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Web Browser Spoofing

TMO Quick Tip - Web Browser Spoofing

by , 7:30 AM EST, February 7th, 2007

Not every Web site designer gets that you want to use your favorite browser, and not the one they think you should use. Some Web sites, for example, will block you if you aren't using Internet Explorer for Windows, even though the site will load properly in Safari or Firefox. Luckily, you can trick those sites by making your browser appear to Web servers as if it is Internet Explorer - or any other browser.

The trick is called browser spoofing, and it's not hard to do. Since your Web browser gladly identifies itself to any Web server that asks, all you have to do is make your browser lie and say that it is the browser that the server really wants it to be. All you need to do is find the right add-on to let you make the change.

Here's some options for a couple popular Web browsers:

  • Safari Safari's Debug menu lets you spoof as other browsers, but the menu is hidden by default. Add-ons like PithHelmet will let you activate the menu and then select the browser of your choice.
  • Camino In Camino, you can use the free CamiTools plug-in from PimpMyCamino.
  • Firefox Firefox users can use the Modify Headers add-on to accomplish this task, but it does involve entering some text commands. It, too, is free.

Unfortunately, this trick won't help you if the Web site requires specific features that are Internet Explorer for Windows-only, but it will get you into sites that are blocking you simple because you aren't using Explorer.

If you have a favorite tool for changing which app your Web browser claims to be, feel free to share your comments.

[Thanks to the CoMUG members for helping locate the Firefox and Camino add-ons.]

Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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