The right way to Run Web Explorer on Your Mac (and Why You May Need To)

Choosing your internet browser is not an easy decision, but it is an issue that very few users consider. We have come a long way from the early days when Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer were slow and insecure Internet browsers. People now prefer to use Safari and Microsoft Edge over third-party browsers, mainly because they are installed by default and provided by the manufacturer itself.

Although Windows now officially ships with Microsoft Edge, some people still remember the good old Internet Explorer days and wonder if they can get the same experience on their Mac. Today we're going to take a look at whether installing Internet Explorer on a Mac is even possible and what alternatives are available.

Can you install Internet Explorer on a Mac?

Microsoft hasn't released an official Mac version of Internet Explorer since version 5.2.3 in 2005, which means the browser is not officially supported on macOS. This makes sense as this was once a Windows exclusive browser and Microsoft has switched to Microsoft Edge in the past few years. The last version of Internet Explorer was supported prior to OS X 10.6, and we strongly advise against running these insecure versions of the operating system in today's modern Internet age.

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You can trick websites into believing that you are using Internet Explorer

Believe it or not, there are still some websites that haven't been updated in many years that still only support Internet Explorer browsers. While it is very unlikely that you would come across such websites today, they still exist and cannot be accessed without Internet Explorer.

If this is the case for you, there is a little workaround where you trick the website through your browser by following our guide to change your "user agent".

A user agent is a text string that tells the website which browser and operating system you are using. For example, it tells a website that you are running Google Chrome on macOS, which then adjusts all settings (if necessary) for the respective browser. This trick allows you to access Internet Explorer-only websites in another browser such as Chrome or Safari.

Related: Safari vs. Chrome for Mac: Reasons You Shouldn't Use Chrome

The workaround works most of the time; However, it's not that secure in terms of privacy. However, it should do the job for small tasks

Use Microsoft Edge instead

Chances are, you are trying to install Internet Explorer on your Mac for a consistent experience across your Windows and Mac platforms. This isn't uncommon – macOS can be intimidating to new users switching from Windows at first. If you're looking for a similar browsing experience, we recommend installing and using Microsoft Edge on your Mac.

Microsoft Edge for macOS is officially supported by Microsoft and works similarly to the Windows version. You can use this to import your internet settings, bookmarks, and more from your Windows PC and get used to it before checking out other browsers.

Related: Microsoft Edge for Mac: Should You Use Microsoft's Browser?

The most obvious benefit of using Microsoft Edge on your Mac is being able to sync your life across multiple computers.

Whether you actually like what Microsoft has to offer or not, there are a large number of people who are forced to use Microsoft Edge in their offices all day just to go home to their Macs at night without theirs Continue sessions or simply migrate their data. If you are one of those people, having the same browser on all of your frequently used computers can take away a huge headache.

Use virtual apps to run Internet Explorer

There are special apps that let you run virtual software in it – that can be used to run Internet Explorer in a virtual environment on macOS. The process is a bit tedious so we recommend reaching out to them only if the user-agent method doesn't work for you.

While it is possible to use various virtual environments and Boot Camp to get it working, the fastest and easiest way to do it is to use a program called WineBottler. You'll go through the two most common methods below – WineBottler and VirtualBox.

Wine bottler

Like Wine for Linux, this software lets you run a number of Windows-based programs on your Mac without the hassle of booting multiple operating systems or buying expensive Windows licenses.

You can download the software from the developer's website and install it in the normal way (be sure to move both the Wine and WineBottler files to your Apps folder).

The program is very powerful indeed and can be configured to read multiple prefixes and install a wide range of software. Fortunately, Internet Explorer is one of the standard offerings, and you will be given the option to download it from the page you see the first time you run WineBottler.

The latest version available is Internet Explorer 8. Select it and click To install, and then choose where you want to save it (usually the Applications folder). WineBottler takes care of the rest.

Once the process is complete, simply launch the newly installed app from any location and you're good to go.

VirtualBox

VirtualBox, which is developed by Oracle and is free to use, allows you to run different operating systems in a virtual environment on your Mac.

First you need to download both the VirtualBox software and the expansion pack. You can obtain both from Softpedia. First, install the software DMG file.

Once that's done, you'll need to run the VirtualBox manager and then immediately close it again. This allows the system to log some necessary information. Next, open your Mac's Terminal app (you can find it in the Utilites folder in your Finder or Launchpad) and paste the command that corresponds to the version of Internet Explorer you want to install below.

For Internet Explorer 11, Windows 7 image only:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS = "11" field

For Internet Explorer 10 only:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS = "10" beat

For Internet Explorer 9 only:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS = "9" field

Only for Internet Explorer 8, Windows XP, small picture:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS = "8" beat

Only for Internet Explorer 7, Windows XP, small picture:

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS = "7" field

It's worth noting that users with older Macs should probably choose a version that uses Windows XP. Although it is old and unsupported, it is enough for low usage and it puts a lot less strain on your system's resources.

That's it. Wait for the file to download (which can sometimes take up to two hours) and run the virtual machine. You will be prompted to install the updates and enable automatic updates (neither are strictly required). You will then see the Windows desktop along with the version of Internet Explorer you selected from the list above.

Why use Internet Explorer on a Mac?

Installing Internet Explorer on your Mac is all well and good, but why should you? What are the benefits?

There have been many websites specifically designed with Internet Explorer as a top priority – certainly websites published before 2010, the year Chrome began its meteoric rise. It often happens that Internet Explorer renders these older sites much more reliably than some of its competitors, and it's also often easier to use with business-related sites like Webex or HTML IT consoles like Kaseya because of its ActiveX technology.

However, Internet Explorer has been officially discontinued by Microsoft, which means that you shouldn't use it except in exceptional cases.

There's a mindset that suggests that you should always have at least two browsers installed, and whether you're making Safari, Chrome, or Firefox your primary tool, there are few better options than Internet Explorer as a backup.

Microsoft Edge: A Modern Internet Explorer?

Microsoft retired Internet Explorer in 2020 and the browser will officially retire on June 30, 2022. We believe this is for the best – Microsoft Edge has taken the reins and has proven to be a much better, more stable, and reliable browser. You can install Edge on your Mac for a consistent experience across your Windows and Mac platforms. Remember, you can do the same with other browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, all of which have cross-platform support.

In any case, we do not recommend using Internet Explorer on your Mac. But if you have to do this in exceptional cases, the methods above should help you.

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About the author

Shujaa Imran
(33 published articles)

Shujaa Imran is a die-hard Apple user and loves helping others with their macOS and iOS issues. Apart from that, he is also a cadet pilot who wants to become a professional pilot one day.

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By Shujaa Imran

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