How can I test my site in IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10 and Internet Explorer 11

  • How can I reliably test my site on all old versions of Internet Explorer ranging from IE6 all the way up to version IE11?

    Wasn't there a stack exchange partner site that did this about a year ago? It was on a stackoverflow podcast... I forget the name, and can't find any reference to it.

  • Hitting F12 on IE8 it should start the Developer Tools that allows you to emulate IE7 (not IE6) using the Browser Mode.

    IE8 emulates IE7

    I suppose on IE9 you will be able to emulate back at least until IE7, but I'm only supposing because now it irritates me the simple idea to have to buy W7 in order to test this.

    UPDATE: as specified by Jeff Atwood: IE9 emulates back until IE7 too.

    UPDATE 2: as suggested by Nick in comments below, if you want to be 100% sure to emulate the old IE browsers you can use VMs provided by Microsoft (incredibly they are also provided for free). As a side note, keep in mind that testing on VMs is more time consuming than using IE Developer Tools, IMHO VMs testing might be worth when testing something that's JS/CSS greedy like a web app or a complex website, not for simple sites that use jQuery and some CSS.

    +1 - What perfect timing! An hour of my time was lost forever as I searched the entire company for someone still stuck in 2007 using IE7. Then it took a good 30 minutes to get a screen share with her so we could verify she was actually using IE7 and not IE8. Now, instead of installing Windows XP and IE7 on a VMWare image to fix my bug, I'll use your seemingly obvious, simplistic solution that has for so long seemed to escape my vision ;) How could I have missed this? Thank you!!

    indeed, confirmed: IE9 lets you emulate IE7, IE8, IE9 and IE9 compatibility mode.

    Is the emulation exactly the same, or could there be some small differences.

    @Saif Bechan: there could be certaintly differencies considering the thousands of updates released continuosily by Microsoft for both their browsers and their Operative Systems. But think at the other possibilities to test IE: you would have to install 3 VM with Windows, one for IE7, one or IE8, and one for IE9. But also those testing environments might still be different from the final users environments that probably have installed (or have not installed) some Windows/IE/Office updates that you have not installed.

    @MarcoDemaio I had been using this option for quite some time, and I have to say, the differences between this and using a VM are HUGE! I have no idea where this option is for but it does not emulate anything. There could still be small changes when using an vm, but I think you get 99.9% close. For proper crossbrowser webdevelopment you can not rely on these tools, you need a VM, or use online testers like browserlab. In all my project, using IE9 with compatibility mode was just useless.

    @Saif Bechan: don't know about compatibility mode, my sites use always standard mode (they don't swicth to compatibility mode) and the Tester tool seemed quite reliable until IE8, I admit I still did not try IE9. Anyway thanks for your comment, I will definitely give a try to VPC images suggested by Craige

    @MarcoDemaio I would say give it a try. It could also be the way I develop my websites. Most of the problems come with absolute posisioned elements and z-indexes, overflows, that kind of stuff. If I use ie9 in ie7 mode everything looks great. Then when I power up my winxp VM's the problems start. It's a totally different world in there, up is down, left is right. Try it, and share what the results are. Maybe if you have really consistent skills it all looks the same. I can only speak for myself.

    @MarcoDemaio There are definitely differences between IE 9's IE 7 mode and the real IE 7. I gave two examples here.

    @Nick: +1, but the two examples you provided did not convince me it's worth the effort to install 3 VMs (that will become 4 when IE10 comes out) and to test every time running 3/4 VMs. Anyway the link you provided to download VM from MS site is an excellent link. I updated the answer.

    @MarcoDemaio Thanks. I agree with what you wrote in your update. Another time when it would be a good idea to test in the VMs is if your analytics tell you that a significant number of your users are using older versions of Internet Explorer. In that case, even if the site wasn't JS/CSS greedy, I probably wouldn't take the risk trusting IE 9 to emulate it 100% accurately.

    In addition to @Nick's point, I've also run into a couple of more significant JavaScript compatibility issues - in one case, code which worked on IE7 failed even in IE7 compatibility mode because the original code had a bug which IE didn't used to catch. The bottom line is that there's no substitute for testing the real target OS and browser version.

    @ChrisAdams: i would say the bottom line is that there's no way of testing for IE in all its webkilling flavours. :-)

    Painfully true but a stable of VMs is probably the sweet spot for testing vs. expense, particularly as Microsoft is finally being less neglectful in pushing the IE community forward.

    @MarcoDemaio This is a great guide/tutorial if you're setting up virtualpc for multiple IE testing and doing it on your own instead of downloading prepared vhd. It's also important to note that Microsoft will eventually expire the keys for those.

  • IE Tester It does IE6, 7, 8 & 9

    Except for some limitations that already make think it's not a reliable tester: 1. The Previous/Next buttons are not working properly; 2. Focus is not working properly; 3. does not return the newly created window but null.

    Interesting. I don't have those issues.

    @marco, I must be running an older version before those bugs were introduced. Lucky me. :) Still, the browsers themselves do work and will do what needs to be done.

    @marco I have always seen the note about Previous/Next buttons and I suppose under some conditions they may not work but they have always worked properly for me.

    I can only recommend to stay away from IETester - one of the worst tools I have ever used. Unstable, unreliable, javascript generally fails and even if it works the output should be taken with a pinch of salt.

  • Microsoft recently released their own tool for testing compatibility with the IEs. It's supposed to make that process easier. It's called

  • You can also use the browser shots website if you are testing layout. You put in the url and it returns images of your site in a bunch of different browsers.

    Sadly, it has not worked for IE for a while. You can choose it but it lists the servers as 'Unavailable' for IE in the status page. For IE only testing, Net Render does a simplistic but decent job:

    @Itai - maybe that was temporary. I just tried Browsershots and it showed me screenshots of my test page in IE 6, 7, 8. IE9 is not an available option there.

    @mvark - Damn! I tried today too and the IE factories were offline, I'll try again.

    @lovefaithswing: interesting, pity they are just screen shots. But i agree that for free is better than nothing.

  • Microsoft also released "Expression Web 4" which is for the purpose to compare different IE Versions. But you need to pay for it and you need a Windows XP SP3 or any later Win-version.

    Expression Web 3 is available to download for free, but only includes comparisons from IE6, IE7 to IE8. (lacking IE9)

    FYI: they now decided to give out (incredibly for free) some VMs to be used for testing purposes. See comments by Nick to my answer.

    They have done so since years, but those VMs have a usage duration, as far as I remember.

    actually they expalin in a NOTE on the same link to type `slmgr –rearm` at the command prompt to reset the images forever so that they basically never expire, even if you won't be able to save anything on those imasges, but for testing could suffice.

    Expression Web 4 is now available for free, but the Expression Web product is no longer being developed.

  • Crossbrowsertesting was a site I tried for a while. Pretty good, you get a fresh browser install on a virtual machine you access over VNC. Useful, particularly for more dynamic sites.

  • If you just want to check the design of your web pages on different IE browsers, try Browsershots or WebPageTest. WebPageTest is basically a free performance testing tool but if you select the "Visual Comparison" tab from their home page & submit a URL to test, the site generates expandable thumbnails of "above the fold" view of your web page and optionally a video of that webpage while it was loading. WebPagetest is an open source tool that you can install locally & run your own instance. WebPagetest lets you test in IE versions 6 to 9.

    If you want to manually test the navigation & features of your site and not just the design & layout, install the freely available Virtual PC images of IE 6, 7, 8 on your Win 7 PC. Tools like IETester may not be completely reliable.

  • I use VirtualBox to run copies of Windows XP with each browser installed on it. It's not 'ideal', but it works for me, and is very easy to set up and use. It is also likely the best reflection of what the browser is actually like on a particular OS.

  • Try

    You can install IE 5,6,7,8 side by side on a windows machine or virtualbox windows machine.

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM