How to: Get a Desktop Browser Experience on a Tablet

One thing some users of Android tablets get frustrated about is the default “mobile view” when browsing the internet. Some people erroneously believe that iOS provides the better browsing experience.

Although most major companies have mobile apps, I often prefer the “desktop experience” to a mobile app, or even a mobile site. Well luckily, the desktop experience is only a click away.

First though, a quick explanation of why your mobile experience is different than your desktop experience, which will help clarify or simplify the issues.

Unlike desktops, which tell the website, “I have a gigantic screen attached to this system, so give me the biggest and best viewing experience”, tablets and smartphones say, “I’m a little guy without the room.” The website, being “great and powerful,” interprets the viewing experience accordingly. Note though, this issue arises when you have a website that is “mobile optimized,” meaning it’s being directed to a mobile subdomain, such as mobile.google.com; or a mobile page, such as google.com/mobile. You can check out an example from The Droid Lawyer site of mobile optimized versus full.

If you’re like me, though you can use the mobile version, you prefer to use the desktop version, even if this means zooming to increase the viewing.

The good news is that bringing the desktop experience to your tablet isn’t difficult, you just need to click an additional button or change a setting. Here’s a quick rundown using my two favorite browsers, Chrome (available for Android 4.0+) and Dolphin Browser HD. Other Android browsers have similar features.

In Chrome, you simply click the box “Request desktop site” from the menu bar.

A piece of troubleshooting advice: if you still get the mobile version of the site after checking the box, be sure to verify that the browser moved out of the mobile subdomain.

If not, even though you’re “going rogue,” the browser might still be heading to it’s original destination. This is a slight annoyance with the Chrome browser. Just retype or delete the URL. You may need to follow this procedure for every visit to the website.

On the other hand, you can adjust Dolphin’s settings to retrieve sites like your desktop, and they’ll stick. To change Dolphin into a mini-browsing machine, click Menu > More > Settings > User Agent.

Dolphin presents a list of available browser agents from the default Android to a custom experience (whatever that means). Once you click your preferred experience, you’ll (almost) never browse to a mobile site again.

So, now you can skip clicking “show me the desktop view” on these sites, and skip straight to the full action.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.