How to View Internet Explorer Sites on a Mac

Safari can mimic many types of browsers

Screenshot of the Internet Explorer logo


Internet Explorer, sometimes referred to as IE, was once the most dominant web browser used on the Internet. Safari, Google Chrome, Edge, and Firefox would later cut into that dominant position, offering faster browsers with better security that were built on standards that produced an open web platform.

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

Thankfully, web standards, as promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), have become the gold standard for both browser development and website building. But there are still many websites out there that were originally built to work only, or at least best, with specific browsers, such as Internet Explorer.

Here are the ways you can view and work with just about any website designed for specific browsers, including IE, Edge, Chrome, or Firefox, on your Mac.

Alternative Browsers

Firefox Quantum

Most computer users have a preferred browser; for Mac users, this is usually Safari, but there’s no reason why you shouldn't have multiple browsers installed. Having additional browsers won’t adversely affect the performance of your computer or your default browser. What it will do is give you the option to view a troublesome website in a different browser, and in many cases, this is all that needs to be done to view a website that’s causing issues.

The reason this works is that, in the past, web developers would target a specific browser or a specific operating system when they built their websites. It wasn’t that they wanted to keep people away, it was just 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.

Using a different web browser may allow the website in question to look correct; it can even cause a button or field that refused to show up in one browser to be in the proper place in another.

Some browsers worth installing on your Mac:

Safari User Agent

Safari's hidden 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 very helpful when trying to view non-cooperating websites. But before you can make use of them, you need to Enable Safari's Develop Menu.

Safari User Agent
Safari allows you to specify the user agent code that is sent to any website you’re visiting. It’s the user agent that tells the website which browser you’re using, and it’s the user agent that the website uses to decide if it will be able to serve up the webpage 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 <insert browser name here> then you may want to try changing Safari's user agent.

  1. From Safari's Develop menu, select the User Agent item. The list of available user agents displayed will allow Safari to masquerade as Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, even iPhone and iPad versions of Safari.
  2. Make your selection from the list. The browser will reload the current page using the new user agent.
  3. Don’t forget to reset the user agent back to the Default (Automatically Chosen) setting when you’re done visiting the website.

Safari Open Page With Command

Safari's Develop menu

Safari's Open Page With command allows you to open the current website in a different browser. This is actually no different than manually launching a different installed browser, and then copy-pasting the current website URL into the newly opened browser.

Open Page With just takes care of the entire process with a simple menu selection.

  1. To use the Open Page With command you’ll need access to the Safari Develop menu, as linked to in Item 2, above.
  2. From the Safari Develop menu, select Open Page With. A list of browsers installed on your Mac will be displayed.
  3. Select the browser you wish to use.
  4. The selected browser will open with the current website loaded.

Use Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge on Your Mac

Microsoft Edge browser

If all else fails, and you absolutely must access the website in question, then the last course to try is to use IE or Edge 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.

For complete details on how to set your Mac up to run Windows, take a look at our article on The 5 Best Ways to Run Windows on Your Mac.