Google unsupported browser error Fixed!

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:56 -- rhelwig

For several weeks now I've been getting error messages on all the Google sites I use. They all seem to have some problem with my browser being "unsupported". I know this is bullshit, because 1) they say my browser is supported in their documentation, and 2) it worked before - same browser.


So, for several weeks I've been manually adding "browserok=true" to Google URLs. I even tried clearing cookies and cached data, like their help suggests, all to no avail. Finally today I did a more exhaustive search, and came upon a solution for my FireFox browser. Apparently it has been giving the wrong 'user agent' string out to web servers.

To fix this, I

  1. Opened a new tab
  2. Entered "about:config" as the URL/Address
  3. Clicked on the button asking if I knew what I was doing
  4. Entered "general.useragent" in the Filter box at the top of the page - this limited the list to about 5 items
  5. Right clicked on the bold ones and selected "Reset"

Once I did that, everything works again!


In hindsight, it certainly makes sense. The 'useragent' stuff gets sent to web servers when you first request a page, so the server can decide how the content it will send you will be formatted. This is how a PDA or cell phone can go to the same URL/Address as a desktop browser, yet display the page differently - the useragent gives the server enough info to know how big the screen is. So by resetting the useragent back to its default, it is now sending the correct info to the servers.


Of course, it would be good to know how it got messed up in the first place, so I can prevent it from happening again. However, I'll bet this will be one mystery that never gets solved - the important thing is that is is fixed!

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