Internet Explorer and it’s newer cousin Edge browsers work only on Windows machines. If you have a Mac device with you and you want to perform cross browser testing of your website on Internet Explorer or Edge, then you are out of luck. You would have to either invest in a separate Windows device or read this post till the end to know about few better alternatives.
Internet Explorer, once the most used browser in the world, has been deprecated back in 2015 by its manufacturer Microsoft. There are plenty of reasons behind the death of IE, primary reason was the dim light over the new and more advanced browser introduced by Microsoft called Edge. Even after being discontinued from the last 4 years, IE still holds a bigger market share than Edge.
Now, although the difference in browser market share is not so significant looking at the present. But let us have a look at it again from the last 4 years when Edge got launched and IE was discontinued by Microsoft.
As you can see the fall of IE is a lot faster than the rise of Edge. Now, Microsoft has joined the other side in the browser wars and are using Chrome’s Blink engine to create a brand new Edge browser, completely abandoning the Chakra framework. Not sure what these browser engines and framework meant?
In our previous posts, we talked about the cross browser compatibility testing of websites on Internet Explorer browsers. More specifically we talked about the death of IE and looked at some stats on why Internet Explorer, even after being deprecated, is still used by a lot of people today. Holding an overall browser market share of 2.52% makes it a relevant browser to keep in mind while preparing your cross browser testing checklist.
With that said, what if you have a Mac operating system? How can you test on IE then? We know that IE cannot be configured for MacOS but you cannot expect your customers to understand which operating system you used while developing your website. If your website is not cross browser compatible and fails to render properly in IE then you are losing that 2.52% of all the people using the internet and that my friend, is a significant number. My point being, you need to test on IE even if you are using a MacOS.
You may be thinking how is that possible? Don’t worry! This post we are going to explore 9 different alternatives for you to perform cross browser testing on Internet Explorer browsers even if you are using a Mac system.
Why Are You Not Able To Test With Internet Explorer On Mac?
Internet Explorer was once the default browser on Mac systems from 1998 to 2003. It was a result of the agreement between the two companies (Microsoft and Apple) that stated for five years, Internet explorer would be the default browser on Macintosh systems. It was a move to publicize Internet Explorer and give it a reach to each and every person using a computer. Microsoft even developed a separate development engine just for making Internet Explorer available for Mac systems. Not surprisingly, Internet Explorer became the most used browser in history.
However, this partnership did not last long. After five years, Apple introduced the Safari browser as the default browser in its systems. Arguably, Apple was not happy with the way Microsoft was treating Mac Systems. Internet Explorer updates would always be delayed in Mac systems. The reason for this is not known but the discussions on the development community state that developing the feature according to the Mac compatibility is very hard considering how to lose Internet Explorer is built-in regard to the W3C(World Wide Web Consortium) standards.
So, a feature that a Windows user had would take a year or more to be introduced for the Mac systems users. Apple was not happy with this behavior and they not only removed the Internet Explorer from their computers but also from their Apple application store. But, this created an issue for web developers. Internet Explorer had a huge loyal customer base and now that there was a new browser Safari for macOS, meant that the cross browser compatibility issues are standing around the corner once they test their website on macOS.
Cross Browser Testing with Internet Explorer
Cross browser testing means testing your website on different browsers, operating systems or resolutions. Testing your website on different platforms gives you the confidence of gaining your audience and presenting your website in a way it was designed to be, to all possible potential users. Cross browser compatibility testing helps the developer figure out the issues that will arise on different browsers and plan the site rendering in a better way to accommodate the way a browser renders the HTML code. You can use various tools and software available online to achieve cross-browser testing aims. Going conventional, it is not so easy to test IE on MacOS. There are some issues that stop a web developer from going through conventional ways to test IE on macOS.
How To Test With Internet Explorer on MacOS?
To perform a cross browser compatibility check of your website, you would need to test with IE on MacOS, and it was once considered a very challenging task. But the evolution of the programming languages and the advancement in various technologies have broken down this barrier for good. Now, you have multiple options to effortlessly perform testing with internet explorer on macOS. Not only website, but some of the methods will also brief about how to open Internet Explorer on MacOS System. So, the inner circle of the focus of this post would remain to test on Internet Explorer while the outer circle will enlighten about using Internet Explorer in general.
1. Online Cross Browser Testing Tools
Let’s start with the most obvious and preferred method that comes to everyone’s mind when someone says anything about testing a website.The easiest and the most cost-effective method is to take the help of an online cross browser testing tool like LambdaTest. Not only do you get instant access to all major browsers and browser versions, but you also get the facility of running the browser (and version) of your own choice right from your own local machine.
LambdaTest provides instant remote access to the real machine running Internet Explorer browser on real Windows operating systems. Cross browser compatibility tools today are the most preferred choice as they not only are cost-effective in the long run but also frees users from the hassle of upgrading, maintaining, and investing in in-house infrastructure.
So if you are using a macOS and are looking for a way to test your website on internet explorer then LambdaTest is your go-to stop. All you would need is to register for free and start testing your website on different versions of IE. That way, you can skip the hard method of installing any other software in your macOS, as we allow you to test your website on 2000+ real browsers running on machines hosted on the cloud. You can perform parallel testing and test on more than just IE browsers, simultaneously.
You can even execute automated cross browser testing with an online Selenium Grid to eliminate repetitive test scripts.
2. Local Virtual Machines
Virtual machines are the most flexible yet most time and resource intensive way to perform cross browser compatibility check. VM based solutions have been a part of the testing ecosystem for some time now. Virtual machines are the virtual setup on your physical machines to run a different operating system without actually installing the operating system. The user can also install the operating system along with the existing operating system in a straightforward conventional way.
Using virtual machines will not affect your booting time and the additional virtual operating system can be booted only when it is required. Creating Windows Virtual machines over your MacOS devices is an easy way to work, however, it would take up large hard disk space, is not 100% accurate, and you may feel it work a little slow if you are testing heavy web applications.
To test Internet Explorer on the Mac system, the user can install the Windows system “virtually” on his machine. By virtually I mean by making use of any virtual machine software that is compliant with the Mac systems. The most popular virtual machine software on Mac systems is Parallel Desktop.
The parallel desktop is available for the Macintosh system that will help the developer virtualize and emulate the operating system of his choice. The user can also make use of other virtual machine software like Oracle Virtual Box but it totally depends on the user as they all work in the same way.
3. Remote IE and Modern IE
In 2014, to help with cross browser compatibility check on Internet Explorer browsers, Microsoft launched an Azure Remote app named RemoteIE. This was a free service that allows you to run the latest versions of Internet Explorer browser on your system no matter what operating system you are using. And the best part, its lighter than installations of local Virtual Machines.
You get an app that streams a Microsoft Azure hosted IE environment, right to your device, and you can test your website on this two way streaming connection.
This facility was provided by Microsoft itself, seeing to the needs of the developers who needed to test their website on IE and running Mac OS. If you noticed, I used the word “ was “ in the last line because modern ie and remote ie are the things of the past now.
Since Microsoft itself is no longer interested in the development of Internet Explorer, it has tried hard to deprecate Internet Explorer from all operating systems including Windows. Walking on the same steps, Microsoft has stopped the modern IE and remote IE platform for Internet Explorer to give way and increase the popularity of their most promising browser- Microsoft Edge. Hitting the web address of modern ie now redirects to the Remote Edge page which lets the user test their website on the Microsoft Edge on the platforms that do not currently run Microsoft Edge.
4. Download Virtual Machine Setup Directly From Microsoft
Microsoft is also contributing to this event, even after deprecating modern IE and remote IE. Microsoft provides a simple and convenient method for those who would like to test with Internet Explorer on MacOS or to test with Edge on MacOS by virtual machines.
The user can visit this link and select his choice of browser and operating system along with the virtual machine he would like to test on. Once done, a zip file will be downloaded through which you can run the browser version you selected on your Macintosh.
There are however a couple of things to make notes of.
- You would need a software for MacOS to unzip the package.
- The machine you download would expire after 90 days.
5. Microsoft Remote Desktop Application
Microsoft Remote Desktop Application is yet another software developed and presented by Microsoft. Although, the use is not entirely just to test the browser as it was for remote IE and modern IE but yes, it can be used as one of the many ways described in this post to test the website on Internet Explorer if the user is running Macintosh system.
Microsoft Remote Desktop Application or MRDA (just made it myself) is an application used to remotely connect to a system running Windows. So, if I am running a Windows system, you can go ahead and connect to my system remotely using this application with proper settings and credentials.
Similarly, taking the above process in the reverse order, if the user is running Macintosh on his system and wants to test his website on Internet Explorer, he can connect to a system running Windows remotely. For this, as you might have already guessed, you need a system running Windows like your friend’s or family member’s. It should also have Microsoft Remote Desktop Application installed on that system to work.
Cloud-Based Remote Desktop Machines
With Microsoft Remote Desktop Applications, you now also have another avenue to get a windows environment, cloud based virtual machines. You can lease a Microsoft Azure based windows cloud machine with pre installed Internet Explorer or Edge browsers, and then access these machines through remote desktop applications. There is Microsoft’s official remote desktop client for MacOS machines as well that you can use to access windows environments with MacOS machines.
6. IE Tab
IE Tab or Internet Explorer tab is a very popular Google Chrome web extension that lets the user view the web pages as if they are rendered inside the Internet Explorer browser only without using Internet Explorer.
Since Google Chrome is available for all the major operating systems, installing this extension on your Google Chrome browser will quickly let the user test his website on the Internet Explorer, even if the user is having a MacOS.
Developed in Taiwan, IE tab extension is just 815KB in size and currently managed and developed by BlackFish Software. IE tab has been in the top 10 Google Chrome extensions since 2009 with 4+ million users today. Since the size is so less, all that the user needs to do here is go to the web store and search for the IE tab extension. Once the user finds the extension, he needs to add it to the chrome start exploring websites as if they are seen in the Internet Explorer.
WineBottler is yet another successful method for running Internet Explorer on the Mac systems.
WineBottler removes the hustle of installing another software like virtual machine software and then installing an OS on the virtual machine and then finally running the Internet Explorer. WineBottler comes with the complete package of using the applications designed for Windows on your Mac systems.
Just download the software file in the Windows format i.e. exe format and run the application through WineBottler. WineBottler will convert the Windows application into the Mac application. Once done, the user can just use the application on his Macintosh like any other application of Mac.
WineBottler also gives the convenience of running the .exe. application directly without any conversion into the Mac supported application. Now, you must be wondering such software must cost you a significant amount of money to purchase. But relax, this software is free of cost. However, if you do appreciate the software then you may go ahead and make a donation through their website.
The user can just download WineBottler and play Windows supported games and work on Windows-based software. But, we will stick to the topic of this post and see how to install Internet Explorer on to the Mac systems using WineBottler. As mentioned, just download the .exe file of Internet Explorer and you are ready to test with Internet Explorer on MacOS for your website.
8. Boot Camp Assistant
Boot Camp comes pre-build for Mac users under the Utilities folder. Boot Camp allows you to install numerous OS in their computer and boot the one that you need as per your preference. Meaning, you can install a Windows machine inside your Mac device. Once you have installed a Windows OS inside your Mac, you can switch between the two operating systems.
However, you would have to restart the device, every time that you wish to boot a new operating system. This could be problematic and time-consuming if you have a complex test suite where you need to test on multiple IE versions and Safari versions interchangeably. Also, since you have to restart the device every time you want to boot a different OS, you can not perform parallel testing.
Another downside is that you only get to test on Windows 10. So if you are looking to test for Internet Explorer on MacOS for Windows 8.1 or below then it isn’t possible with Boot Camp Assistant.
Also note, the Boot Camp Assistant is only available for the below Mac devices:
- iMac Pro
- MacBook introduced in 2015 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in 2013 or later
Devices introduced in 2012 or later:
9. Using The In-Built Develop Menu Of Your Safari Browser
Safari offers an interesting way to test Internet Explorer on MacOS by using the in-built Develop menu. It would host your website on IE version 7 and above without any virtualization.
In your Safari menu bar, go to Develop, and then User Agent. You will find a list of browsers for Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and more. This way you can perform cross browser testing from your Safari browser itself. Cool right?
Remember though that these browsers are not hosted on virtual machines, and are there to help you get the look and feel of your website. The results may not be as accurate as you may think. Also, if you wish to test the performance of your website on different browsers then Develop menu inside Safari isn’t your best bet.
So, What Would You Use To Test With Internet Explorer On MacOS?
So, is it hard to test Internet Explorer on your Mac running system? I do not think so. We have discussed so many methods through which it is possible. Actually, not only possible but convenient, easy and efficient. There was a time when Apple stopped the use and availability of Internet Explorer on their systems. But, necessity is the mother of invention. The same event led to the invention of so many methods just to open Internet Explorer on Mac systems.
Although the world is moving towards Microsoft Edge, the number of people using Internet Explorer is still significant and cannot be ignored. If you are one of the people who love to work on Mac but needs to test his website on Internet Explorer, then do share with us your favorite way to test with Internet Explorer on MacOS. Happy testing! 🙂
Originally published at LambdaTest
Author Harish Rajora