How to View Internet Explorer Sites on a Mac

Safari can mimic many types of browsers

Screenshot of the Internet Explorer logo

Microsoft

Internet Explorer was once the most dominant web browser in use on the internet. Safari, Google Chrome, Edge, and Firefox came along and cut into that dominant position. They offered faster browsers with better security and built them on standards that produced an open web platform.

Microsoft discontinued Internet Explorer for Mac in 2005 and no longer supports it, but there are ways to open a problematic IE-based website on a Mac.

In the early years of Internet Explorer development, Microsoft imbued it with proprietary features that differentiated the IE browser from others. The result was that many web developers created websites that relied on Internet Explorer's unique features to operate correctly. When these websites were visited with other browsers, there was no guarantee they would look or act as intended.

Since that time, web standards promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) have become the gold standard for both browser development and website building. However, there are still websites out there that were built initially to work best—or only—with Internet Explorer.

On a Mac, there are ways you can view and work with just about any website designed for specific browsers, including Internet Explorer.

Install Alternative Browsers

Most computer users have a preferred browser. For Mac users, it is usually Safari, but there's no reason you shouldn't have multiple browsers installed. Having additional browsers doesn't adversely affect the performance of your computer or your default browser. They give you the option to view a troublesome website in a different browser, and in many cases, that's all it takes to view a website that doesn't render correctly in Safari.

Some browsers worth installing on your Mac:

This multiple-browser approach works because, in the past, web developers often targeted a specific browser or operating system when they built their websites. It wasn't that they wanted to keep people away; it was that with so many different types of browsers and computer graphics systems available, it was difficult to predict how a website would look from one platform to another.

When you run across a website that doesn't display or operate the way you expect in Safari, using a different web browser may be all you need to view the website in question correctly.

Use the Safari Develop Menu

Safari has a hidden menu that provides a wide range of specialized tools and utilities used by web developers. Two of these tools can be helpful when trying to view misbehaving websites. However, before you can make use of them, you need to enable Safari's Develop menu in Safari's Preferences > Advanced screen. After you have Develop in the Safari menu bar, you can opt to use the Open Page With command or the Safari User Agent.

Safari Open Page With Command

Safari's Open Page With command opens the current website in any one of the different browsers you have on your Mac. This is no different than manually launching a different installed browser, and then copying and pasting the current website URL into the newly opened browser.

Open Page With simplifies the process with a menu selection.

  1. Click Develop in the Safari menu bar.

  2. Choose Open Page With in the drop-down menu.

  3. Click on one of the browsers installed on your Mac in the submenu to open the current web page in that browser.

    Develop menu in Safari menu bar

Safari User Agent


Safari allows you to specify the user agent code that your computer sends to any website you visit. It's the user agent that tells the website which browser you're using, and it's the user agent that the site uses to decide if it can serve the web page correctly for you.
If you've ever encountered a website that remains blank, doesn’t seem to load, or produces a message saying something along the lines of, This website is best viewed with <browser name>, then you may want to try changing Safari's user agent.

  1. From the Develop drop-down menu, select User Agent to open a list of available user agents that allow Safari to masquerade as Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, or iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch versions of Safari.

    The Develop menu in Safari
  2. Make a selection from the list, and the browser reloads the current page using the new user agent. Repeat the process with different user agents as needed.

  3. Reset the user agent back to the Default (Automatically Chosen) setting when you’re done visiting the website.

Use Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge on Your Mac

If all else fails, and you absolutely must access the website in question, then the last solution is to use IE or Edge via Windows running on your Mac.

Neither of these Windows-based browsers is available in a Mac version, but it’s possible to run Windows on your Mac and gain access to either of the popular Window browsers by using Boot Camp to install Windows 10 on your Mac.

Still no luck? Download the Edge app to your iPad or iPhone and see what you can see. It's a long shot but worth a try.