A enormously valuable blogging and web design tool which I periodically forget and then recall (just recalled again) is BrowserShots.org. It allows you to view your site in a number of different browsers. You can see if something it broken in Internet Explorer (or some version of IE, which they call MSIE) or Safari which you haven’t noticed because it looks normal in your regular browser.

You can also see how the site appears at various widths.

Mrs. Micah in Firefox 3 at 1280 widthHere’s an example of financefreelancelife.com in the Firefox 3 (beta) browser. I set it to 1280 width instead of the 1024 I’d see it at. I took this right after the post published. Click the thumbnail to see the whole thing.

They’ll expire, but you can download them if you need to keep using them. Generally I’m only concerned as to whether things are lining up right.

I’ve found this service tremendously useful because I only run the Windows platform (so I can’t use Mac and Linux browsers…at least not easily). And because my old laptop will only get to 1024px wide.

Because it’s a free service, there are only a certain number of times per day you can request screenshots for any particular address. I didn’t find a particular number listed, but it appears to be around 50. So I’d advise you to be careful when selecting the browsers and widths you want.

There’s a queue which you can bypass by signing up for paid account. Signing up will also give you unlimited and private screenshots (they have a recent screenshots page, but since the site isn’t private I don’t care if I’m on it), support, and no expiration (requests expire after 30 minutes, so you have to click an extend button if they’re not all loaded yet…but extensions are free).

So if you’ve been wondering how your site looks to visitors using other browsers, it’s easy enough to find out. I wouldn’t worry as much about the more arcane ones…but getting it straight in the big ones like Firefox, IE, Mozilla, Opera, and Safari is a good idea.

(I should note that PNG files show up with strange background in Internet Explorer, but on a real computer I’ve found they look fine. Edit: I should also add that sometimes browsershots won’t accept your site the first time around. Try resubmitting.)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Funny about Money June 12, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for letting us know about this! Since I use Mac’s endlessly limited iWeb, I have to check the site’s appearance on a PC, usually the one at my office.

BTW, when I call up financefreelancelife.com on the Great Desert University’s high-powered Dell, usually the left-hand side of the content column is truncated by a letter or two: the left-hand column overlaps the copy in the center column a tiny bit. That doesn’t happen on the Mac. Viewed in Safari or Firefox on the Mac, the site is very attractive and appears to be perfect.

If this doesn’t appear in the freeware, I could e-mail a screendump to you, if that would be useful.

Your Sister June 13, 2008 at 12:35 am

Hey, I actually use Firefox 3. It looks fine, I assure you, although I’m only at 1024×768. However, Youtube, not so much. They should be using this program…

jeflin June 13, 2008 at 9:35 am

I am using Firefox Mozilla for now and it has served me well. Still I have bookmarked the service to do my checking out when I am free.

Susan June 13, 2008 at 10:02 pm

This is good to know! Thanks!

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