User agents help website owners learn how visitors use their sites. Whenever someone visits a website, their browsers communicate with the site with its user agent. A string of code or text identifies the browser and the user’s operating system. Ideally, the user agent impacts how the site interacts with the browser to provide a more user-friendly experience.

Learning how to change the user agent in the most popular browsers like Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox can help website owners see how their sites interact with different users. They can also change user agents to make the website think you’re accessing it from a different device type. This is a great solution for people doing mobile testing from a desktop computer and vice versa.

Let’s explore more about user agents and go through how to change them on the leading browsers.

The User Agent Basics

We know what a user agent is, but why would someone want to change their user agent in a browser? There are various reasons, including web development. Some developers, for example, prefer to work in Chrome, and others in Firefox. Changing the user agent renders the website as if the developer is using a different browser without having to change the one they’re using.

Changing user agents can also help internet users overcome restrictions specific to a certain browser. For example, some websites don’t work well on smaller browsers, so users can switch their user agent to make it seem like they’re visiting the website from a Chrome tab. If they’re worried about privacy, for example, they may not want to use Chrome, but the browser’s popularity means it’s probably going to offer the smoothest experience.

The final reason to change user agents is privacy. There are other, more specific ways that an unprotected connection identifies someone on a computer. For example, someone’s IP address is much more specific than the user agent because user agents only identify the browser and operating system.

However, some people want to work or play online with complete anonymity, so changing the user agent keeps things even more private. People should also know that this isn’t a foolproof privacy measure. Most websites can uncover your true information with a bit of work.

Why User Agents Matter for SEO

SEO experts and digital marketers use different user agents to test campaigns on specific platforms before spending a lot of money deploying them. For example, changing website designs or building new offers into landing pages takes time and resources. In testing environments, you can see what they’ll look like to customers visiting from any operating system or browser.

Building operating system-specific campaigns with all of the nuances specific to a different browser or device can make a big difference in how a website, blog article, or ad is received. Show your customers you go the extra mile by testing your campaigns across platforms.

How to Change Your User Agent in Chrome

Here are a few steps that will help you change your user agent in Chrome. Customization is fantastic for testing environments useful for developers and is ideal when people want to remain private online.

  1. First, open a webpage in Chrome and click on the three-dot menu on the very top right of the browser. Scroll down to “More Tools”, then select “Developer Tools.”
  1. Then, just under the last three-button menu you selected in the very top right, there should be another three-button menu in the Developer Tools Section. Click on it, then go to “More Tools”, and then select “Network Conditions.”
  1. Once you’re inside Network Conditions, you can uncheck the box that selects the browser’s user agent automatically. Once unchecked, you can customize the user agent based on your desired user experience.

How to Change Your User Agent in Edge

Now, onto the Edge browser! Despite Chrome’s size, millions of people still use Edge because it’s the default browser on millions of PCs. It’s a great browser that’s fast, but its main drawback is that it lacks Google’s default browser in the search bar when people first start using it. Here’s how you can change your user agent in Edge.

Follow these steps:

  1. Override the user agent string by getting into Microsoft Edge Developer Tools. First, press Ctrl + Shift + P to open the command menu. Then type “network conditions” in the search bar. Select “Show Network Conditions” to open the tool.
  1. Like Chrome, uncheck the box that selects the browser’s default user agent string. Once unchecked, a dropdown menu becomes available where you can customize your user agent string.
  1. You can either choose a user agent from the provided list or enter a custom user agent.

How to Change Your User Agent in Safari

Despite the differences between Windows and macOS, changing the user agent strings on Apple’s browser Safari is also quite simple.  Here are the steps to follow:

  1. First, on the top left of your open browser, click on the Safari tab in the toolbar. Select “Preferences” from the dropdown menu.
  1. Click on “Advanced” on the far right of the pop-up menu, and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar” located at the bottom of the screen.
  1. Now, you should see “Develop” at the top in your menu bar. First, click on “Develop” and scroll down to “User Agent.” It should be second from the top.  It’s likely set to default, so take a look at the different operating systems and browser experiences available to choose from. In addition, you can scroll to the bottom and click on “Other” to input something else.

How to Change Your User Agent in Firefox

Finally, let’s learn how to change your user agent in Firefox. Thankfully, the browser has some built-in settings that simplify changing the user agent string. Follow these steps to make the change:

  1. Download and install the Firefox add-on named User-Agent Switcher. Once installed, you should see the new switcher icon in the top-right of your browser tab. Click on it, and you can choose from various icons, from the iconic Apple to Microsoft’s Windows logo. Likewise, you can click on several browser tabs, including the mobile OS Opera and older Internet Explorer.