A user agent string is a little-known string of information that has a profound effect on how browsers see the Internet. We recently discussed the benefits of a user-agent switch and how it can improve your browsing experience.
However, switching the user agent in the browser no longer requires the installation of third-party software such as extensions. Over the past few years, all major browsers have started to include such features as part of their developer console or in standard menus.
Although this rarely happens, browser extensions can be intercepted for malicious purposes, which can pose a threat to your security. They can also render the browser unnecessary and ultimately slow it down.
In this article, let’s take a look at how to change the user agent in today’s most popular non-extension browsers.
- First you need to open the Chrome Developer Console. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + I. A panel should open on the right side of the Chrome window.
- Click the icon with three vertical dots (top right corner).
- From this menu, hover over More Tools and select Network Conditions.
How to change the user agent in Google Chrome
- First, you’ll need to open the Chrome developer console. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + I . A panel should open on the right side of the Chrome window.
- Click the three vertical dot icon (upper-right corner).
- In this menu, hover over More Tools and then specify Network Conditions .
- The new panel should open at the bottom of the current one. If you look or scroll down to the bottom of this panel, you should see a User agent label that includes the appropriate set of options.
Here you can choose from a set of specific user agents, or even enter your own custom user agent string It is so simple.
How to change your user agent in Mozilla Firefox or Opera
Without using a browser add-on, changing the Firefox user agent is a complex task that requires you to have a deeper understanding of browser configuration. For Opera users, you can follow the same instructions – the process is identical.
- The first step is to type about: config in the address bar and press Enter. If this is your first time doing this, you should see a disclaimer stating that you are entering a risk zone for advanced users only. Ignore this warning.
- Then, in the Search box at the top of this screen, enter general.useragent.override. You will most likely see a blank screen. If your search finds any preference, please skip down this page so we can change it.
- If there is no customization, right-click an empty area of ??the page, hover over the New button and select the Row option. Here enter the same line we were looking for: general.useragent.override.
- After pressing Enter, the next query will ask for a new string value. The value must be the exact name of the user agent string that you want to use. You can use something completely custom, or find millions of valid user agent strings on WhatIsMyBrowser.com.
- After you enter the user agent string, hit Enter and that’s it. This setting will remain constant every time the browser is restarted. If you ever want to reset this parameter to its default value, just right-click on the parameter name and select Reset.
The string will remain in your settings, but setting it to empty has the same effect as removing it.
How to change the user agent in Microsoft Edge
Edge is a new browser that has been trying to get Microsoft’s attention lately, but if you still prefer Internet Explorer, the process for changing your user agent will be the same.
- First open Edge. and press the F12 key on your keyboard.
- In the right pane that opens, find Emulation at the top. Depending on the size of the resolution, you may not be able to find it at first, but if you click the arrow pointing down in the More Tools tooltip, you will find it.
Edge emulation options are robust enough to allow you to change device, screen orientation / resolution, geolocation, and user agent string.
Like many other browsers, Edge supports custom user agent strings.
How to change a user agent in Safari
Safari allows you to change your user agent from the menu bar, but first you need to enable the developer menu.
- To do this, go to the “Settings ” menu (by clicking Safari or the far right gear icon, depending on your version).
- A pop-up will appear in the window, click the Advanced tab and check the box for the bottom-most option Show design menu in menu bar.
- Close this window and find the Develop menu on the top menu bar, where you see File, Edit, View and other menu items.
- If you don’t see this option bar, you may need to click either the Safari menu option or the gear icon again and click Show Menu Bar.
- Then click on the Develop menu and hover over User Agent and you will see a list of User Agents to switch to.
- Although the list of presets is not very extensive, clicking on “Other ” will give you the option to enter your own custom user agent string
If you’re not afraid to dig into the secret, changing the user agent string through your browser’s settings or developer console is a great way to ditch one additional browser extension. There are millions of valid user agent strings, so keep in mind that using a custom string is usually an option in case the presets don’t offer what you are looking for.
Also, remember to clear or undo any changes made to your user agent string if you want to browse the web as intended. Many websites change the way they deliver content based on your user agent, so if you forget about that, you might end up browsing websites sub-optimal.