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Review Of Cross-Browser Testing Tools

At some point in the future, the way that all major browsers render Web code will likely be standardized, which will make testing across multiple browsers no longer necessary as long as the website is coded according to Web standards. But because that day is still a way off (if it will really come at all), testing your design the advanced browsers as well as legacy browsers is a necessary part of any project.

The old-school way to test code was to load your website on as many computers as you could find, using as many different combinations of browsers and operating systems as possible. That was fine if you had access to a bunch of different computers (and had some time to kill). But there are much more efficient ways to test across browsers, using either free or commercial Web services and software. In this article we review some of the most useful ones.

Free Cross-Browser Testing Link

Good news: very powerful free testing tools are available for Web designers today. Some are more user-friendly than others, and some have significantly better user interfaces. Don’t expect much (if any) support with these tools. But if you’d rather not spend extra money on testing, some great options are here as well.

Adobe BrowserLab Link

Adobe BrowserLab is a free cross-browser compatibility tool that lets you test a number of modern and legacy browsers, including various versions of Chrome, Safari, IE and Firefox. It gives you a number of ways to view pages, including a full-page view in a single browser, as well as side-by-side comparisons of browsers and an onion skin view. The service can access dynamic pages across the web, or viewed locally via Firebug or Adobe Dreamweaver CS5. The ability to create pre-defined browser sets is also useful, in case you don’t need to test on older browsers.

Browsershots Link

Browsershots231 is probably the most comprehensive free testing tool available. It includes Linux, Windows and BSD browsers. It also includes a number of browsers you’ve probably never heard of (like Galeon, Iceape, Kazehakase and Epiphany). For the most part, Browsershots tests on the most recent version of each browser, as well as on legacy versions.

While Browsershots does support a huge variety of browsers, the more you test, the more slowly it prepares the results. So, you may want to stick to the major browsers.


SuperPreview (Free and Commercial) Link

SuperPreview243 is Microsoft’s offering in this space (and it’s compatible only with Windows). It lets you define your own “baseline” (or default) browser, and it works with any browser installed on your system (and comes with the IE6 rendering engine built in). The fact that it only works with your built-in browsers does make it faster (because you’re not uploading anything or waiting for a remote server), but it also limits the number of browsers you can compare.

SuperPreview trial comes with 60 days of cloud services before you have to either buy it or go into reduced, (local browsers and IE 6-9 mode). In an online version, you have support for Chrome, Safari (Mac) 4+5, Firefox 3+4. You can also use an interactive mode to log into sites that require a login before displaying the page you want to test. There are also debugging tools for the DOM and onion skinning available in Adobe Browserlabs. Unfortunately, there is no support for Opera whether installed locally or in the cloud and you do have to have the version included with Expression Web to get the cloud services option but the base version with support for IE 6, IE 7, IE 8 (and IE 8 rendering as IE 7) are included with the free version as well as IE 9 if it is installed locally. (Thanks, Cheryl D Wise)


Lunascape 6 Link

Lunascape255 is a triple-engine browser for Windows. It runs Trident (IE), Gecko (Firefox) and Webkit (Chrome and Safari), so that you can see how your website looks in all three, side by side. While it’s not a traditional browser compatibility tester, it is nonetheless a useful tool for designers and developers. One major benefit is that you get to view your website instantly in all three major rendering engines. There’s also support for Firefox extensions and plug-ins, so you can use developer tools like Firebug to diagnose compatibility problems.


IETester Link

IETester267 is a free (both for personal and professional usage) browser for Windows that allows you to have the rendering and JavaScript engines of IE10 preview, IE9, IE8, IE7, IE6 and IE5.5 on Windows 7, Vista and XP, as well as the installed IE. Only an alpha version of the tool is available. Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP with IE7 minimum are required for the tool to run.


IE NetRenderer Link

IE NetRenderer279 lets you check compatibility in Internet Explorer versions 5.5 through 9. You’ll have to check each version individually, but the service is free.


Spoon Link

Spoon2811 is an application emulation service. It provides free versions of Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari for Windows users. A number of versions of each browser are included: Firefox 2–5, Chrome 4–8, Safari 3–5 and Opera 9–10. Bad news: Internet Explorer is supported by Spoon virtualization but is not available by request of Microsoft.


Sauce Labs (free and commercial) Link

Sauce Labs2913 provides a lot of browser and OS options and sets you up with a browser dedicated VM instance that you operate inside the browser of your choice. It also records a video of your entire testing session. The service offers 200 free minutes of testing per month and allows you to quickly build automated tests from your browser with Selenium.


Browsera (free and commercial) Link

Browsera3015 provides automated compatibility testing. It automatically highlights differences in the way browsers render your design, thus simplifying the testing process. It also detects JavaScript errors, and the commercial version can test pages behind subscription or log-in walls. It can also test dynamic pages.

The free plan includes a limited number of browsers and low-resolution screenshots. Premium plans start at $39 for a single project and $49 to $99 for monthly subscriptions, and they support more browsers, provide high-resolution screenshots and let you test private pages.


Browserling (free and commercial) Link

Browserling3117 is a relatively new cross-browser testing app. It supports a limited number of browsers (and not necessarily the newest versions), which makes it of limited use to some developers. It’s still in beta, though, so hopefully more browsers will be supported in the near future.

The free version comes with a five-minute session limit, and the developer version is $20 per month with no time limit.


Commercial Cross-Browser Testing Link

Commercial tools often have features not found in the free ones, including live interactive browser virtualization and mobile device testing.

Mogotest Link

Mogotest does complete browser-compatibility testing, including for private pages. There’s an API, so it can be integrated in your current tools and workflow. Mogotest also offers a website health report that tells you about broken links and pages, redirect loops and other issues common to new websites. The service also offer screenshot comparison tools for testing screenshots against each other as well as site-level testing including page consistency testing and individual page tests. HTTP basic and cookie-based login systems are supported as well.

There are two plans for individuals: a personal plan starting at $15 per month that lets you test up to 50 pages on three websites, and a freelancer plan for $45 per month that includes up to 10 websites and 350 pages. The team plans start at $125 per month and go up to $4499+ for unlimited access. The two highest-cost plans include custom reports.

Cloud Testing Link

Cloud Testing offers functional cross-browser testing. You record the user journey with your browser and Selenium IDE, upload it, and then Cloud Testing will run that script in multiple operating systems and browsers. It then provides screenshots and HTML and component diagnostics. No prices are listed on its website.

BrowserCam Link

BrowserCam includes testing tools for both desktop and mobile browser compatibility (the latter is still absent in many other tools). It also offers remote access for live testing on Windows, Linux and OS X configurations, and email capture for checking your HTML, RTF and TXT emails.

Pricing for BrowserCam starts at only $19.95 per day for a single service (and $24.95 for the browser, remote access and email capture package), up to an annual subscription price of $399.95 for a single service (and $499.95 for browser capture, remote access, email capture and multi-user access, or $999.95 for all of those features plus device capture).

Multi-Browser Viewer Link

Multi-Browser Viewer3219 covers both desktop and mobile browsers. It includes 26 virtualized Web browsers, 5 mobile browsers (including the iPhone and iPad) and 61 screenshot browsers (meaning you can see how the website renders but not interact with it). It’s also available in five languages: English, Spanish, German, Russian and French.

Multi-Browser Viewer is $139.95 for a single-user license and includes a year of product usage and updates. Updates after the first year are currently $99.95. A free trial is available through the website.


CrossBrowserTesting Link

CrossBrowserTesting3321 provides live interactive browser testing with remote VNC sessions. It also generates automated screenshots across multiple browsers for more basic testing. There are more than 100 browser and operating system combinations, including many mobile platforms.

Monthly subscriptions range from $29.95 to $199.95, depending on the number of users and the minutes of testing (minutes can roll over to the next month, but they’re not unlimited). A one-week free trial is available for all plans.


Testing Services Compared Link

The chart below shows the basic features offered by these cross-browser testing services and applications, making it quick and easy to compare.

Tool Number of browser versions supported IE? Interactive testing? Side-by-side testing? Pricing
Adobe BrowserLab 13 IE6+ No Yes Free
Browsershots231 60+ IE6+ No No Free
SuperPreview243 Varies IE6+ Yes Yes Free
Lunascape255 3 IE6+ Yes Yes Free
IETester267 6 versions of IE IE5.5+ Yes Yes Free
IE NetRenderer279 5 versions of IE IE5.5+ No No Free
Spoon2811 16+ no IE Yes No Free
Sauce Labs2913 40+ IE6+ Yes No Free — $499 per month
Browsera3015 9 IE6+ No Yes Free – $99/month
Browserling3117 9 IE5.5+ No No Free – $20/month
Mogotest 7+ IE6+ No Yes $15 – $4,499/month
Cloud Testing 4+ IE6+ Yes Yes Not specified
BrowserCam 90+ IE5.2+ Yes Yes $19.95 – $89.95/month
Multi-Browser Viewer3219 80+ IE6+ For some browsers Yes $139.95
CrossBrowserTesting3321 100+ IE6+ Yes Yes $29.95 – $199.95/month

Conclusion Link

Regardless of the tool you choose, testing early and often during the Web development process can save you from a lot of headaches later. Find a tool that fits your workflow (so that you’ll actually want to use it and it won’t be a hassle), and test whenever you make major changes to a design.

What tools do you use for cross-browser testing? Link

How has your experience been with cross-browser testing tools and services? Which ones do you use? How do you integrate cross-browser testing in your professional workflow? Let us know in the comments!

You might be interested in the following related articles:


Footnotes Link

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1

    I hardly used IETester for a longtime but since 3 month I work with Browserlab and SuperView.

    I know Lunascape since a long time but I’ve never thought use it for Browser testing…

  2. 2

    I use BrowserBox, a virtual machine that runs in VirtualBox, VMWare, or straight off a live boot CD. It has 20 versions of 12 different browsers (including several mobile browsers). The main drawback is the lack of IE8 and IE9, you’ll need a separate virtual machine for those, or run it in your normal installation if you use Windows. P.S. I am the creator of BrowserBox :)

  3. 3


    August 7, 2011 6:35 am

    SuperPreview ist not free. its a trial version.

    • 4

      Vitaly Friedman

      August 7, 2011 6:41 am

      From the release page (

      “The final “shipping” version of SuperPreview will continue to be available for free.”

      Also, according to the comment left by Cheryl D Wise,

      “SuperPreview with cloud services has been shipping with Expression Web since version 3 and the current version is 4. In the cloud you have support for Chrome, Safari (Mac) 4 & 5, Firefox 3 & 4. You can also use interactive mode to log into sites that require a login before displaying the page you want to test. There are also debugging tools for the DOM and the same sort of 2 up, onion skinning available in Adobe Browserlabs.

      Unfortunately there is no support for Opera whether installed locally or in the cloud and you do have to have the version included with Expression Web to get the cloud services option but the base version with support for IE 6, IE 7, IE 8 (and IE 8 rendering as IE 7) are included with the free version as well as IE 9 if it is installed locally.”

  4. 6

    Interesting overview. For testing IEs I like IETester with Debugbar.

  5. 7

    David Ridilla

    August 7, 2011 6:41 am

    Yeah I personally love IETester, was surprised to see it not featured here.

    • 8

      Connor Crosby

      August 7, 2011 6:42 am

      Yes, that’s a good one! Very helpful.

    • 9

      Vitaly Friedman

      August 7, 2011 6:52 am

      Thanks for the heads up! The tool was added to the article.

      • 10

        Nick Williams

        August 9, 2011 7:20 am

        In my experience with IETester it isn’t always reliable/accurate in it’s portrayal of older browsers, since it is purely emulation (or at least when i last used it, it was). When you 100% need support for IE6+ this will not do as you cannot put faith in the results it shows.

  6. 11

    Connor Crosby

    August 7, 2011 6:41 am

    Nothing like using the real browsers. Although, since I’m on a Mac it’s a little hard to test IE, so I use IE NetRenderer.

    • 12

      VM is your best friend

    • 13

      If you are on a mac try the software called Crossover. It’s a port of the WINE project that allows you to install windows programs on to your mac os without installing a virtual machine such as parallels. This allows me to stall multiple instances of ie without having to install all the different versions of Windows. I use to be a parallels customer but it seems silly to me to have a 7 gig Windows image on my mac just so I could use ie 6.

      • 14

        William Johnson

        August 7, 2011 3:32 pm

        I’m not sure WINE would give you an accurate picture, since it probably uses Mac fonts, font rendering routines, and other Mac system resources in conjunction with Windows application-level emulation. (I’m just guessing.) For example, the same page might look very different in Mac Firefox and Windows Firefox (same version number) just because the lines of type wrap differently, the headlines have different weights, etc. That’s why I use VMware. If I’m wrong about how WINE works (and I may be), I’d be interested to hear.

        • 15

          I’m not sure about the technical details, but I did find that the version of IE that runs in crossover did not respond to conditional comments properly (or so it seemed). I’ve not had this issue with a virtual XP machine running IE6.

  7. 16

    Dan Marfield

    August 7, 2011 6:58 am

    Very helpful article. One thing I’ve always wondered about is if there’s a tool to compare how emails look across different email platforms (Outlook 2003 vs. Outlook 2007 vs. Gmail vs. Hotmail, etc.). I’ve been using this cheat sheet, but sometimes it’s nice to see actually see your work.

    • 17

      The cheat sheet is great when you’re building your email but for testing Campaign Monitor has a testing tool for about $5 that shows you screenshots of your campaign across about 20-30 email clients ranging from Outlook and Gmail to mobile devices. It’s really useful and worth using every time you send a campaign.

    • 18

      I use a tool called E-mail on Acid ( It gives you previews of your e-mail in dozens of e-mail clients, including mobile ones like Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, etc. It’s not free, but it’s an excellent tool.

    • 19

      For Email testing i use Service. Its unfortunately not free.
      But for buisness, it is a good tool.

      • 20

        I use LitmusApp for email as well.

        It’s basically BrowserShots, but for email. Works well.


    • 21

      Try Litmus, it can test your email campaigns in numerous email readers (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail etc) and also run spam tests and read analytics:

    • 22

      You might want to try Limitus. Works for me :)

      • 23

        The trouble with Litmus is they seem to only be focussing on email testing now.

        They used to be fantastic for web page testing, but they’ve stopped adding new browsers – the most recent version of Firefox is 3.6!

        • 24

          I use Litmus for all of our email testing and web testing. While it’s true that they lag behind in giving the web page tests (vs the emails which have many more options), it’s great to have all of those testing in one system/app that we use for all cross-browser testing. All major browser versions and platforms are in place now as of 9/3/2013 so they’re quite up to date at the moment.

    • 25

      CM actually has great real design testing. Haven’t you used it yet?

  8. 26

    All these are wonderful solutions…. if your only testing small local over the web sites. But what about if your testing large portal or web application sites in a production / dev environment.

    When it comes down to it, in my opinion, the only 100% true way to cross browser test is to create a different instance of each browser.

    I am a mac user. and on my mac I have 4 different VM’s to test IE 6, 7, 8, 9. (i use VMWare Fusion). Also, on the IE9 VM, I’ve also installed FF, and Chrome so to test those in windows.

    This issue has been a constant since the day I started in web design/dev and it seems this solution is 100% bulletproof. And, much better than totting around 5 laptops or desktops!

    Hope this helps someone as well.

    • 27

      Cheryl D Wise

      August 7, 2011 7:41 am

      Windows users can’t legally, even in a VM install any Mac OS on their systems. Sure there are “solutions” like Hackintosh but that isn’t one that can be used without breaking the Apple EULA. I develop on Windows but do have a Macbook for testing Mac browsers but for quick on testing and debugging the tools mentioned like Adobe BrowserLabs and SuperPreview are superior to firing up a VM instance (I use Parallels on my Mac and native VM functions on Windows) but for deep function testing using an installed browser is the best way to test. Using a combination of tools suits me better than relying on any single method.

    • 28

      I’m a professional frontend engineer and I agree with Lance’s setup. Nothing beats testing with virtual machines (vm). I develop on a mac using Parallels and four vm images:
      1) Windows XP with IE6,
      2) Windows XP with IE7,
      3) Windows XP with IE8 and
      4) Windows 7 with IE9.

      I also have various versions of Chrome and Firefox installed on all vms. Testing works well, but you need plenty of RAM and preferably a solid state drive if you want to have all vms open at the same time. It’s important to test often and being aware of crossbrowser issues during development. It helps to know about the different doctypes, box-modell issues and javascript versions. Keeping things simple will reduce the testing.

      Testing takes time and it needs to be done.

      • 29

        Jon MacKinnon

        August 8, 2011 3:53 am

        I run the same setup on my mac, 4 VM’s using VirtualBox. 3 running superlight versions of XP and one running Win 7. I also have another VM with IE6/7/8 which I installed using Multiple IE. It’s great for layout checking but there are a few bugs with regards to form fields and such which is where the separate VM’s come into play.

      • 30

        Kevin Menard

        August 8, 2011 6:56 am

        While I don’t think anything can truly replace manually testing in a browser, I found when you have a lot of pages to test, rarely do they all get tested on each iteration. That was a big part of the rationale behind building Mogotest (I’m one of the founders). If 90% of the time the pages come out looking the same, then you really only need to manually inspect that other 10%. So, we’ve automated that detection. Just punch in some URLs, start the test, and within a few minutes you’ll have a list of any cross-browser render issues, with a CSS selector to help you fix them.

        The other half is regressions. I’ve found a lot of time a dev will test the page that was recently modified without testing all the other pages that link to the shared CSS or JavaScript file. To this end, we’re rolling out a regression testing feature in Mogotest later this week. Again, it’ll automate much of the error detection process for you, but you’ll still need the VMs handy to dig in and fix any problems.

  9. 31

    Cheryl D Wise

    August 7, 2011 7:24 am

    Your SuperPreview information is considerably out of date. SuperPreview with cloud services has been shipping with Expression Web since version 3 and the current version is 4.

    In the cloud you have support for Chrome, Safari (Mac) 4 & 5, Firefox 3 & 4. You can also use interactive mode to log into sites that require a login before displaying the page you want to test. There are also debugging tools for the DOM and the same sort of 2 up, onion skinning available in Adobe Browserlabs.

    Unfortunately there is no support for Opera whether installed locally or in the cloud and you do have to have the version included with Expression Web to get the cloud services option but the base version with support for IE 6, IE 7, IE 8 (and IE 8 rendering as IE 7) are included with the free version as well as IE 9 if it is installed locally.

  10. 32

    Paul de Wouters

    August 7, 2011 7:28 am

    you didn’t mention Windows XP mode and the different Virtual PC images that can be downloaded from Microsoft. That with a Virtualbox running linux, and it’s even possible to run MAC OS X on a Virtualbox.

  11. 33

    Litmus app is nice as well, plus it’s great for HTML email testing as well.

  12. 34

    Spoon is the best solution for local testing by far. And you can easily find the missing IE images in any torrent Site.

  13. 35

    Nice article!
    A request – can you write an article on email testing … about the tools available for testing emails in different email clients including Lotus notes?

  14. 36

    In my opinion all those tools are only nice for a quick preview. Those services for screenshots don’t work for testing pages with Javascript (mouseovers, AJAX etcetera) and tools like IETester aren’t exactly the same as the standalone versions (have experienced some subtle changes, mostly Javascript related). It’s a nice write-up but the conclusion has to be “use the real browsers” (in a VM or something). I don’t think any professional will rely on these tools.

    • 37

      Agreed. I’m considering moving from using IE Tester to VMs for IE. IETester would be great if it wasn’t pretty user unfriendly, didn’t crash constantly and didn’t do strange stuff from time to time (especially with multiple IE rendering engine tabs open at the same time).

      Microsoft offers free VHD files for IE6 and 7 at
      These can be imported into at least VMWare Fusion on the Mac. What isn’t so fun is that you need to rearm them from time to time to keep the activation crap at bay and the fact that the IE7 version is running on Vista so it takes a lot of space and is kinda slow.

      I think what we really need is a amlware that prevents machines running old IE from going anywhere else but a website that lets you download a modern browser.

  15. 38

    Anyone still use Multiple IE?

  16. 40

    I use IE Tester – great software! I also use Adobe Browser labs for my other projects, as well as actually downloading browser software.

  17. 41

    Jinson Joseph

    August 8, 2011 12:39 am

    My personal favourite is IE collection. IE Collection contains multiple IE versions, which are standalone so they can be used at the same time.

  18. 42

    There’s also IE Collection which enables you to install all versions of internet explorer from v1 to v8. Also comes with the ie developer toolbar. Its free but works only on windows.

  19. 43

    How about not testing for IE? Hm. Just a thought :)

    • 44

      Perhaps print work would be a more suitable field for you then?

      Think about your users first and foremost, not your own personal hangups.

  20. 45

    Matthew Banbury

    August 7, 2011 6:39 pm

    I would like to see Sauce Labs Scout service shown here, 200 free minutes of testing per month. Sauce Labs provides a lot of browser and OS options and sets you up with a browser dedicated VM instance that you operate inside the browser of your choice. It also records a video of your entire testing session. It is marketed at QA/Software Testers but would be a great addition to any designers test tool set.


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