What is a User agent and how to change it

User agent: what it is, how to find it and change it. Why do we need a user agent in the browser and what are the types of User agent. Checking and changing the value.

What is a User agent and how to change it

During interaction with the browser, the user may come across such a concept as the User agent. The technology with this name is used in all web browsers.

Next, I propose to find out what a User agent is, where it is used and what benefits it can bring to an ordinary user.

The concept of user agent

It is necessary to start with deciphering the concept itself, so that at least a superficial knowledge of it is formed. User agent is a software element of the browser that denotes the person using it. It is usually stored in a file and contains several text lines, which are just what are needed for identification. The action of the user agent takes place on the network on behalf of the user himself, it identifies the browser and requests access to pages after sending the request to the server.

The user agent file most often includes information about the browser, its version, the device being used, the operating system, and the web rendering engine. The development of the User agent made it possible to get rid of the problem when specific web countries could only process certain browsers for which they were developed.

Types of User Agent

It is important to note that each type of device, be it a PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet, can have its own user agent, and then everything depends on the software used. The User Agent is identified:

  • Web browsers. This includes all browsers: Google Chrome, Yandex.Browser, Opera and others.
  • Search engines. Yandex, Google, Rambler and all other search engines also access web pages, respectively, have their own UA.
  • Game consoles. If you launch a browser or use Web Elements on your Xbox or PS, the device also goes online, and then the User Agent takes over.
  • Link monitors. There are special resources dedicated to checking links, and yes, they also use this technology.
  • Electronic books. Most modern models have Wi-Fi on board, which allows you to run a browser, albeit for minimal tasks.

This is a list of the main products that use the User Agent, which is quite enough to understand how widely this programming mechanism is used and how much it simplifies the interaction with web pages.

How to find out and change the User Agent

To find out the User Agent of a browser while using a PC or mobile device, you do not need to search for any files or study configurations by going to pages using special links. To accomplish this task, there are special tools that are built into popular online services that collect and provide certain information. For example, our GoWebTools website has a tool that displays the current User Agent string.

You only need to go to the corresponding page of the selected online service and scroll down a little if the first lines do not contain the necessary information. By the way, if the browser configuration was changed manually specifically in order to block the correct UA, it will not be detected using the online service.

Changing the User agent may be required by web designers who check the site’s performance on different devices (you don’t need to install a bunch of different browsers and use smartphones with different diagonals - you installed a plugin with a User agent substitution and switch between available “devices”), and users who want to hide information about your PC and browser, because due to this software mechanism, no information is collected.

The principle of changing the user agent in different web browsers is different, but almost always the universal method will be to use the User-Agent Switcher.

Install this extension, open the main menu and change the data in the line to the required ones. There are other plugins of this kind that you can easily find in the extension store of your browser.

To clarify, for Chrome, you can use a simpler method related to changing the properties of the object. To do this, right-click on the shortcut that you use to launch the program, from the context menu go to its properties and in the field with a link to the object add:

--user-agent="enter User agent here"

In this article, you learned that the User agent is an extremely useful feature that allows you to comfortably use any browsers and other web browsers without worrying that some site may not open due to compatibility problems or its the appearance does not adapt to the device used.


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