IE Annoyances..

No, I’m not going to complain about transparent PNG or CSS support.  Frankly, since I’m not a webmaster, I don’t care about them (sorry).

This one’s pretty specific, and I’m pretty sure that it’s an IE bug.

One thing that I’ve noticed while reading other peoples blogs is that IE seems to get confused about which text size at which I want my pages rendered.  For some reason, Eric Lippert’s blog seems to be a constant offender there, although I don’t know why.

For some reason, after reading his ‘blog, I seem to find my text size changed from “Medium” to “Smaller”.  Which is usually too small for me.  And of course, when I close the browser, it happily sets the new font size as the default for my machine.

I know the setting is kept in the registry somewhere and I could put an ACL on the registry key to prevent it from happening, but I’d love to understand why this is happening.  What’s allowing a web page to change the text size I want to use to view the entire web?

Edit: Problem discovered: It was an interaction between a buggy internal tool and IE.  Which explains why I didn't find it by googling πŸ™‚


Comments (25)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Happens to me too, Larry… although the fonts on my machine outside of my browser are effected.

    It thought I was going crazy. πŸ™‚

    No noticeable pattern from what I can see… although it usually happens when I leave browser windows open for days at a time.


    David Bisset ( blog)

  2. Anonymous says:

    This may or may not be it, but if you use Outlook and your IE font size keeps changing, it’s most likely because of the International Font settings in Outlook. There was KB article about this somewhere.

  3. Anonymous says:


    there’s more stuff like this. from time to time, ie will simply forget stored password for pages that need authentification. it _never_ logs me into passport sites automatically. no matter how often i check ‘remeber password’, it simply fails to do so.

    also, ‘view source’ simply stops working at all from time to time…

    this program needs some real big work beeing done (and the security stuff from sp2 doesn’t help with the annoyances… i have the sp2 bits running, and still can’t view pages sources, am not beeing logged into passport – and i’m pretty sure it’l have forgotten some of my passwords really soon now.)


    thomas woelfer

  4. Anonymous says:

    When View Source stops working, Tools | Internet Options | Delete Files.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The autocomplete stops working on some sites too if the cache is full, the above comment fixes that as well.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I find that in order to stop IE from doing all manner of foolishness, a regular cleaning out of the history, temporary files, and autocomplete entries is essential. How often you need to do this obviously depends on how much you use it, but I tend to do it once a week as part of my maintenance schedule. Whether this really helps is hard to say, although there are some definite problems this avoids. (For example, if your Temporary Internet Files start getting too big, view source stops working properly and IE will only allow you to save images as BMP files. Why? Who knows!)

    The Passport issue is possibly related to this:;EN-US;q264672

    All in all, IE is in serious need of an overhaul. Larry may think that things like decent PNG and CSS support aren’t important, but the whole beauty of the web is that there are all these standards which are well documented. An MS employee (albeit one who has nothing to do with IE development) saying "Ah, don’t worry about supporting them properly, they’re only standards!" isn’t particularly encouraging… πŸ™‚

  7. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t say they weren’t important. I said I don’t care about them.

    It’s a big difference. In my personal life, the fact that IE doesn’t support PNG transparency (which is an OPTIONAL feature of the PNG spec btw) or full CSS does not effect e in the least. In my profession life, it doesn’t either.

    Professionally, I’d care more if windows audio didn’t support AC3 properly (or MP3). Or if there was an issue rendering PCM content to a particular sound card.

    IE’s lack of standards compliance isn’t even on MY radar. I’m sure it’s on other Microsoft people’s radar (see the Channel9 ( threads about IE for more info), but not mine.

    And since I don’t care about this issue and because I as an individual can’t do anything about this issue, given the subject of the post I figured I’d try to cut off the innevitable "IE’s not standards compliant" threads.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey Larry, you know what. The fact that I didn’t have broadband internet access didn’t affect me in the least either, until I got it and realized how useful it was.

    Maybe that’s the reason that the full CSS support and PNG transparency doesn’t bother you either. You’ve never had to develop for the browser or try to take advantage of transparency? To discount those of us that do just because YOU don’t seems pretty short-sighted to me. To me Exchange 2000 didn’t really offer me anything better than Exchange 5.5 since all I do is send/receive email at home and at work. Maybe MS should quit working on Exchange and concentrate on just a standard POP server? πŸ˜‰

    That’s the nice thing about browsers, despite Microsofts best efforts you still seem to have options if IE misbehaves in any way. Wouldn’t it be terrible if you didn’t? What if everyone HAD to drive an Edsel? {shudder}

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m not discounting you. I believe these are REAL issues. I truly believe that things would be better with fixes for these problems.

    However this is NOT what this thread is about.

    It’s about a single issue: IE randomly changing font sizes without user interaction.

    I explicitly don’t want an IE standards flame-fest. If you want that, there are other places to vent that are read by the people who can actually effect change. I’m not one of those people.

    If you want a change in audio, I can help. If you want a change in Exchange, I MIGHT be able to help (even though I’ve not worked there for 4 years).

    Oh, and even if you’re using POP3, Exchange 2000 is ORDERS of magnitude better than Exchange 5.5 was. Exchange 2000 brought full fidelity support to POP3, whereas Exchange 5.5 parsed the email, decomposed it into rich text, and then reassembled the original MIME content when the client asked for it. Which was slow and didn’t mantain full fidelity with the original email message.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, wrong forum. πŸ™‚ However on to adress the topic specific complaint, FireFox/Mozilla/Safari don’t change your default font settings for you. But often when the font size is set to small (or something in IE specific CSS) it makes it REALLY small in FireFox. but it doesn’t stick (thank god).

    So Exchange 2000 caught up to sendmail? πŸ˜‰ Again, neither made any difference to me. Me hit "send/receive" button, me get email, me read email, realize that email assigns me more work, me regret hitting "send/receive’ button. Same diff.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Exchange 2000 caught up and surpassed it IMHO. It’s WAY easier to manage a 50 server Exchange farm than it is to manage a 50 server sendmail farm.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Re: the regular things-stop-working – I’ve found that IE seems to corrupt its index.dat when Temporary Internet Files fills up. You can sometimes see this in the Explorer view of Temporary Internet Files: you get corrupted filenames appearing.

    The effects are easy to explain: you can’t View Source, because IE can no longer find the file to open. Images don’t show, because it can’t find the cached image file after downloading it. Style sheets aren’t applied because they’ve been lost. Saving images doesn’t work because the original file, rather than the rendered copy has been lost. In normal use I assume that IE just makes a copy of the file out of the cache, but when the file’s missing it tries to do the best it can by rendering the in-memory bitmap back to a BMP. I presume there’s no compression code in IE, just decompression.

    I have a bad habit of humanising software. πŸ˜‰ Above, read ‘the software’s designers decided that the software should’ rather than ‘it does’.

    All because IE (or, rather, WinInet) has lost the association between the URL and the local file.

    I’ve mentioned this bug on my blog back in December (Jim Blizzard sent me an email saying he’d reported it for me), probably in comments on MSDN blogs, on CodeProject’s Lounge when the subject comes up every couple of months, and, for completeness, on Channel 9’s Internet Explorer feedback Wiki pages.

    I’ve not seen the problem yet with XP SP2, maybe it’s been fixed?

  13. Anonymous says:

    That wasn’t it Mike πŸ™ Just blew away my cache, hit the link and poof! Smaller fonts.


  14. Anonymous says:

    i’m using windows 2003 server (standard|enterprise), and the font-size did NOT change when i checked the blog you mentinoed.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It doesn’t always happen – for instance it was fine until I checked on the link in my browser. Basically what seems to be happening is that the cached version of the text size parameter is getting corrupted somehow and that then affects new browser windows.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey All,

    I don’t know if I’m even in the correct area or not, but since I can’t seem to be able to contact Microsoft without PAYING, I thought I’d ask someone in one of these blogs if they know what my download problem is. Whenever I try to download a .pdf file, I get this irritating error message informing me that it is not a valid Win32 app. I have just started having this problem recently – within the last 2 or 3 months. I haven’t changed anything in my settings. Perhaps did one of the gazillion MS critical updates messed with some download setting?

    Appreciate any help. Thanks

  17. Anonymous says:

    Re: the regular things-stop-working – I’ve found that IE seems to corrupt its index.dat when Temporary Internet Files fills up. You can sometimes see this in the Explorer view of Temporary Internet Files: you get corrupted filenames appearing.

    And for the really jerky response: "Which index.dat? They’re all over the damn place!"

    This is a CSS problem btw that the original post is about….. hence your standards complance thing that you didn’t care about, is what you care about πŸ™‚

  18. Anonymous says:

    BTW, here’s a Microsoft Blog annoyance:

    (btw, before I start, what the heck is the Remember Me? box for?)

    There needs to be a way to login to all of the blogs at once (passport probably) so that I can send a comment, and then have it email me when there is a response or addition to the article.

    Right now I reply to dozens of MS blogs, and rarely ever go back and check for a response, cause I’m too damned lazy to bookmark them to check and I don’t have the time, and it’s gone off of my RSS feed so I forget. Some of the responses are important to me too!

    Someone please add this to the Microsoft Blogs stuff πŸ™‚

  19. Anonymous says:

    Just a thought, but blocking the change is not a bad way to find out information about it.

    I believe the relevant key is HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerInternationalScripts3 which has a IEFontSize binary value. You could trap on modify and then trace back to figure out why it got changed.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is a well known issue caused by Product Studio, and triggered by locking your machine (among other things). They should fix it eventually… Yes, it is annoying.

    BTW: The IE team is hiring. πŸ˜‰

  21. Anonymous says:

    In your personal opinion Larry, should this have all been fixed in SP2 (i mean non sticky small fonts and etc not standards)? Do you think if you were overseeing the IE team you would say "we need to spend a minute amount of time on these things before SP2 ships".

  22. Anonymous says:

    See the comment from Tony above. My problem is actually an interaction between IE and a poorly written internal tool at Microsoft.

    The TOOL is at fault, not IE.

    And SP2’s about SECURITY. If it’s not a security bug (or a security vulnerability) in general it’s not going to get fixed.

    So no, I don’t believe it should be fixed for SP2. Afterwards? Maybe – that’s up to the IE team.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I have been wondering about this ever since I started at Microsoft, since I only ever see it at work. I suspected it was an artifact of all the Sharepoint sites, but it’s good to know that it’s PS that’s at fault. Thanks for the tip Tony!

    Larry, I’ve gotten in the habit of adjusting the font size up by one notch periodically when I notice this. Easiest way is to hold down Ctrl and nudge the mouse scroll wheel down one notch.

  24. Anonymous says:


    Send your request to Scott W. at

    He’s the main author for the software the MS blogs use. It’s a good one and they have a similar system over at Channel 9.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I like the fact that I can change the font size in firefox using the scroll wheel and it only effects the current tab, not every tab, not every browser, not any future browsers. I can’t use the feature in IE because it annoys me too much the next time I open the browser (which is extrememly rare these days).

    The only time I see the problem you describe is whenever I use Yahoo! Messenger, the font on my VS.Net Start Page is messed up. Slightly annoying, but not too bad.

    [BTW, things I don’t know about/care about that effect you professionally have deep effects on me personally because I listen to music via Windows 24/7. If you use IE, every feature effects you whether you notice it or not.]

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