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Browser "User Agent"

From another thread: "I have my mozilla firebird user-agent set to IE" - i like i

Two questions:
1) How?
2) Why?

Friday, August 22, 2003

(1) UserAgent Extension for Firebird (
(2) some sites are still designed for MSIE only

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 22, 2003

One of the reasons to change a Browser's user agent string is because some sites will not allow access to non-IE browsers even when a Gecko or KHTML based browser will read the content just fine.  This is true of several large banks (although it is less of a problem now than a year ago).

You can Google for spoof user agent mozilla
That should get you a how-to.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Broadly speaking, Mozilla renders CSS and Javascript correctly, whereas Netscape requires some hacking, which screws up Mozilla.

At least, that's been my experience as a designer.

The User Agent thing's a good idea.  I'll have to try that at home.  At least until jokers like me make more Mozilla-friendly pages.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Okay then, but what happens when you spoof the user agent to pretend it's IE, and you come across a page that truly requires IE (e.g., uses an ActiveX control). Does your computer burst into flames?

Please, no flamewars on the relative merits of ActiveX controls ... I'm just wondering if you get a useful error message or if Mozilla just gets confused.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Nothing happens. Mozilla sees the object tag and ignores it.

Brad Wilson (
Friday, August 22, 2003

Actually, the OBJECT tag is not being ignored, but rather Mozilla has no handler for its source and/or content, which is equally fine. If people were to incorporate alternative content just inside the OBJECT (as its meant to be), Mozilla would happily display it.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 22, 2003

Registry path -

HKEY_CURRENT_USER / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / Internet Settings / User Agent

Amour Tan
Friday, August 22, 2003

If you do consistently change the User Agent though you may not be getting the best out of the browser since  a page may sniff on the basis of the User Agent alone and assume your browser can't do what it actually can.

Its best to leave it be unless it fails on a particular site.

Actually in my case, if it fails on Firebird or Mozilla I just run IE on the same URL I can't be bothered trying to make the entire universe conform to me, I learned this early on when crossing on red.

Simon Lucy
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Yeah, why bother with the user-agent setting when you can just run IE on that particular URL?

Saturday, August 23, 2003

This is a common problem for the Opera browser since so many sites support only IE/Netscape. Its a frequent topic on the Opera forums when some new user tries to access financial/colleges/macromedia/microsoft web sites.

Unfortunately, in order to build perceived browser share when you use the menu to identify Opera as IE6.0 for example, they add a Opera unique string at the end.

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0) Opera 7.20 [en]

I haven't found it an issue with Mozilla/Firebird, but it all depends upon what web sites you goto.

Eric Moore
Saturday, August 23, 2003

It's a shame that a hack like browser-spoofing has to be used due to a poorly written browser sniffing script. I understand the need for such scripts in *certain* situations i.e. dependency on ActiveX etc, but it still an inelegant hack. Surely, they could allow the user to "continue at their own risk" (i.e. warn them but allow unsupported access) rather than barring them at the gates...

Also, I wonder just how much difference it makes to browser stats if everyone starts spoofing the user-agent and thus helping IE retain apparent dominance even when it is not used...

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Sites like banks require IE as a user agent because it's the only browser that they bothered to test on & they have pretty strict confidentiality & security requirements.
Monday, August 25, 2003

it was because of an online bank; just haven't bothered to make a rule of that site or to change it back.  And as that is quicker than writing this message, that just shows how lazy I am...

i like i
Monday, August 25, 2003

Just run Junkbuster as a proxy, and you can easily set it to whatever you like. From home it looks like I am using using telnet to read website. I hope it confuses a few admins/web designers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

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