Forms and BHOs (Browser Helper Objects)

If your browser displays yellow instead
If your browser displays yellow* for any fields, then read this page for the solution.

If text entered into a form field is unreadable (yellow background), then it is due to a BHO you have installed, most likely the Google Toolbar. One of the options of the Google toolbar BHO, is to use it to fill in website form fields automatically, however, few ever use it for that purpose. If you don't want to see the yellow or don't want to use this feature, then you should turn it off or uninstall the toolbar. The toolbar may have been installed by any one of several applications as an "extra" add-on. This can happen when you choose the simple version of an install; always choose the "Detailed" version of an install, and uncheck any options that are being installed behind your back that you do not want. It is surprising how many people install this toolbar then complain about the results; it is very likely they didn't know that the toolbar had been installed. Many do install the Google toolbar intentionally without fully understanding what all it may affect. It isn't anything we can change on our end that will override what your browser does on your end; you can accept the fact that the toolbar will affect what you see or you can remove the toolbar. We have no control over your browser or what you install as Browser Helper Objects (BHOs).

The webpage has been validated, and is coded correctly, and as it was intended to display. The field does display correctly, unless you have a BHO installed that alters colors of common fields (such as e-mail and address).

In most cases, the field is yellow although it may appear to be white, especially if you are using a flat-panel screen, such as is the case on laptops, or a thin display screen for a desk computer (commonly referred to as flat-screen monitors). Some browsers override the yellow color with a different color. For example, the SmartBro browser displays a lilac color instead.

We can't change what BHOs you have installed or their settings. You will need to change the settings yourself or un-install the BHO that is causing the fields to display incorrectly. We can tell you why the form fields are displayed to you different from other form fields, and how you can change the settings that cause the form fields to be displayed wrong in your browser in the most common case (see images below).

Do you use the Google Toolbar?

In all likelihood it will never occur to them that the issue is their browser, not your site. The most common BHO to alter form field backgrounds is the Google Toolbar. Internet Explorer allows BHOs such as the Google Toolbar to be installed. One of the features of the Google Toolbar is the ability to fill in form field data with a single right-click. The yellow background of a form is most likely caused by having the Google Toolbar installed and the AutoFill option enabled. The 'AutoFill" feature is turned on by default. The BHO can't do this for all form fields; only ones it recognizes the name for, such as e-mail, address, or fields with a common label. They are recognized by the keywords in the description of the field, such as e-mail. When a common named field is recognized, then the field color is displayed "highlighted," which is usually yellow* or white depending on your BHO settings.

If you need proof, try a different computer that does not have the Google Toolbar installed, or try a different browser such as Firefox or Opera. You can also un-install the toolbar, or change the settings as described below.

You may have the Google Toolbar on your computer for any number of reasons. The Google Toolbar may come pre-installed with a new computer, or it may be bundled with other software and installed as part of that software, or you may have downloaded it from Google. Regardless of how you got it, you can un-install it, or change the settings to not alter the color of form fields. If you choose to use the Google toolbar, you can't complain to others about the changes it causes. Accept it, or change it; it is your choice.

There are many webpages that discuss the problem with the Google Toolbar. Do a search on "yellow form fields" and toolbar. You will get a long list of results.* One states: "In all likelihood it will never occur to them that the issue is their browser, not your site." This is exactly what we have encountered. It is a sad state, one we have little control over, other than to educate you as best we can.

What it should look like*
Search on this.

Google's Perspective

The problem is that Google didn't consider what color the field displays normally, nor the text color used when the user types in the field. If the text to be entered is yellow and so is the field, then the entered text will be the same color as the background. Google promises to "look into the issue" Google also tells you that if it bothers you, then turn the feature off.

What it should look like
What it should look like.

If your browser displays yellow instead
If your browser displays yellow instead.

If your browser displays white instead
If your browser displays white instead.

Personal data must already be saved in the BHO settings to use the Google Toolbar AutoFill so if you are not doing this, then you should turn AutoFill off.

Google Toolbar Settings

To change the Google Toolbar settings that affect the color, open the Google Toolbar Options:

Open the Options
Open the Options.

If you are using AutoFill, the check box will be checked:

Select the AutoFill Settings
Select the AutoFill Settings.

If unchecked, the form field should look normal:

What it should look like
What it should look like.

If checked, the field will be either white or yellow depending on the AutoFill settings. Click on the Autofill Settings button:

Select the AutoFill Settings
Select the AutoFill Settings.

This dialog is where you would have entered your personal information. If you haven't filled in any information, then you are not even using the AutoFill feature, but it alters the color of form fields because of the checkboxes. Also, if you are concerned about privacy, you shouldn't use the feature at all.

Regardless, look at the Highlight option (near the bottom):

Look at the Highlight option
Look at the Highlight option.

If the checkbox is checked, some form fields will be yellow. If unchecked, the same form fields will be white.

Of course, you can turn AutoFill off entirely to have the form field display as it was designed.