently open tab:
var $tabs = $('#example').tabs(); var selected = $tabs.tabs('option', 'selected'); // => 0
However, this is impractical if you need to do a lot with that tab. Why they don't yet provide a more practical solution of getting the actual element, I'm unsure, however, through use of jQuery there is an easy solution you can create yourself.
In the following code i'll show you just how easy it is to do anything you want with the current tab:
var curTab = $('.ui-tabs-panel:not(.ui-tabs-hide)'), curTabIndex = curTab.index(), // will get you the index number of where it sits curTabID = curTab.prop("id"), // will give you the id of the tab open if existant curTabCls = curTab.attr("class"); // will give you an array of classes on this tab // etc .... // now, if you wanted a little more depth, for instance specific tabs area (if you have multiple tabs on your page) you can do simply add to your selector statement var curTab = $('#myTabs_1 .ui-tabs-panel:not(.ui-tabs-hide)'); // then you can make simple calls to that tab and get whatever data or manipulate it how you please curTab.css("background-color", "#FFF");