Firefox Screen Control Buttons Blacked Out on Windows 7

Posted on 2015-01-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2015-02-10
I'm working on a Windows 7 system where the preferred browser is Firefox.
When Firefox opens, the screen controls (Minimize, Restore Down/Maximize,Close) in the upper right corner are completely blacked out.  There is nothing but a black rectangle where all 3 buttons normally are.
The buttons are "there" and work but can't be seen - so one has to guess on their location to use them.
My job is to fix Firefox so this doesn't happen.

I've read a lot about this and most of the instructions point to doing things with Firefox.
I've done those things and even uninstalled Firefox and reinstalled it with no help.

I've seen such things happen with Internet Explorer that had to do with Windows themes.  
So, I set the theme to a very simple one.  Still no help.

I've accessed this computer with GoToAssist Express (which tweaks the display scheme to support the remote connection) and, in this situation, *the problem goes away*!

So, I'm going to have to go on site to deal with this.  
I'm wondering what suggestions there might be to deal with it further?
I strongly suspect this is a Windows settings issue.
Question by:Fred Marshall
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LVL 70

Assisted Solution

Merete earned 400 total points
ID: 40561335
Hi fmarshall
when you get a chance could you post a screenshot.
If the settings remain when uninstalling FF then the user settings were not fully removed and could be a theme was installed. I have seen a theme change everything to a black border across the top.
Please check this guide using FF in safemode.
Restore the Default Settings in Firefox Without Uninstalling It
It sounds as if a theme was used
Open FF to start page then click on Add ons>appearance and themes use the default
 In the Tools menu select Add-ons
 Go to the Themes section
    In the list of themes click on the default theme
    Click the "Use Theme" button  I have not added any themes.
FF appearanceIs this computer using a small display screen and any zoom was used?
You could also remove user data and settings
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVE earned 400 total points
ID: 40561435
The fact that you don't have the issue through remote connection could mean that this is video driver related. You you check if there is an update for the driver available and if so install it?

Also, can you change display settings like #colors and resolution and see what that does?

Can you try the portable version of ff from portableapps - does it show the same behavior?
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 1200 total points
ID: 40561624
I tend to agree with the previous suggestions, but here's a couple of things you might like to try which will only take a couple of seconds.  In fact, it will take about a twentieth of the time it took to type this.

Click the icon with the 3 thick horizontal bars at the right of the address bar/toolbar and click the "+Customize" button at the bottom left of the pop-down pane.

A new tab should open showing all the elements that can be customized.  As well as the "Themes" button at the bottom left (where you can set to default as previously suggested) click the "Title Bar" button to toggle it off.  Close Firefox, wait a few seconds, then reopen it and this time toggle the "Title Bar" back on again.

The Close / Restore / Minimize buttons for the application window are, as far as I know, supplied by Windows and not Firefox and just sit on top of the Title Bar.  My thoughts are that that by toggling the Title Bar off and on again it might "refresh" something and make the icons show properly.  Sometimes simple little things like this work and sometimes they don't.  It's worth a try.

Also try toggling full screen view on and off using F11 and see if that restores the proper icons.
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LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40562486
The title bar had been toggled off.  Restoring the title bar fixes the problem as long as the title bar is there and doesn't if the title bar is toggled off.
Still working on it.
LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40562749
A screen shot would show FF in full screen (or smaller) mode and there would be a black rectangle where all the screen control buttons would normally be.  And that is all.... There is no definition of the button outlines .. it's just all black.  That is the only thing a screen shot would show that's of any interest.  And, as before, the invisible buttons do work as they should if you can click in the proper spot in that black rectangle.

Turning the title bar ON shows the title bar with the controls on top of it and there is no problem.
Turning the title bar OFF does the obvious and places the controls in whatever is now at the top right corner - and the problem remains.
I removed Firefox using the full scan of RevoUninstaller - so not even remnants in the Registry would remain.
Then reinstalled it.  The problem persists.
F11 has no effect.
The video driver is the latest.
I didn't have the time to tweak colors or resolution that much.
I ran FF in safe mode and "Refreshed" it which appears to be the new "Reset" .. this before uninstalling and reinstalling.
The system is using two screens and FF is being displayed in the main screen.

I think the user is going to be happy with the title bar turned ON so this doesn't warrant more work right now.
But that remains to be seen.
It's one of those curious things.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 40565439
I can't add anything to this if your solution is to simply have the title bar turned ON sounds like your solution,
the two keys
when you remote in your looking at one screen and the title bar displays correctly

The system is using two screens and FF is being displayed in the main screen.<< could hold a key if the 2nd screen being used is not the default screen for Laptop or desktop?
LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40567003
Merete:  I didn't understand: ".<< could hold a key if the 2nd screen being used is not the default screen for Laptop or desktop? "

LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 40568306
Thank you fmarshall
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 40568634
Hi fmarshall, to round off, what I meant is>if this is a laptop which has it's own default screen and a 2ndary monitor is added and that is set as the default display
and the secondary screen display size is different than the laptop screen, items on this screen may not display correctly.
Regards Merete
LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40599929
Follow up:
I just fixed another one.  It had the title bar showing but the windows controls were blacked out just like in this problem.

I had to change the Windows desktop theme to Windows Basic in order to get things right.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 40600394
Unreal, thanks for the follow up and solution.
I did suggest possible cause was the theme but it was a windows theme however?
But why would you need to revert to the old windows basic theme?
Is everything up to date?
Thanks again glad to have helped.
regards Merete
LVL 26

Author Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 40602262
This one was different because the Title Bar was already ON or at least after I'd worked on it for a bit.  So that wasn't the solution as before.
I had recalled similar things happening with Internet Explorer and changing the Windows theme was the solution.  So, I tried it here and it worked.
But "why?" OMG I have no idea!!  :-)

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