Some older sites have strict browser requirements, sometimes even forcing you to be on Windows despite running perfectly fine on other browsers. The browser required most of the time is Internet Explorer, which doesn’t run on Mac, and isn’t even the default on Windows anymore.

How to Get Around Browser Restrictions

The way a website knows what browser you’re using is by using a value called the “user agent”—a piece of data that’s sent with every request you make to a website, telling the server what browser and operating system you’re using. This is how sites decide whether to serve you a mobile or desktop version of the site, and this is also what most sites with browser restrictions use to lock you out of viewing them.

RELATED: What Is a Browser's User Agent?

So the solution is to fake your user agent. Sending a spoofed user agent will cause the website to think that you’re using a different browser without having to download a new one and switch over. You can also fake what operating system you’re running if the site demands Windows-only clients.

There’s no crazy hacking involved, as it’s a feature built into most modern browsers.

Changing Your User Agent

We’ll cover Safari here, as it’s the most used browser on Mac, but if you use another browser, you can read our guide for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox.

In Safari, click the “Safari” menu and then the “Preferences” command.

Switch over to the “Advanced” tab and then enable the “Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar” option.

You should now see a new “Develop” menu. Open it up, point to the “User Agent” submenu, and then select the browser you’d like to impersonate. You can spoof all versions of Internet Explorer; macOS and Windows versions of Chrome and Firefox; and even mobile browsers.

If you’d like to spoof something else, you can manually enter a user agent string by clicking the “Other” command at the bottom of the menu. We don’t advise editing it this way unless you know what you’re doing, though.

Changing your user agent should work for most things in your browser, but for anything that runs outside your browser, you’ll still need Windows (or the real Internet Explorer) to use them. If you need real Windows to run some software, you can try:

Usually in that order, as installing a full copy of Windows to your drive just to run IE is a bit overkill.

Image Credits: Shutterstock

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Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times.
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