How to Force Websites to Not Redirect to Mobile Versions on Cell Phones

By Shea Laverty

With the rise of mobile Web browsing on smartphones and tablets, many websites offer "mobile-friendly" versions to reduce strain and lag on the devices. While these mobile-friendly versions work for some people, their typically stripped-down functions are lackluster to others. Much to the frustration of those who would prefer the full version of the website, the site often redirects mobile browsers to the mobile version with no warning. Android users can easily prevent this by changing the User Agent String, which tells the website what browser you're using. If you're using iOS, a third-party browser is the only alternative to manually editing Safari's User Agent String through a backup file.

Android Browser

Step 1

Launch the Android browser.

Step 2

Enter "about:debug" without quotes into the URL bar and tap enter. This adds the otherwise hidden debug menu to the Settings menu.

Step 3

Open the Settings menu and scroll to the bottom. There should be an option marked "UAString."

Step 4

Change the setting to "desktop" and test using a page that normally redirects you to the mobile version. If the full version loads, you've successfully changed User Agents and will no longer have to deal with forced redirects.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you use a third-party browser, changing the User Agent string may be built into the preferences or settings menu. Check these menus to see if the option is available -- it may be listed in the advanced options menu.
  • Safari for iOS doesn't feature the ability to change User Agents. This means your only option is a third-party browser that does feature User Agent switching, like Google's Chrome, Sleipnir Mobile, Terra, Atomic Web Browser, iCab Mobile or Skyfire.
  • Not every mobile browser features the option to change User Agent strings. While this feature is increasingly common, you will need to try a different browser if yours doesn't feature this option.