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

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    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. – Kjensen Apr 14 '11 at 10:42

16 Answers 16


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.

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    +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!! – jmort253 Mar 19 '11 at 2:53
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    indeed, confirmed: IE9 lets you emulate IE7, IE8, IE9 and IE9 compatibility mode. – Jeff Atwood Mar 22 '11 at 12:45
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    Is the emulation exactly the same, or could there be some small differences. – Saif Bechan Nov 20 '11 at 2:26
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    @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. – Marco Demaio Dec 22 '11 at 18:18
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    @MarcoDemaio There are definitely differences between IE 9's IE 7 mode and the real IE 7. I gave two examples here. – Nick Jul 10 '12 at 16:52

IE Tester It does IE6, 7, 8 & 9

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    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. windows.open does not return the newly created window but null. – Marco Demaio Mar 18 '11 at 17:38
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    Interesting. I don't have those issues. – John Conde Mar 18 '11 at 17:40
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    they are written here as well know issue: my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage – Marco Demaio Mar 18 '11 at 17:46
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    @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. – John Conde Mar 18 '11 at 17:49
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    @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. – joshuahedlund Aug 9 '12 at 21:05

Direct from Microsoft for just this purpose:

Internet Explorer Application Compatibility VPC Image


Microsoft recently released their own tool for testing compatibility with the IEs. It's supposed to make that process easier. It's called Modern.ie: http://www.modern.ie/


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.


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    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: ipinfo.info/netrenderer – Itai Mar 18 '11 at 18:18
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    @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 Mar 19 '11 at 1:35
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    @mvark - Damn! I tried today too and the IE factories were offline, I'll try again. – Itai Mar 19 '11 at 2:02
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    @lovefaithswing: interesting, pity they are just screen shots. But i agree that for free is better than nothing. – Marco Demaio Feb 27 '12 at 12:10

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)

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    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. – Marco Demaio Jul 13 '12 at 17:35
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    They have done so since years, but those VMs have a usage duration, as far as I remember. – feeela Jul 15 '12 at 12:50
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    actually they expalin in a NOTE on the same link microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=11575 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. – Marco Demaio Jul 16 '12 at 14:34
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    Expression Web 4 is now available for free, but the Expression Web product is no longer being developed. – Jacob Hume Dec 27 '12 at 15:20

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.




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


If you're alright with simply a visual check, you can use Adobe's BrowserLab. It's part of the CS Live suite of online services offered by Adobe. Right now you can get 12 months free membership of CS Live, so in the short term it's a good free solution. You can run tests on multiple browser/OS combinations simultaneously and see the rendering differences by comparing them side-by-side.

However, it's always best to have actual test machines (or VMs), as Browserlab can't tell you if the JavaScript is broken or help you debug CSS or markup errors. It will only tell you that the layout isn't rendering properly in a particular platform. But it's nice to be able to type in a URL an get full-size screenshots of the webpage on most major OS/browser combinations in an instant.


There is Browserling which allows testing IE 5-9 and different versions of other major browsers as well, and all that from a browser of your choice!

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    They don't seem very reliable, their site shows up all wrong on IE7 and IE8. I mean if they are not the 1st ones to test their site cross-browser, I'm wondering how can I trust their cross-browser testing tool. – Marco Demaio Feb 27 '12 at 12:05

I'm using the spoon.net browser sandbox - http://spoon.net/Browsers.

It lets you run IE6-9 on your computer without having to install them. They also have the browser console and work with the IE developer toolbar, which helps with css/javascript debugging.

  • Paying for all older browser versions. – K.C. Dec 21 '15 at 12:16

There is no substitute to native, hard boxes running the platforms you want. No IE-testing suite is completely accurate, and several will raise errors which don't appear in production (wasting your time on false positives). Virtual machines aren't as reliable as people think - I've seen several VM-specific bugs whilst trying to run IE6 (I think IE6's rendering engine relies on the coordination of certain threads, which VMs can't quite manage properly).

If IE6/7 functionality matters to your organization, I think you can easily make a case for spending a marginal amount on two cheapo WinXP boxes. IETester is slow as molasses and crashes at the drop of a hat, and IE's 'compatibility mode' - whilst handy for a first pass - just isn't up to the muster if your customers really depend on your software working on their legacy boxes.

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    the problem it's not buying WinXP machines, but the time consumed to test on hard boxes, I would need to phisically move my butt from one PC to another, that's definitely to much of hard work for a programmer. I hardly ever rise my arms on top of the keyboard for moore than 15 degrees. :-) – Marco Demaio Jul 13 '12 at 17:33
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    @MarcoDemaio - why not use remote sessions? – Jimmy Breck-McKye Jul 13 '12 at 21:19

Microsoft provides, freely and without registration, virtual machines for:

  • IE8 on Win7
  • IE9 on Win7
  • IE10 on Win7
  • IE11 on Win7
  • IE11 on Win81
  • Edge on Win10

For the following platform:

  • VirtualBox
  • Vagrant
  • HyperV
  • VPC
  • VMware
  • Parallels

i have searched a lot for the solution, the best i found is using firefox 8.0 with IE tab plugin, in this cas you can test your website over IE6, IE7, IE8, IE9. I hope it will help

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