A user agent is a computer program representing a person, for example, a browser in a Web context.
Besides a browser, a user agent could be a bot scraping webpages, a download manager, or another app accessing the Web. Along with each request they make to the server, browsers include a self-identifying User-Agent HTTP header called a user agent (UA) string. This string often identifies the browser, its version number, and its host operating system.
Spam bots, download managers, and some browsers often send a fake UA string to announce themselves as a different client. This is known as user agent spoofing.
A typical user agent string looks like this: "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:35.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/35.0".
The user agent string can provide web servers some details about the user's operating system, and the browser version. For example, the download page on Microsoft's website checks the user agent of the browser.
If it reports the Windows operating system, the Media Creation Tool will be offered for download. However, if the user agent reports Linux, Android or iOS, you will see direct download links to ISO files.
Choose the desired web browser to change the user agent string. The list includes various versions of Internet Explorer, along with Opera, Safari, Firefox, and Chrome.
Using the built-in Developer Tools option, you can change the user agent in Microsoft Edge any time. Also, you can switch to a different user agent and change geolocation to emulate another browser in order to bypass certain website restrictions that concern a specific app.
So, in this post, we’ll walk you through the process of changing Sergeant and Geolocation in Edge Developer Tools. For a regular Internet user, Microsoft Edge seems like an awesome browser.
Since, Microsoft Edge has completed the migration from Edge HTML to Chromium, changing the user agent is a different process now! Here, scroll down to make the lower part of the screen visible.
Click on ‘ More tools ‘ under ‘ Console ‘ tab and select ‘ Sensors ‘ option. Now, select the desired region and hit the ‘ Add location ‘ tab.
You can change the user agent of Microsoft Edge via Developer Tools menu. As mentioned earlier above, changing user agent in Microsoft Edge is extremely easy.
This feature is useful for SEO professionals, for example, to identify issues with cloaking which is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or auditing websites which has different look depending on the device. User agent is an HTTP request header string identifying browser, application, operating system which connects to the server.
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry! In the early days of the internet, websites didn’t care what browser you used, because most pages were static.
But today’s dynamic websites often adapt to the operating system, browser, or screen size your device uses. An user agent is a string (line of text) that your browser sends to websites when you access them.
User agents are important because sites can use them to modify the content they send to your browser. For example, if you visit most modern sites in Internet Explorer 6, you’ll see a message that you need to upgrade your browser for proper compatibility.
User agents also come into play when browsing on a mobile device, so websites know to show you the mobile-friendly version of a page. Open Chrome’s Developer Tools by right-clicking anywhere and choosing To inspect, hitting Ctrl + Shift + I, or by pressing F12.
On the Network conditions tab, uncheck Select automatically and you can then choose a new user agent from the list. Note that this setting will revert to normal when you close the developer panel, and only applies to your current tab.
You can also change Browser profile from Desktop to Windows Phone to view the mobile version of webpages. You’ll need to enable the hidden Develop menu in Safari before you can change your user agent.
While there’s no quick toggle to change your user agent in the mobile versions of Chrome and Safari, you can easily make websites think your phone is a computer. Check the Desktop site box and it will reload to show you the full version.
On Safari for iOS, tap the AA button to the left of the address bar and choose Request Desktop Website. You’ll find the same option in Chrome for iPhone by tapping the Share button at the top-right, followed by scrolling down and choosing Request Desktop Site.
While swapping your agent can’t accommodate every possible real-world situation, it lets you get some basic testing done in a fraction of the time. Further, if backward compatibility is important for your site, swapping your user agent to IE 8 is a lot easier than installing a copy of ancient browsers manually.
Browsing mobile versions of pages means you only get the basics and aren’t wasting data on multimedia or other large items. While not as common as it once was, sometimes you’ll come across websites that tell you Firefox doesn’t work with the page, or you must use Internet Explorer, or other similar warnings.
Some people explain that they use these services to get around sites that block entire operating systems. While there’s really no good reason for a site to block an entire OS, you could run into a page that complains about you using Linux.
If you’ve used Windows all your life, you can jump around some sites and see if they look any different when using Mac or Linux. Some browser -switching agents even allow you to pose as Google bot, the robot Google uses to crawl and index the web.
The new Microsoft Edge running on Chromium isn’t yet here officially, but a leaked build allows us to try out the browser in anticipation of its highly-anticipated release. Using the browser on a daily basis isn’t obviously recommended as experimental builds like this can’t by any means become your main driver.
For many users, switching to a different user agent and thus emulating another browser is a method to bypass certain website restrictions that concern a specific app. For example, if a website doesn’t support Chromium, you can very well change the user agent to mimic a different browser like Mozilla Firefox.
The best example is Skype for Web, which doesn’t work in Firefox anymore, so Mozilla users need to switch to another user agent to connect to the service. For those unfamiliar with this screen, it’s specifically supposed to provide developers with advanced tools that let them analyze code and website performance.
Changing the user agent is actually considered a developer option that helps webmasters check their pages against potential compatibility issues with different browsers. By default, Microsoft Edge is configured to Select automatically the user agent, so you need to uncheck this option to be able to choose a custom setting.
It allows sites to determine specific details, which in turn alters how the page is served to the user. For instance, menus will be easier to touch and read, and text will be more stripped down and readable.
Browsers have a fingerprint that can help uniquely identify users with the user agent being one of these factors. When using Edge, open a page and press the F12 key to access the developer settings.
Select the “Emulation” tab and look for the Sergeant string list.” Here you can choose to make Edge mimic the browser of your choice. Just as with Edge, Chrome has an useragentchange within the developer settings, although it is a lot more complicated to access.
From there click “Tools” and then “Developer Options.” You can also easily access this via the key combination of Ctrl + Shift + I. As you can see below, there will be an option to change the user agent by unpicking the “Select automatically” box.
Open a browser window and type about:config within the address bar. A warning will appear, but it is quite safe to proceed, providing you don’t change settings or flags without due care and attention.
If you don’t fancy the idea of messing with a browser ’s settings, then there are some add-ons and extensions that will do the job for you. It is currently, at the time of writing this article, a featured extension from Firefox, so that may put to rest some concerns that users may have.
Matthew Muller Matt has worked in the tech industry for many years and is now a freelance writer. If you ever wanted to make your web traffic seem like it was coming from a different browser –say, to trick a site that claims it’s incompatible with yours–you can.
If you don’t see the console at the bottom, click the menu button in the top right corner of the Developer Tools pane–that’s the button just to the left of the “x”–and select “Show Console”. On the Network conditions tab, uncheck “Select automatically” next to User agent.
It only works while you have the Developer Tools pane open, and it only applies to the current tab. To create the preference, right-click on the about:config page, point to New, and select String.
You can find extensive lists of user agents on various websites, such as this one. This setting applies to every open tab and persists until you change it, even if you close and reopen Firefox.
To revert Firefox to the default user agent, right-click the “general.user agent.override” preference and select Reset. Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer have user agent switchers in their developer tools, and they’re nearly identical.
To open them, click the settings menu and select “F12 Developer Tools” or just press F12 on your keyboard. The developer tools will open in a separate pane at the bottom of the window.
It only applies to the current tab, and only while the F12 Developer Tools pane is open. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC.
Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek. We are currently using AWS CloudFront to front our backend .NET web application (the origin).
So how can we let our origin serve up customized content for bots yet stay (somewhat) performant? Lambda Edge lets you run Lambda functions to customize content that CloudFront delivers by executing the functions at edge locations.