Choosing your Internet browser is not a decision to be taken lightly, yet it is an issue that very few users give careful consideration to. It’s an ironic fact that while Mac and Windows users will argue over many aspects of their operating systems, they both typically agree that the two default browsers are useless. Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are frequently accused of being slow, unwieldy, and insecure, and these days most people who buy a new computer make a headlong dash to Google Chrome’s download page without further thought.
We’ve looked at the surprising benefits and features of Safari before – but what about Internet Explorer? Is it really that bad, or does it offer a viable alternative to Mac owners? Is it even possible to run the flagship Microsoft browser on an OSX machine? Read on to find out…
How to Install Internet Explorer on a Mac
Microsoft haven’t released an official Mac edition of Internet Explorer since version 5.2.3 in 2005, but that doesn’t mean you can’t install the latest IE release on your machine.
Whereas it’s possible to use various virtual environments and Boot Camp to get it running, the fastest and simplest way to do it is by using a program called WineBottler. Nonetheless, we’ll run through the two most common methods – WineBottler and VirtualBox.
Like Wine for Linux, the software enables you run a range of Windows-based programs on your Mac without worrying about the hassle of booting multiple operating systems or splashing out on an expensive Windows license.
You can grab the software from their website and install it in the usual way (making sure to move both the “Wine” and “WineBottler” files into your apps folder).
The program is actually very powerful and can be configured to read multiple prefixes and install a wide range of software. Luckily, Internet Explorer is one of the default offerings and you’ll be given an option to download it on the page that you see when you run WineBottler for the first time.
The latest available release is Internet Explorer 8. Select it and click on “Install”, then choose where you want to save it (typically the application folder) – WineBottler will take care of the rest.
Once the process has finished, just launch the newly installed app from wherever you chose to save it and you’re ready to go.
VirtualBox, which is developed by Oracle and free to use, lets you run various operating systems in a virtual environment on your Mac.
Firstly, you’ll need to download both the VirtualBox software and its extension pack. You can get them both from Softpedia. Install the software .dmg file first.
Once that’s done you’ll need to run the VirtualBox manager, then immediately close it again. This allows the system to log some necessary information. Next, open your Mac’s “Terminal” app (you’ll find it in the Utilites folder in either your Finder or Launchpad) and paste in the command which matches the version of Internet Explorer which you’d like to install:
Internet Explorer 11 Only – Windows 7 image
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="11" bash
Internet Explorer 10 Only
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="10" bash
Internet Explorer 9 Only
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="9" bash
Internet Explorer 8 Only – Windows XP, small Image
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="8" bash
Internet Explorer 7 Only Windows XP, small Image
curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="7" bash
It’s worth mentioning that people with older Macs should probably choose a version that uses Windows XP – although it’s old and unsupported it will suffice for small usage, and will be much less of a drain on your system’s resources.
That’s it – wait for the file to download (sometimes up to two hours), and run the virtual machine. You’ll be prompted to install the updates and turn on automatic updates, (neither of which are strictly necessary), then you’ll be presented with the Windows desktop along with the version of Internet Explorer than you selected from the list above.
Why Use Internet Explorer on a Mac?
It’s all well-and-good installing Internet Explorer on your Mac, but why should you? What benefits does it bring?
The most obvious benefit is to help synchronise your life between multiple machines. Whether or not you actually like Microsoft’s offering, there are a huge number of people who are forced to use Internet Explorer all day in their offices only to go home at night to their Macs with no way to continue their sessions or easily migrate their data. If you’re one of those people, having the same browser on all your frequently used machines could remove a huge headache.
Secondly, there is the issue of compatibility. Internet Explorer is the most used browser on the planet. Despite losing ground to Google Chrome in recent years, recent figures suggest that 48 percent of all devices which access the Internet do so by using the long-standing browser, and that figure jumps to 58 percent when you only consider desktop users.
It means there are many websites that were specifically designed with Internet Explorer as their main priority – certainly websites that were published pre-2010, the year the Chrome started its meteoric rise. It’s often the case that IE renders these older sites much more reliably than some of its competitors, and due to its ActiveX technology it’s also often simpler to use it with business-related sites such as Webex or HTML IT consoles like Kaseya.
Would You Convert to IE?
Would you consider making the switch to Internet Explorer? If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve already installed Microsoft’s browser on your Mac and you use it regularly? If you have, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Maybe you’re of the school of thought that whatever the benefits you won’t install it until Microsoft releases an official native version?
Whatever your situation we’d love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.