How To Load the Desktop Version Of Websites On Your Google Android Honeycomb Tablet

Tina Sieber 08-09-2011

tablet web browsingTablets are great devices for reading and browsing websites. Using the touchpad is intuitive and convenient, and tablet screens don’t present the size limitations of mobile phones. However, with tablet web browsing, you will notice that many websites automatically load their mobile version. This is because the browser you are using identifies itself as a mobile based application to the websites you are visiting.


Being restricted to the mobile version of a website can be annoying since they often lack features offered by their desktop version. If you would prefer to view the desktop version of websites on your Google Android Honeycomb tablet, you will be delighted to hear that there are two simple ways to achieve this. Read on to find out how you can toggle between the desktop and mobile versions on your Honeycomb tablet.

Change The Honeycomb Browser User Agent Setting

The Honeycomb browser’s user agent is set to ‘Android’, which most websites interpret as ‘smartphone’, thus displaying the compact version of their website. To change this, you need to change the respective user agent string.

  • Open the native browser on your Android Honeycomb tablet.
  • Type about:debug in the address / URL bar and press Enter.
  • Don’t expect anything to happen; it will probably look like nothing happened.
  • Next, open the browser’s settings via the icon in the top right corner.

tablet web browsing

  • Select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  • Switch to the Debug tab via the left-hand menu.
  • On the right side now select UAString.
  • Select Desktop.

change user string setting

  • Click the Back button in the bottom left corner of the browser to exit settings.
  • Repeat step 2 to exit debugging mode.

Note that the setting may be reset every time you reboot your device.


Interestingly, the browser on Android-based smartphones has a different user agent setting, which reads ‘Android Mobile’. This actually allows websites to differentiate between tablets and smartphones. Unfortunately, not all websites support the two different settings and surprisingly, this includes Google Mail.

Use A Different Browser

You may find that some mobile websites are actually more convenient than their desktop counterparts. In this case you probably don’t want to change the user agent setting since switching back and forth between different settings is quite a hassle. The alternative solution is to use a different browser which allows you to toggle easily between the desktop and mobile version of a website.

A browser I highly recommend is Dolphin Browser HD. To rapidly switch between the mobile and desktop versions of a website, you also need to install the Dolphin Desktop Toggle add-on. Once installed, you will find a toggle button in the right-hand menu of the browser. The right-hand menu opens when you attempt to slide the browser window to the left. Pressing the toggle button will load the respective other version of the website, if available.

tablet web browsing


Are you still undecided which tablet to get? There are at least 5 Things To Consider Before Buying A Tablet PC 5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Tablet PC Read More . Maybe you would like to Try Google’s Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD Try Google's Android Mobile OS on Your Computer with Live CD Read More ? And if you have made up your mind about getting an Android Tablet, be sure to review The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out While the iPad was able to jump on the tablet market before anyone else, Android tablets from competitors are starting to flow like water. There’s now a wide variety of options available and many of... Read More .

If you already own an Android device, have a look at these resources:

Why did you get yourself an Android Tablet or why do you think you need one?

Image credits: Palto


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  2. jwn819
    September 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Does this work on tablets also?

    • Tina
      September 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Yes, as the title suggests. I tested it on a Honeycomb Tablet.

  3. Anonymous
    September 9, 2011 at 5:04 am

    it works on all android phones and versions.. I use it sometimes on my X8  :)

    • Tina
      September 9, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks for the input, Suhel!

      I didn't want to jump the gun and claim it works everywhere because I could only test it on a tablet.

      • Anonymous
        September 10, 2011 at 2:57 am

        its like say default windows command (like msconfig) they work on all versions be it XP, Vista or 7. about:debug is a default operation for all browsers working on android os be it Eclair, Froyo or Honeycomb :)