User Agent switching for Google Chrome

I’ve been giving google chrome a test run and so far I am undecided. It appears to be faster than Firefox but I’m not sure that it’s as fast as konqueror. One thing I noticed was how animated the whole Internet is with flash, image animations and javascript messing about. I’ll let you in on a little secret. For years I have not been seeing the Internet as most people experience it.

  • I turn image animation off in Firefox about:config then set
    image.animation_mode to once.
  • I use flash block to control which sites I allow to run flash.
  • I run the NoScript plugin to give me control over which sites I will let run javascript.

All this leads to a more calm and much less distracting experience. I don’t block advertisements but the steps above ensure that I don’t see the hard sell ones.

Within chrome there doesn’t appear to be any way to turn off animated images or control javascript and there is no NoScript extension as yet. Confusingly there are two FlashBlock scripts both appear to work fine.

I was happy to see that the Xmarks (formally Foxmarks) plugin was available. I have been using it for years without problems. Since I installed it on chrome the performance has been flaky across all computers and browsers. It could be the maturity of the chrome plugin or the fact that I just doubled it’s workload by adding chrome on every computer. Either way I disabled it on chrome.

One thing that is missing is the ability to switch User Agent string. Hard to believe that websites still think they know better than me what browser and OS I should be running. While there is no plugin or menu configuration, I found a site that explains how you can start chrome by passing it a user-agent switch.

Typing the about: in the url bar will normally give:

Google Chrome (Official Build 34537)
WebKit	532.5
User Agent	Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US)
AppleWebKit/532.5 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/532.5

After starting chrome with the command

$/opt/google/chrome/chrome -user-agent="Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;
MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)"

Typing the about: in the url bar will now give:

Google Chrome (Official Build 34537)
WebKit	532.5
User Agent	Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)

I can’t really say much more at this stage other than I hope Firefox can go back to their roots and produce a small and fast browser again. I hope Google will continue their business arrangement with Mozilla so they can do that. One thing we learned since Firefox came on the scene is that Browser competition is good for everyone.

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3 Responses to User Agent switching for Google Chrome

  1. Frank says:

    wow, works great. I created separate icon for chrome in linux with this user agent string. I had to change MSIE 6.0 to MSIE 7.0, but works great (intuit doesn’t support 6.0 now). I had been using FF for Win in WINE and worked but very slow. Now it appears printing, excel (opens in open office ss), and preview into pdf all work great, and fast. thanks.

  2. Frank says:

    i should have explained it was quickbooks online pro that I needed this workaround for, so that’s the testing I was referring to.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the tip, I’m using it to fool Netflix into thinking I’m using IE 8 on Windows 7 so I can watch StarzPlay Live Streaming and here’s the Windows bit:

    C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe -user-agent="Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; Trident/4.0)"

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