My friend has a Windows XP computer that doesn't show the colored background on pages, it's always white. On top of that some pictures won't show up, there will just be an empty white frame. Also when you left click on a folder, instead of opening it up, it opens up a new window that turns out to be the search results window. I've never heard of these problems before, and I can't find any information on the internet about it. I assume it's a virus deeply imbedded into the system, but no virus scanner has found it. Thanks for the help!
It could just be a browser settings hijack of sorts. Does he have any weird toolbars installed? Did you try scanning with Malwarebytes or anything similar? Also, do other browsers work properly on his system?
Regarding the IE backgrounds, check Control Panel > Internet Options > General > Colors.
Regarding the pictures not loading, try browsing to a bad image directly, and see what shows up. (If you try to load an HTML document in an image tag, for example, you just get a red X, and no error.) That will be your first clue.
Regarding the folders opening a browser, check the registry for anything strange under HKCR\Folders\shell. On my system, the item 'open' has command
I can't help but add -- these things are treating the symptoms rather than the source. I also agree with a full reformat.
Follow these steps in the order given to disinfect the PC.
1.) Make a boot AV disc then boot from the disc and scan the hard drive, remove any infections it finds, I prefer the Kaspersky disc myself. The New 2010 Kaspersky disc can update the AV dat files if you are connected to the internet at the time of scan and is suggested to update before the scan. http://www.techmixer.com/free-bootable-antivirus-rescue-cds-download-list/
2.) Then: Install free MBAM, run the program and go to the Update tab and update it, then go to the Scanner Tab and do a quick scan, select and remove anything it finds.
3.) When MBAM is done install SAS free version, run a quick scan, remove what it automatically selects. http://www.superantispyware.com/download.html
These last 2 are not AV softwares like Norton, they are on demand scanners that only scan for nasties when you run the program and will not interfere with your installed AV, these can be run once a day or week to ensure you are not infected. Be sure you update them before each daily-weekly scan.