I'm working with a customer who has multiple computers in their domain where Internet Explorer 11 under Windows 7 is unusable. The affected users' browsers seem to be missing many images and aren't respecting CSS.

Troubleshooting steps so far:

  • Run basic Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes scans.
  • Run both WSUS and Microsoft-Provided updates.
  • Removed Barracuda Web Filter from the environment.
  • Checked DNS and routing settings.
  • Disabled content filtering in Meraki firewall.
  • Tested with another profile/account on the same computer. IE11 works as a different user.
  • Removed IE registry keys under HKCU.
  • Toggled Compatibility Mode settings.

Despite these, the results look like the screenshots below.
Any idea what this could be?

Under IE11: enter image description here

Under Chrome: enter image description here


Ctrl+Alt+PrntScrn will turn on high contrast mode in Windows. This was happening to one of my users a couple of weeks ago.

Note that only left Ctrl and left Alt will achieve this. I'm not in front of a Windows machine right now, but if the same key combination doesn't work for turning it off, I believe you can turn it off through Control Panel -> Appearance & Personalization -> Personalization.

This should go as a comment under ewwhite's answer above, but I'm afraid I don't have the rep to comment.


Looking at the themes, something seemed off.

The selected theme was listed as "Unsaved Theme"... and seemed to feature one of the "High Contrast" settings for the application windows. Switching to the Windows Aero theme seems to have restored the appearance. I'm suspecting that Google Chrome doesn't honor these settings, hence the proper page rendering regardless of theme.

There are multiple users with this problem, so I'll see if there's a common denominator or GPO option to correct this across the board.

But is there something in the UI/UX that leads people into accidentally entering high contrast mode?

  • 1
    Maybe one of the accessibility shortcuts? Those are easy to trigger unintentionally. – leoluk Jan 2 '16 at 16:28
  • I think that's possible. i'll do a little more investigation on how the users ended up here. – ewwhite Jan 2 '16 at 16:42

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