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What is a User Agent String or a Browser String? And How Do I Find Mine?

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Smartmom's picture
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What is a User Agent string, also known as your Browser string? Well it's basically your computer's information as far as what software you are running. It just gives the basics as to which OS (operating system) you are running, your basic security (if you have any) and which internet browser you are using. It also may tell if some other applications are installed, like the Microsoft.NET framework and the version you have installed.

Sometimes 3rd party programs will also inject some sort of tag in it to show that you are running their software as well. The Google Toolbar adds a small "GTB6" tag for example.

Why does your browser give away this information? Some websites may make use of it to help them show you certain pages optimized for your particular setup, is one example. In general, it is used by websites simply to enhance the user experience in one way or another. It can be used to help identify you, but generally not without some sort of other useful information, such as your IP address, since thousands, or hundreds of thousands of users may have the same exact User Agent string as you do.

How do you find your User Agent String? Go to IPCHICKEN

Here is a great site that will help you read user agent strings: CLICK

Here are some examples:

My main computer at home:
On ipchicken it will be the last line where it starts off as Browser. ipchicken reads mine as:
Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv:1.9.1.7) Gecko/20091221 Firefox/3.5.7

User Agent String explained:

Firefox 3.5.7
Mozilla It's a Mozilla based browser
5.0 Mozilla Version
Windows Platform
U Security values:

  • N for no security
  • U for strong security
  • I for weak security
Windows NT 6.1 Operating System:
Windows 7
en-US Language Tag, indicates the language for which the client had been localized (e.g. menus and buttons in the user interface)
en-US = English - United States
rv:1.9.1.7 CVS Branch Tag
The version of Gecko being used in the browser
Gecko Gecko engine inside
20091221 Build Date:
the date the browser was built
Firefox Name:
Firefox
3.5.7 Version

Here is what it shows from my iPod touch (it would look almost the same from a iphone)

When I go to ipchicken it shows: Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_1_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7D11 Safari/528.16

User Agent String explained:

Safari 4.0
Mozilla It's a Mozilla based browser
5.0 Mozilla Version
iPod Apple iPod
U Security values:

  • N for no security
  • U for strong security
  • I for weak security
CPU iPhone OS 3_1_2 like Mac OS X Operating System:
iPhone OS
Version 3_1_2
Based on Mac OS X
en-us Language Tag, indicates the language for which the client had been localized (e.g. menus and buttons in the user interface)
en-us = English - United States
AppleWebKit The Web Kit provides a set of core classes to display web content in windows
528.18 Web Kit build
KHTML KHTML
like Gecko like Gecko
Version Safari Version
4.0 Version
Mobile Mobile Device
7D11 iPhone Firmware Version
Safari Name :
Safari
528.16 Browser build

Here is my archos media table:
Browser: Opera/9.02 (Linux armv 7l; U; ARCHOS; GOGl; mobile; G6H; Version 1.0.87 (WMDRMPD: 10.1); en)

User Agent String explained:

Opera 9.02
Opera Name:
Opera
9.02 Browser version -> old version, for compatiblity reasons only. See Version below
Linux armv 7l Operating System:
Linux
U Security values:

  • N for no security
  • U for strong security
  • I for weak security
ARCHOS ???
GOGl ???
mobile ???
G6H ???
Version 1.0.87 ???
WMDRMPD: 10.1 ???
en Language Tag, indicates the language for which the client had been localized (e.g. menus and buttons in the user interface)
en = English

Trackers and websites use useragent strings to help identify the person. You can go to a proxy site but in the end your user string will stay the same. There is an extension for Firefox to change your UserAgent string on the fly named UserAgent Switcher.

There are many lists on the internet where you can find some UserAgent Strings to add to the list of UserAgents to switch between. For example, here.

Some fun tricks can be done when playing with UserAgent Strings. Want to see how a website might look strictly to a GoogleBot? Some websites optimize their pages to show only a certain page if it detects a GoogleBot, just copy the GoogleBot user agent string to your UserAgent Switcher and select it, then load the page.

There have also been some tricks to bypass password protected sites or pages by masquerading as a search engine crawler by using a search engine's UserAgent String, although in general, this isn't usually likely to happen.

Know of any other cool tricks by fiddling with UserAgent Strings? Let us know in a comment! Smile

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Smartmom's picture
From:
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Smartmom
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?

Ok I found this site very interesting - you can test your internet fingerprint:

Is your browser configuration rare or unique ? If so, web sites may be able to track you, even if you limit or disable cookies. Panopticlick tests your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits. CLICK TO TEST YOURSELF

So I tested myself and here is what it showed:

Browser Characteristic bits of identifying information one in x browsers have this value value
User Agent
5.74
53.33
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv:1.9.1.7) Gecko/20091221 Firefox/3.5.7
HTTP_ACCEPT Headers
1.92
3.79
text/html, */* ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7 gzip,deflate en-us,en;q=0.5
Browser Plugin Details
18.84+
469143
{Moderator Edit: She just listed a ish-ton of her browser plugins here. Removed for ease of reading}
Time Zone
2.49
5.63
300
Screen Size and Color Depth
3.85
14.45
1680x1050x32
System Fonts
18.84+
469143
{Moderator Edit: She just listed a ish-ton of her system fonts here. Removed for ease of reading}
Are Cookies Enabled?
0.28
1.21
Yes
Limited supercookie test
1.14
2.2
DOM localStorage: Yes, DOM sessionStorage: Yes, IE userData: No
Gunslinger's picture
Gunslinger
Premium Member (Silver)I use FirefoxI use Internet ExplorerWindows UserI donated more than $20+ to GeekDrop!I took a bite of the AppleThe Dr. put the stem on the apple!
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?

This is so far over my head. What is a archos and what is a googlebot? SM posting your information like that do you put yourself in any security risk?

Smartmom's picture
From:
Wellington Florida
Smartmom
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?

My archos is a media player - its a little mini computer tablet (touch screen). Here is a picture of it sitting on my laptop infront of my monitors

{Moderator Edit: Deleted. No one cares.}

I use it mainly in my car or traveling on a plane. I can surf the web on it but I am in linux (which is fine). I will admit that the main purpose is to watch movies on it. When ever I'm on a plane with it I always get stopped and asked "What is that"its about the same size of a notebook external hard drive.

Googlebots come along sites on a daily basis and scan the info for searching. Googlebots index pages for their seach. Nope my security is fine. I didn't post my IP but that is ok too if it gets out.

Niebr's picture
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Niebr
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?

i went to one site and tested my fone and got this, name address: ord-69-171-163-108.evdo.leapwireless.net remote port: 50103 browser: sam-r460UP.Browser/6.2.3.8 (GUI) MMp/2.0 next ima hit the other site with my fone and see what that does, ...............i dont think it can test my phones browser, its been sayign please wait for a while now,

Smartmom's picture
From:
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Smartmom
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?
unknown
sam-r460UP.Browser ???
6.2.3.8 ???
GUI ???
MMp ???
2.0 ???

Yeah it had no clue. OK now to test my phone Laughing

Smartmom's picture
From:
Wellington Florida
Smartmom
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?

ok here is my blackberry:

  • Name Address: rdns.blackberry.net
  • Remote Port: 42651
  • Browser: BlackBerry8350i/4.6.1.313 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/103

User Agent String explained :

unknown
BlackBerry8350i ???
4.6.1.313 ???
Profile ???
MIDP-2.0 ???
Configuration ???
CLDC-1.1 ???
VendorID ???
103 ???

I did run the IP though MaxMind and got this:

Hostname Country Code Country Name Region Region Name City Postal Code Latitude Longitude ISP Organization Metro Code Area Code
IP HERE US United States TX Texas Houston 77002 29.7523 -95.3670 THEPLANET.COM INTERNET SERVICES THEPLANET.COM INTERNET SERVICES 618 713
Niebr's picture
From:
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Niebr
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Re: What is a User Agent String or a Browser String?
smartmom wrote:

Yeah it had no clue. OK now to test my phone Laughing

hmmm that gives me a couple ideas! ROFL,

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