Fixing strange web browser display problems.
July 9, 2007 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Why does my dad's computer display web browsers incorrectly? Is it possessed? How do I fix it?

My dad is older and somewhat computer impaired, and while I am somewhat computer savvy I have no idea what he did to his machine's display.

On any given web browser (Firefox and Explorer) there are lots of missing/blocked out/mis sized image and text items, to the point that it renders many sites unusable.

For instance, his gmail account page is totally black and white. Where tags should be small and green they are black, normal sized, and in merge into the rest of the subject line. Also, things like the star buttons are invisible and unclickable.

Similar things happen on other sites. For instance, with an online Airline booking site where it asks you to click your desired seat: on my computer an overhead image of a plane with clickable available seats was visible, on my dad's computer this image was mostly invisible and we had to click randomly to find open seats.

On many sites the the text is over sized to the point of running out of bounds. This often happens with buttons and labels. Sometimes (mostly on Explorer) the text comes up GINORMOUS... I do the ctrl + scroll button trick to get it down to simply huge text, but not nearly the correct size.

Other times stuff is blocked out, with large black bars covering text and icons. Specifically I noticed this earlier with Google Maps. When I pressed the print version of some directions I needed in the new window the directions were totally blacked out... they still printed fine fortunately.

Also, as a minor annoyance, his cursor sometimes is larger than normal, like a box instead of a thin line, or located one space ahead or behind where it actually types.

The strange thing is that some sites come up just fine, and others, with seemingly similar content are totally mangled.

It seems to only be web-browsers, but Explorer and Firefox both have the same type of problems. I have check each web-browsers settings in detail, and nothing there seems to be the cause.

He has had this problem for more than 6 months, and he can get by with it, mostly because he doesn't realize how screwed up the display really is. I find it impossible to use it for most internet tasks.

It is an “eMachines” Windows XP... basic computer in a box he picked up about 3 years ago from Best Buy. It has a bunch of random bloatware but nothing, that I can tell, that would cause the display problem he has.
posted by DetonatedManiac to Technology (3 answers total)
My guess would be that some of the "handicapped access" features are on.

In IE7, go to "Internet Options". Click the "General" tab, and the "Accessibility" button. In the resulting popup, make sure none of the boxes are checked.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:57 PM on July 9, 2007

Best answer: It sounds to me like he might have turned "High Contrast" mode on. I just played with it myself, and it appears to cause what you're describing.

It's in Control Panel -> Accessibility Options -> Display tab -> "Use High Contrast".
posted by neckro23 at 8:58 PM on July 9, 2007

Response by poster: neckro23 nailed it... I never would have thought to look in accessibility options. Thanks
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:05 PM on July 9, 2007

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