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Background Color Missing from FireFox, Outlook, Excel


Here is one solution.  It may not be the solution to your problem, but if it is, then by all means please comment and tell me!

So this story starts with my friend’s frantic post on FB:

“…the settings on my work computer…have changed on [their] own… including Outlook and the Internet.. Everything looks like mega old school Windows, webpages are all black and white… I can’t figure out what happened or what changed 🙁 Any advice is appreciated”

She posted on Bleeping Computer a more detailed description:

“I came back into work on Tuesday and noticed some minor changes to my desktop settings (such as my Folders names being highlighted as they never were before – refer to image below). No one had touched my computer while I was away. My computer had also restarted itself which usually happens when Windows performs an update. I’m not aware if any update occurred or what it may have been. After opening up FireFox and my other usual applications – Outlook and Excel, I noticed everything lacking background color and some images. All webpages are black and white with minimal graphics showing and links appearing in blue. Outlook, Word and Excel appear to be only in greyscale.

I have checked through all the display settings for every single application and they are all exactly what they should be. I have ran MBAM and Norton and they did not report anything malicious. I ran HijackThis and it suggested some files that may or may not be malicious and I deleted a few – which have not affected anything that I’m aware of. The files I removed pertained to some AOL junk that was initially installed on this computer by a previous user.

I have read several forums suggesting it’s a certain Trojan virus but have yet to find anything.

All programs on my computer are working fine but are lacking color. Any idea / advice as to what happened would be helpful. I attached images below of what I described. Hope those help. Thanks in advance!

PS. I also want to add that I signed into my computer’s Guest Account and everything is perfect – so it’s definitely something only affecting the main user account.”


I was, of course, intrigued by this issue.  Started throwing out some ideas (please try these for your own issue, who knows, they could work!):

  1. Are you in Safe Mode with graphics turned way down?
  2. Check video settings
  3. Themes?
  4. Active Desktop web settings messed up
  5. Visual Effects
    1. Right click on My computer
    2. Click properties
    3. Go to advanced tab.
    4. Under Perfomance click Settings
    …Under Visual Effect
    Use Adjust for Best Appearance and Apply.
    If it doesn’t work, check or uncheck some shadow boxes and then apply

No dice.

Long story short, it was the High Contrast setting under Accessibility.  Should have looked in that direction from the getgo once she said that her links were all text links, but the whole Black/Whiteness and background color on the icons totally had me focused on Active desktop as the culprit. doh!

For the curious:

High Contrast is designed for people who have vision impairment. High contrast color schemes can make the screen easier to view for some users by heightening screen contrast with alternative color combinations. Some of the schemes also change font sizes for easier reading.

 more info here


  1. perfect! I was having the same problem and this fixed it thanks so much I spent way too much time trying to figure out on my own.


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