filter:gray Internet Explorer Printing bug

IE's handling of CSS filter:gray causes problems when printing multiple pages.

By JC

I know a decent portion of our readers out there are web jockeys… the rest of you can ignore this happily. There seems to be a bug in Internet Explorer with the greyscale CSS Filter. I manage among other things a pretty large intranet and I recently added a “printer-friendly” link for each page on the site… which basically would take the same page you were on, but strip off the header and footer, convert all the colors in the CSS to black and white and grey, and finally, apply body {Filter: Gray;} to convert any remaining content (hardcoded color values, images, etc) to greyscale. Not a perfect solution since the filters don’t really work in anything but IE (maybe opera), but it didn’t need to be. It’s been up that way for a few months. Then today, I got a phone call… an exec was trying to print a long policy manual page, and it was giving him 4 copies of the first screenful instead of the whole file. Banged my head over it for at least half an hour… the problem didn’t happen when the headers were on, it didn’t happen in FireFox or even crusty old netscape 4.7… but it did in IE, on the printable page. And not just for that particular manual page, but every page that could use my printable option, if it was more than one page long.

Not good. Finally figured it out, though. The only difference between the printable page in one browser and another was that IE rendered the filter and the others didn’t… so I tried removing it… and the problem was resolved. So, in case you ever run into this… there’s a fix. And thank you so very, very much to Macromedia for developing Flashpaper which made my fix-finding adventure far more efficient and killed many fewer trees.

So what about you guys… have you run into any oddball IE printing bugs like this that you think would be worth putting out in case someone’s googling them? Chances are this page will end up showing up pretty well in google for that search term… let’s help people out a bit, eh? :-)

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