March 2001 Issue  Volume 2  Number 2

Q and A

Questions and Answers

Question: How can I get web pages to show up in my choice of colors?

Answer: Many users can read the computer screen most of the time if they get the right colors. Perhaps you've found that one of the high-contrast color schemes in Windows works well for you. But, when you're browsing the web what you find is that many pages are designed with preselected colors of the author's choosing. One is yellow on white, another black on gray, and another orange on blue. If you struggle to make out the text in bright white on black, these wild or low-contrast combinations probably appear as invisible nothingness to you.

Internet Explorer 5 has a couple of features to solve this problem. The first thing to do is to get your Windows colors the way you like them. We'll suppose you've gone to the control panel and chosen "High Contrast Black" as your color scheme. It's very pretty. Now, go into Internet Explorer and go to a web site that does not show up as white on black on your screen. You're doing this so that it will be obvious when you've succeeded in changing Internet Explorer's settings, so pick a site that is conspicuously different from your preferences.

While in IE 5, bring down the Tools menu and pick Internet Options. This dialog should be fairly visible, since it will respect your Windows colors and show up in high contrast. Pick "Colors," which you can do by pressing Alt-O. In this little dialog, check the box labeled "Use Windows Colors," then pick "OK." For now, don't be distracted by all the color choices you find here.

Depending on the page you've selected as your test, you may see it change colors before your eyes. If not, don't worry. Pages that have "forced" colors will not be affected by this setting. To change the color of pages with forced colors, pick the "Accessibility" button in the Internet Options dialog. If you're following along step by step, you're already in the right place. Just press Alt-E. In the little dialog that comes up, the interesting option is "Ignore Colors Specified on Web Pages." Check this and pick "OK."

Now the page on the screen, partially obscured by the Internet Options dialog box, should be bright white on black (or whatever color combination you've selected in the Windows Control panel). Pick the "OK" button in the dialog box and enjoy browsing.

If you have any questions you would like to answered in this column, e-mail us at

Previous Article | Next Article | Table of Contents

AccessWorld, Copyright © 2002 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.