Preview iPhone Websites in Safari


Last year we published a tip showing how web designers could test their website designs on Apple’s iPhone Simulator. Here is another, simpler, tip along those lines.

Many companies today are creating special versions of their website that automatically display for iPhone visitors. Some examples include Amazon, Google, Bank of America, and even our CreativeTechs Tips blog.

Turn on Safari’s Developer Menu option and you can easily tell Safari to impersonate an iPhone (or other browser types) when visiting different webpages. It isn’t the same as a full iPhone simulator, but this can be pretty useful for web designers testing custom site designs.

Accessing Safari’s Developer Menu.

Go to the Advanced section of Safari’s preferences dialog, and turn on the checkbox for “Show Developer menu in menu bar.”


There are a number of intriguing options to explore in the newly visible Develop menu. Choose Develop > User Agent  Mobile Safari to impersonate an iPhone while browsing websites.


This isn’t the same as a full iPhone simulator. For example, you’ll have to reduce the width of your page to properly fit an iPhone design. But it still provides a quick way to test and preview iPhone-optimized sites.

Here is what the website looks like when Safari is impersonating an iPhone User Agent:


Source: I ran across this feature while testing the new Safari 4 beta and realized that the option was included in earlier copies of Safari as well. Read more about this feature in Apple’s Safari User Guide for Web Developers.


  1. says

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  2. says

    My husband had noticed how my eyes would glaze over everytime the TV ad for the iPhone would come on, and surprised me yesterday by meeting me after work for dinner and then off to the Apple store. Once there, we never even approached the front of the store due to the crowds. It was something like two hours before we could even see the inside of the store. So, we just got some ice cream and chatted about the day while waiting.

  3. says

    Cool, that was a great article. You make some really great points.

    I personally think Apple is going too far with the secrecy about their new products. Case in point, the 4th gen iPhone. One gets lost in a bar by a drunk employee, and the person who finds it tries to return it. Apple won’t take it because they don’t believe him, so he sells it to Jason Chen, and they’ve got their panties in a twist about it and are charging him with a felony. I personally find it ridiculous.

    Anyway, I’ve written about it on my site. Check it out at Thanks for the read!

  4. says

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  5. says

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  7. says

    This will only work with sites developed specifically for the iPhone and deliver the website by inspecting the user agent. If a website hasn’t got this set up, then a lot of the features that Safari has the Mobile Safari doesn’t (such as a Flash player) will incorrectly display. Obviously making it a little unreliable for anything more than playing around to look at other sites.

  8. says

    Something came to my mind that Applications cannot work everywhere, an iPhone app would work only on iPhone and not on blackberry or any other. This is why i think that iPhone compatable websites (like are a better in comparison to applications. Cost effective, work on every platform, Just a browser needed, and so many benefits. And after some googling this is what i got:
    ‘Made for iPhone’ websites by SDPlabs makes it even simpler and easier to have a iPhone compatible website.
    Hope that helps someone.

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