Highlighting the Header of a Filtered Column in a QTableView using PyQt5

What will you learn?

In this tutorial, you will master the art of highlighting the header of a filtered column in a QTableView using PyQt5. This enhancement will make your data filtering operations more visually appealing and user-friendly.

Introduction to the Problem and Solution

When dealing with extensive datasets in a QTableView, filtering data based on specific criteria is a common practice. However, it can be challenging for users to identify which column is being filtered at a glance. By altering the style of the header for the filtered column, we can provide visual cues that streamline user experience.

To address this issue, we will leverage PyQt5’s custom styling capabilities to dynamically modify the appearance of the header when filtering particular columns. This customization will not only enhance the aesthetics of your application but also improve its usability.


# Import necessary libraries
import sys
from PyQt5.QtWidgets import QApplication, QMainWindow, QTableView
from PyQt5.QtGui import QColor

class CustomHeaderStyle(QHeaderView):
    def __init__(self, parent=None):
        super(CustomHeaderStyle, self).__init__(Qt.Horizontal, parent)

    def paintSection(self, painter: QPainter(), rect: QRect(), logicalIndex: int):
        if logicalIndex == YOUR_FILTERED_COLUMN_INDEX:
            painter.fillRect(rect.adjusted(2, 2), QColor(255, 0, 0))


# Implementing within your application    
app = QApplication(sys.argv)
table_view = QTableView()
header = CustomHeaderStyle(table_view)

# Display your table view as usual


# Copyright PHD


To create custom styles for headers in Qt applications using PyQt5:

  1. Custom Header Style Class: Subclass QHeaderView to craft a custom header class.
  2. paintSection Method Override: Override paintSection method within our custom class to define custom painting logic.
  3. Conditional Styling: Conditionally check if the current section matches our filtered column index during painting.
  4. Changing Header Style: Modify the background color of that specific section (header) based on our condition.

By following these steps and integrating this code snippet into your application correctly, you can effectively highlight headers of filtered columns in your QTableView.

  1. How do I determine my filtered column index?

  2. The filter applied corresponds directly with its respective model’s structure; hence you need to keep track or programmatically identify which columns are currently being used for filtering.

  3. Can I apply different styles other than color changes?

  4. Yes! You can customize various aspects such as font size/style/color or even add icons depending on your requirements.

  5. Is it possible to animate these style changes?

  6. While not directly supported through stylesheets like CSS animations in web development, PyQt provides animation support through its animation framework allowing you to animate any property changes over time.

  7. Will this work with multiple filters simultaneously?

  8. Indeed! By extending upon this concept with additional conditional checks per filter criterion, you can accommodate multiple simultaneous filters while providing visual feedback accordingly.

  9. How do I handle dynamic repositioning of headers post-filtering operation?

  10. You may need to trigger repaint events post-filter operations or use signals/slots mechanism between data models and views for real-time updates.


Elevating user interface functionalities like highlighting filtered columns not only enhances visual appeal but also facilitates user interactions and comprehension of displayed data structures efficiently within the PyQt environment.

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