Most websites provide different user interfaces for tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Did you know that you could access the mobile versions of your favorite websites using your desktop browser? Whether you’re curious to see the mobile versions or you are testing mobile websites, it is really easy to access them using your desktop browser. So, Let’s see how to open mobile versions of websites using your desktop browser.
How does it work?
What we basically have to do is change the browser’s user agent. User agent is something that tells a website about the browser, OS and device you are using to access that website. By changing the user agent, we are tricking the website into believing that we are using a different browser, OS and device than what we’re actually using. This makes the website serve us the version that suits our fake identity.
Now, wondering how to change the browser’s user agent? You can do this manually or install a browser extension to make it easier. We’ll go by the browser extension route here.
User Agent Switcher Extensions for desktop browsers
Considering the ease of use, it is better to install a browser extension because it’s less technical and helps you change the user agent in one click.
If you are using Google chrome, follow the link to get User-Agent Switcher for Chrome or if you are a Mozilla firefox user, get this User Agent Switcher for Firefox.
Install and activate the user agent switcher extension and restart your browser.
How to Set a Mobile User Agent
To change the user agent of your browser, click on the User Agent Switcher extension’s icon which you can find on the browser’s toolbar. From the list that it displays, select a mobile user agent.
That’s it, you can now visit any website to access its mobile version from your desktop browser.
From now on, every website you visit will serve you its mobile version as long as you have your user agent set to mobile. When you want to go back to visiting desktop versions of sites, just click on the User Agent switcher icon again and select ‘default user agent’. The method is almost similar in most user agent switching extensions and it’s really simple as you know by now.
(If you are using firefox, you may have to manually drag and drop the user agent switcher’s icon to the toolbar. To do this, click on the menu icon on toolbar and select customize. Simply drag and drop the user agent switcher’s icon where you like it to be.)
How to get more User Agents
Not all user agent switcher extensions come with a big list of user agents. But worry not, you can always download more user agents right from the options provided by the user agent switcher extension. You can also enter a user agent string manually in your user agent switcher. A quick google search will get you the user agent strings for any device you want.
If you are curious to see what a user agent string looks like, here is the user agent for a Nexus 7 with android 4.3 and chrome browser:
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 4.3; Nexus 7 Build/JWR66Y) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/29.0.1547.72 Safari/537.36
Changing the user agent can come very handy. Especially if you are a web designer who wants to test mobile versions of websites without leaving your desktop screen. It can also be helpful if you want to browse faster on a dead-slow internet connection. Mobile versions of websites tend to load faster than their desktop versions. Anyway, it’s good to have a user agent switcher installed on your desktop browser.