Testing your site in different browsers

Updates have been a little slow lately, I’ve been working on a new portfolio site and setting up my own Ubuntu server at home (which there will be a guide on sooner or later), I’ve also been working on a few more, longer posts for this site. I’ve also been debating whether to try out some video tutorials but I’m put off by the thought that a lot of viewers might not be able to understand my accent!

Anyway, on with the post. A while ago I wrote a guide on installing multiple versions of IE on your computer for testing purposes.

Since then there have been a few changes, first off IE8 has been released and a few more programs have been developed. I’m going to go through a few options you have when testing your site.

Spoon Browser Sandbox

Spoon Browser Sandbox

The first program I want to mention is the Spoon browser sandbox. For me, this is a fantastic idea. The first time you visit the site it will ask you to install a Firefox addon (if you’re running FireFox, I’m not sure what it does for other browsers). Then it will show you a fantastic list of browsers (IE 6,7,8; FireFox 2,3,3.5; Opera 9,10; Safari 3,4 and Chrome) all you do is click on the thumbnail and it launches the browser straight from the web.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this to work with IE8 when I tried (the browser launched and then just closed again) but it did work with Safari so I’m guessing it’s either a bug with the IE8 installer on their site or something up with my computer so I’d love to hear how it works for you guys.

IE Tester

IE Tester

IE Tester is a program designed just to test sites in different versions of IE. It lets you look at your site in IE 5.5, 6, 7 and 8 which is really more than enough. The program is a little buggy and does close every now and again but it is free and I’m sure they’re looking at fixing these little bugs. I would advise you download the DebugBar aswell as you need this to view the source of the page you’re looking at.

Browser Shots

Browser Shots

This site takes the idea of cross browser testing from a slightly different angle. Instead of installing a program on your computer it takes your web URL and opens it in a number of different browsers on a number of different operating systems (you can select which ones when you add your site).

The downsides of this site are that it isn’t instant and you only get to see a screenshot rather than the actual page. On the other hand, you get to see your site on different operating systems so if you’re on a Windows PC, you could check your site out in Safari on OSX which really is invaluable if you don’t have access to multiple operating systems.



So far all of the options I’ve looked at have been free so to balance the whole thing out I’m going to look at a paid option (they do have a free package aswell). Litmus is an online application that lets you test how your application or website looks in a load of different browsers in either OSX or Windows. Similar to Browser Shots, Litmus will show you a screenshot of your site in the different browsers.

Litmus really does have some awesome features that makes paying for the app worth it if you’re serious about your application or if you’re a designer/developer. First of all, you can get screenshots of sites that are password protected, just enter a username and password the application can use and it will do the rest. Litmus will also generate a nice compatibility report that you can use to explain your findings to your boss, client or whoever!

Finally Litmus will also let you test how your emails will look in different email clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail and some more. It also does web based clients like GMail, Yahoo Mail, AOL, Live Mail/Hotmail and a few others.


Hopefully now you will have a good idea of different ways to test your site in different browsers and even on different operating systems.

I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with the software I mentioned above or if you have any other suggestions!

  • Pingback: Use IE6 and IE7 on the same computer()

  • http://www.becomeknown.co.uk James

    Unfortunately the excellent Spoon Browser Sandbox doesn’t seem to work on Windows 7.

  • Andrew

    Fwiw I’ve been in contact with some of the devs @ spoon.net and am trying to feed them info on how to get the browser sandboxes working with Windows 7.

  • http://www.jamesowers.co.uk Jmz

    Thanks for the comment Andrew, keep us up to date on how things are going!

  • http://www.browserseal.com BrowserSeal

    BrowserSeal is a new fast multi browser screenshot application that supports Firefox, IE6, IE7, IE8, Chrome, Safari and Opera and allows to test web sites located on a hard drive or corporate intranet. Prices are extremely competitive.

  • http://www.metacomdesign.com/blog Ryan

    Good post. I’ve used BrowserShots religiously since cross-browser-testing.com got rid of their free service. I’ll have to check out these others as well!
    .-= Ryan´s last blog ..Panorama of Three Pictures =-.

  • http://up.zachshouse.org Brian H.

    This is awesome. I’m going to go to browsershots.org right now. Thanks.
    .-= Brian H.´s last blog ..Dallas Jury Awards Casual Video Game Publisher MumboJumbo $4.6 Million in Lawsuit Against PopCap =-.

  • http://www.pressure-sensors.org Connor Campbell

    Internet Explorer 8 is very good because it is as stable as Opera. I hate the previous versions of IE like IE6 because it hangs frequently. `

  • http://www.sublingualvitamins.net Sophie Wilson

    Internet Explorer 8 have been my most used browser this year, it is definitely stable and fast loading too. -

  • http://www.tom-elliott.net/ Tom Elliott

    You might want to check out adobe browserlab too – all the latest browsers and OS.