How to use Internet Explorer for Mac

10 min read

If you’ve just recently switched from PC to Mac, you’ve probably noticed that instead of Internet Explorer or Edge that you’re used to, Mac has its own proprietary browser called Safari. In fact if you try searching for “download Internet Explorer for Mac” you’ll quickly realize that the exact IE equivalent on Mac doesn’t exist. What do you do then?

Interestingly, at the dawn of the world wide web in the late 90s, Internet Explorer was the default browser on all Macs. But when Apple introduced Safari as the new default browser in 2003, Microsoft has decided to discontinue the development of IE for Mac shortly after. So unless you run Mac OS X 10.6 or earlier (why would you?), there is no way to directly install Internet Explorer on Mac. And you definitely shouldn’t use the Internet Explorer versions from pre-2003 right now.

How To Use Internet Explorer on Mac

Although natively launching Internet Explorer on Mac isn’t possible, there are other ways to simulate IE for Mac experience. You could mask Safari as different versions of Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge, you could also install a virtual machine and launch IE for Mac that way, or you could simply choose to use any other third-party browser available on macOS.

Simulate Internet Explorer on Mac with Safari

Important: Safari can simulate Internet Explorer on macOS Mojave or earlier. On Big Sur, Catalina, or Monterey, it’s only possible to simulate Edge.

Most of the time, if you need to use Internet Explorer on Mac, it’s probably for testing purposes, to see how certain websites or web apps perform, or to access websites that require you to use IE (yes, those still exist). Both of those use cases could be easily performed by Safari. To use Internet Explorer with Safari, you just need to turn on developer tools:

  1. In Safari, go to Preferences > Advanced
  2. Check “Show Develop menu in menu bar”

 Safari develop menu tools

Now you can access developer tools directly from Safari, which let you inspect websites, empty caches, and most importantly simulate a variety of other browsers right through the Safari app. To use Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer on Mac:

  1. Go to the Develop menu in Safari’s menu bar
  2. Navigate to User Agent and select the browser you’re looking for, whether it’s Microsoft Edge, any of the Internet Explorer versions, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.
  3. The website you’re on will be automatically refreshed to reflect the browser of your choice. Just don’t forget to switch back.

user agent Safari

The User Agent option in Safari should cover nearly all reasons for using Internet Explorer on Mac. However, if you do absolutely need to launch Internet Explorer itself for one reason or another, you could also try doing it with the help of a virtual machine.

Launch Internet Explorer on a virtual machine

While using a virtual machine for Internet Explorer is not by any means an easy solution, it’s still there for anyone who needs it. What virtual machine essentially does is installing a full-scale copy of Windows on your Mac and letting you launch it as an app inside the macOS. From there you can launch Internet Explorer or, in fact, any program you miss from your Windows days.

How to run Windows on Intel Macs

To set up virtual machine, first you need to buy a copy of some virtual machine software (VMware Fusion is a good one for Intel-based Macs) and a license for Windows. Once you have those in place:

  1. Download both VMware fusion and the Windows ISO file
  2. Launch VMware Fusion
  3. In the Installation Method window, choose “Create a new custom virtual machine”
  4. Drag and drop your Windows ISO file onto the dialogue window
  5. Click Finish
  6. Relaunch the virtual machine and click the play button to setup Windows

How to run Windows on M1 Macs

If you have a newer M1 Mac, the only option to install Windows so far is with Parallels Desktop 16 and Windows 10 for ARM: 

  1. Download Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac
  2. Register as a Windows Insider and download Windows 10 on Microsoft’s website
  3. Open Windows 10 .VHDX file in Parallels and follow the instructions to set up virtual machine 
  4. Install Windows 10
  5. Log in your Parallels account and complete the Windows update.

Now every time you need to use Internet Explorer on Mac, you can just launch the virtual machine and use IE directly with Windows that way. 

There are certainly a few downsides to this solution. First, you have to purchase both VMware Fusion or Parallels and a licensed copy of Windows for the sole purpose of using Internet Explorer. Second, virtual machines tend to be quite heavy on your processor, as they are running the whole operating system inside them.

Another option available to you in case you don’t specifically need to use IE for Mac but rather move away from Safari is to switch to any other third-party browser, or — even better — set up custom browser rules with OpenIn.

Use third-party browsers on Mac

If Safari is not your first browser of choice and using Internet Explorer for Mac is at the very least quite complicated, you can download any other stable and widely used browser out there and make it the default one on your macOS.

Google Chrome

By far the most dominant browser of today, Google Chrome currently commands 45–65% browser market share. Developed by Google, the browser is available on both desktop and mobile devices, and thus boasts a significant amount of plugins and web apps that are exclusive to it. Chrome has also been praised for its speed and tight integration with all other Google products. As for the downsides, using Chrome means being subjected to Google’s pervading tracking and helping Google to effectively monopolize the web.


Firefox is another great everyday browser. Heir to the first commercial web browser called Netscape, it’s an open-source program owned by the not-for-profit Mozilla Foundation. Firefox is fast, secure, and boasts a supportive community around the world. All of this makes it a great alternative to Safari and Internet Explorer.


Brave is a newcomer to the browser arena that first appear only in 2015. Based on the open-source Chromium project (as is Google Chrome), the browser quickly gained a loyal following due to its aggressive privacy controls and adblocking. Turning Brave into your default browser might seem a bit experimental at this point, but it nevertheless presents a good option for anyone concerned with privacy.

Microsoft Edge

In early 2020, Microsoft released Edge for macOS, which runs on Chromium (same as Google Chrome and Brave). And in spring 2021, vertical tabs were added to Edge for Mac — one of the universally loved features you might as well want to try. Not to mention that Windows users will just find Edge more familiar and easier to use than other browsers.

Microsoft Edge

Overall, these are your three options of running Internet Explorer on Mac. You can use Safari’s User Agent to view any webpage just as Internet Explorer would, launch the actual Internet Explorer browser through a virtual machine running Windows, or choose one of the alternative browsers if all you want to do is get away from Safari on Mac.

Or, you can get the best out of every browser with OpenIn. 

Use multiple browsers with OpenIn

OpenIn is a smart file and link opener for Mac. It helps you set up a workspace where you can use as many browsers as you want to work faster and more productively. Essentially, it learns in what browser you want to open specific types of files or mailto links. And if you want to have a choice, OpenIn will show you a selector list with the available browsers when you click a link. 

Let’s say you like vertical tabs in Edge and want to use it for when you need to open multiple sites. Chrome is best for Google-linked accounts, and if you use Gmail, it totally makes sense to use Chrome for mailto links. Safari is fast and private (especially with the new Private Relay and Hide My Email features on macOS 12). OpenIn lets you use all of them, without turning your workflow into a mess. 

There are two ways to use OpenIn: 

  1. Make OpenIn your default browser — so you can always choose where to open a specific link. In OpenIn Preferences, go to Browsers. You’ll see a warning saying OpenIn is not your default browser. Click “Fix it.” That’s it, you’ll now see a browser selector list when clicking links. 

  2. Set up default browser

  3. Specify rules for every browser. If you do this, OpenIn will know which of your browsers should open mailto links, which one should open specific domains, etc. In OpenIn Preferences > Browsers, click a browser (let’s say, Chrome) > Use ‘only for rules’ or ‘by default and rules’ > specify the rules. The rules can be certain domains, source apps, etc. That’s how you make your whole flow personalised. 


Create custom rules

However, if you’re new to Mac, a browser might not be the only thing you’re concerned about. You also need to find apps to cover all kinds of issues related to optimization, organization, security, and productivity.

Essential apps for all new Mac owners

As soon as you switch from PC to Mac, you realize that sadly not all apps you loved and used daily are available on macOS. So naturally you need to find suitable alternatives. The good news is Mac has an abundance of great apps for everything you need. But how do you choose and decide which ones are worth your time?

That’s where a platform like Setapp becomes indispensable. Setapp is a productivity suite of 230+ apps for Mac and iPhone. All apps are automatically updated to their latest versions and new apps are added regularly. It’s a godsend for new and seasoned Mac users alike. Discover new apps that are the best at what they do.Setapp starter kit

Here is an essential introductory set of some of the apps featured on Setapp that every new Mac user should have.


A lightweight utility performing a vital role, Bartender keeps your menu bar clean and tidy. As you use your Mac more and more, every new app would want to be featured in your menu bar (top-right corner). This quickly becomes unsustainable, and instead of a quick access to the apps you need, you’ll spend more time just trying to find the right one.

Mac’s default organization settings for menu bar are quite basic, only allowing you to reshuffle icons. Bartender lets you hide them under a single icon and feature just those you need to use right at the moment.Bartender hide menu bar icons


Lauded as the best writing tool for years, Ulysses features a clean interface and lets you focus on the writing process, whether it’s for simple notes, speeches, or anything in between. The app’s Markdown support makes it web friendly, allowing direct exports to WordPress and Medium. Plus, you get features like writing goals and grammar check, helping you hone your writing skills and habits.Ulysses focused writing

Disk Drill

No one ever wants to lose their files, no matter whether it’s due to physical damage or accidental deletion. Disk Drill solves that problem by essentially insuring and giving you the option to recover your files. As the most widely used data recovery tool around, Disk Drill helps you back your files on a regular basis and save lost files from damaged hard drives if things ever go south.Disk Drill recover files

CleanMyMac X

The ultimate Mac optimization app, CleanMyMac X keeps your Mac free of any junk, safely and completely uninstalls old apps, and protects you from being affected by malware. Just launch CleanMyMac X once a month to do a complete scan of your computer and you’ll ensure your Mac’s top condition.

Cleanmymac X smart scan

Best of all, OpenIn, Bartender, Ulysses, Disk Drill, CleanMyMac X, and all other apps featured on Setapp are available to you on a free trial. Just launch Setapp and try out as many apps as you want, turning your transition to Mac from a chore to a pleasurable discovery.

FAQ about Internet Explorer for Mac

How to download Internet Explorer for Mac

If you want to know how to access Internet Explorer on Mac, you should either consider simulating it through Safari on macOS Mojave or older versions, install Windows on Mac with a virtual machine, or else find an alternative browser, because Internet Explorer is not natively available on Mac.

Can you install Internet Explorer on Mac?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to directly download and install Internet Explorer on Mac. However, there’s an option to install Windows on your Mac with a virtual machine, and then install and use Internet Explorer, just as you’d do on a Windows computer. You can also simulate Windows browser on Mac through Safari, but it’s only possible on macOS Mojave and older versions.

What is the best alternative to Internet Explorer for Mac?

The best options are Safari, Chrome, and Firefox — all of them can ensure fast and stable performance, and all can be used for free. Safari is believed to be faster and more secure for Mac users, Chrome has the best power features and integration with Google, and Firefox is light on memory usage. You can as well use multiple browsers for different tasks with OpenIn

Why Internet Explorer is not for Mac

Although many are wondering why there’s no Internet Explorer for Apple devices, it totally makes sense. Internet Explorer is a native browser developed by Microsoft, which comes pre-installed on Windows computers. Just as Safari, it’s been specifically designed to work on a certain operating system — in this case, Windows — and can’t be installed on third-party OS. 

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