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".
It supports Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and should work fine with other Chromium-based browsers. Once installed successfully, you would notice extension ’s icon on the browser toolbar as shown in the above screenshot.
However, switching your browser’s user agent no longer requires that you install third-party software, such as extensions. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. When you navigate to a webpage, the response from the server will depend on a number of factors.
The OS being used will be checked (Windows, Linux, Mac or Mobile) along with the browser (Firefox, Chrome, Safari and alike) and possibly the system architecture (x86, x64, etc.) 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. Normally, users are oblivious to the exchange of browser user agent data; there are, however, ways in which users and developers can change the user agent to test for different platforms or simply to mask their browser ID.
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.
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.