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".
For decades, websites have used UA agent strings to fine-tune performance and features or block outdated browsers. However, many website owners these days use UA strings to block users from accessing their sites.
Some do it because they're not willing to deal with browser-specific bugs, some do it because of pettiness, while big tech companies like Google and Microsoft have done it (and continue to do it) to sabotage competitors on the browser market. The browser is not an outdated piece of junk that website owners need to block from their sites.
Vivaldi is a modern browser built on Chromium, which is the same code that runs underneath Chrome. Furthermore, when a website blocks Vivaldi, they also show messages telling users to upgrade their browsers.
Sadly, needing to hide themselves as Chrome in order to gain access to various websites isn't a desperation move specific to Vivaldi alone. While all the above sounds great, over time the Sergeant has been misused by some web developers and occasionally even abused by the bigger tech companies, in positions of power.
Vivaldi is frequently blocked, shown alternate (incorrect) versions of a website or spurious warnings are displayed, based solely on the Sergeant. Sometimes it could arguably be considered a mistake, with the development team of a website naively assuming that only browsers they have personally tested be given access to their site, blocking anything that isn’t.
Although it is a big hack job, it works surprisingly well in much the same way as providing someone else’s name can get you into an exclusive club. We also often encounter websites that block the exact string Vivaldi ”, with no contact or warning to us.
When this happens and error messages are displayed, or intentionally invalid copies of the website are sent our way, users typically assume Vivaldi has an issue, and even sometimes struggle to comprehend that anyone would target us. This can be clearly seen by us in testing, by intentionally misspelling our name by one character in our Sergeant, e.g. “Vivaldi” or “Vivaldi”.
In all such cases, we have tried via various means to get someone in the respective companies to stop breaking these sites for our users. Follow-up requests have been made both by us and our more technical fans multiple times since than, via various contact channels but to no avail.
The problem with our current approach is that with the web being almost infinite, we can’t possibly discover all the websites who have blocks set against us. For a handful of sites where we know the label Vivaldi (and our version number) is responsibly used, we will present our full Sergeant.
There is a downside for us in doing this since Vivaldi will effectively disappear from third party rankings of browser popularity (we will be indistinguishable from Chrome) but that is a price we will happily pay to provide the best website compatibility for our users. A fan of Linux (Slackware), uni cycling, simple solutions and a “slow” lifestyle.
Because some internet websites unfairly block browsers from accessing their services, starting with Vivaldi 2.10, released today, the Vivaldi browser plans to disguise itself as Chrome to allow users to access websites that unfairly block them. For decades, websites have used UA agent strings to fine-tune performance and features or block outdated browsers.
However, many website owners these days use UA strings to block users from accessing their sites. Some do it because they’re not willing to deal with browser-specific bugs, some do it because of pettiness, while big tech companies like Google and Microsoft have done it (and continue to do it) to sabotage competitors on the browser market.
The browser is not an outdated piece of junk that website owners need to block from their sites. Vivaldi is a modern browser built on Chromium, which is the same code that runs underneath Chrome.
Sadly, needing to hide themselves as Chrome in order to gain access to various websites isn’t a desperation move specific to Vivaldi alone. 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.
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. You can find extensive lists of user agents on various websites, such as this one.
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.
Over the past few years, mainstream browsers have all started including such functionality as a part of their developer console or within standard menus. Although uncommon, there is a chance for browser extensions to become hijacked for malicious purposes, which could be a risk to your security.
If you look or scroll down towards the bottom of this panel, you should see a User agent label, which includes a respective set of options. Here, you can select from a set of defined user agents or even enter your own custom user agent string.
If it’s your first time doing so, you should see a disclaimer stating that you’re entering risky territory that’s for advanced users only. If the preference isn’t there, right-click on a blank area of the page, hover New, and select the String option.
Craig is a long-time writer, coder, and marketer with years of experience in the technology and gaming spaces. Since 2008, he's worked remotely with some of the most notable publications in these industries, specializing in Windows, PC hardware and software, automation, and the like.
When a website wants to identify your browser and what sort of computer or device you’re browsing from, the first place they’ll turn to is the Sergeant string. In a surprising move, Google’s Chromium team has submitted a new proposal that includes deprecating the Sergeant string starting in Chrome 81.
While web browsers have slowly become more privacy considerate over the years, the Sergeant string, a genuine relic of the internet as we once knew it, has become a primary target for fingerprinting a user. Your browser of choice, what version you’re on, what operating system you’re using, and in some cases what device you’re using are all revealed and readily shared with any website that asks for it.
The original intention behind giving out this information is for servers to make sure the page you receive is one that’s optimized for your specific browser’s needs. Now that there are fewer compatibility reasons for a site to care whether you’re browsing from Chrome or Firefox, the Sergeant string has taken on unfortunate new purposes.
For the sake of keeping older, unmaintained websites working as expected, the Sergeant string can’t just be removed from Chrome altogether. Today, as spotted by Owen Williams, Google has publicly unveiled to once and for all stop the misuse of the Sergeant string both in Chrome and the web as a whole.
According to the proposal, the first step is to deprecate the “navigator.sergeant” method used to access the Sergeant string, suggested starting in March with Chrome 81. At the same time, Chrome will also “unify” the information shared about your device’s operating system, for example meaning that two computers on slightly different Windows 10 updates should have the same Sergeant.
The proposal notes that back in 2017, Apple went down a similar road with Safari, attempting to altogether freeze the Sergeant string. The second half of Google’s proposal is to introduce a healthy compromise to give web developers the information they may need, while still respecting a person’s privacy.
If the proposals to deprecate the Sergeant string and introduce UA-CH are accepted as-is, we should see the first fruits of them soon, as Chrome 81 is already in Canary and is scheduled to be released in March of this year. Google Docs is arguably the best online word processor since it is incredibly easy to use.
That said, you can also use Google Docs offline with Chromium-based web browsers (Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, etc.) Let's set up Chrome and figure out how to work on Google Docs offline.
Although you may not want to have another web browser on your Mac, the convenience and peace of mind are worth the hassle. If you don't do that, Chrome will automatically log you in at the browser level once you sign in to Google Docs later.
If you prefer your current browser for your main browsing activities, you can use Chrome just for working on Google Docs. Head into the Chrome Web Store, search for 'Google Docs Offline' (or click the Download button above).
Finally, click OK to enable offline functionality in Google Docs. The web app will then start to cache the most recent documents offline.
That means you can load the Google Docs web app in Chrome and start working on your documents. To do that, click the three-dot icon next to a document within the Google Docs dashboard and turn on the switch next to Offline Access.
Chromium-based browsers support Chrome Web Store extensions, so you should have no trouble installing it. Once you've done that, you can enable Offline functionality by diving into the Google Docs Settings pane.
Chrome is absolutely worth installing on Mac if you love using Google Docs and want to make the best out of it. Click on the next link to refer to the guide for fixing Google Docs offline problems.
Last updated on 12 Nov, 2020 The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. In the left menu, click on Permanent Spoof List.
Then enter the domain of the particular website, choose the desired user agent you want to assign from the dropdown menu, and click on Add. Extension icon in the Chrome menu shows the active profile.
This will open a dialog window as seen below: Here, click on Add Site, enter site domain, choose Custom and enter the custom user agent you want, and hit OK to save changes. Unlike the extension for Chrome, in Control you need to manually enter user agents.