iOS 8 (Safari, Request Desktop Site teaser)

Call me nitpicky, but there’s this tiny little feature in Google’s Chrome for iOS that I wish every mobile browser had: the ability to request a desktop version of a mobile site. Often times when you visit a website the server would detect your mobile device and automatically serve a mobile-optimized webpage.

For the most part, this works for the vast majority of normals. However, power users may have their own reasons for wanting to browse full-blown desktop websites on their mobile devices.

Responding to user feedback, Apple built a new Request Desktop Site feature into Safari on iOS 8. I quite like it and am positive that my Chrome usage will decrease as a result…

While Chrome the this feature under its main menu, Safari on iOS 8 doesn’t make it immediately obvious. Here’s how it works. First, you obviously need to visit a website.

Next, tap on Safari’s address bar, as depicted on the left screenshot below. This will bring up Safari’s new list populated with icons of your bookmarks and frequently visited websites.

Here comes the key part. Pull down on the menu to reveal two new options: Add to Favorites and Request Desktop Site, as evidenced by the screenshot on the right.

iOS 8 (Safari, iDownloadBlog homepage 003)iOS 8 (Safari, iDownloadBlog homepage 004)

As you can see on the before vs. after comparison below, choosing Request Desktop Site forces Safari to switch to a desktop-optimized version of the website, if any.

iOS 8 (Safari, iDownloadBlog homepage 001)iOS 8 (Safari, iDownloadBlog homepage 002)

Curiously, the feature doesn’t get a mention on Apple’s iOS 8 webpage.

It works as advertised and I couldn’t be happier that Apple has decided to enhance mobile Safari this way. Again, much of my Chrome iOS usage stems from the need to surf desktop websites rather than their mobile counterparts and iOS 8 Safari now makes this possible with a simple tap.

This feature was first spotted in the first beta of iOS 8 and is, in my personal opinion, one of the most useful unmentioned features of iOS 8.

So, how do you like this essential nice-to-have?

Out of curiosity, are there cases when you need to load a desktop version of the website on your iPhone or iPad?

See also:

  • Y4VIN

    VERY ESSENTIAL. I’ve had problems with “thrown together” mobile sites many times. Small business owners ask their web designer for a mobile site and what they get is a functionless trap that ironically prevents customers from properly using the site.

  • ikn0witall

    #Winning! (charlie sheen voice). I’ve noticed this too and was super excited about this feature. To me this and “Hey, Siri” were the best, unmentioned features of iOS 8

  • Ethan Humphrey

    I tried to tell you guys about it a while ago but i guess you never saw it

  • enifome

    That another jailbreak weak user agent going down the drain. Good add apple

  • felixtaf

    You also drag & drop shortcuts from frequently visited to favourites!

    Not sure if it was there before!

  • Framboogle

    Wow! Another “feature” stolen from Chrome

    • ExcitedMuch

      Dont be an a$$, just leave!

    • Rowan09

      This has been around on multiple browsers on the IOS store for years, so it’s not only Chrome. I’ve been doing this with other browsers before Chrome. Why is it when Apple adds features it can’t be seen as a good addition? Instead it’s damn if they do and damned if they don’t.

    • 12345678

      Although it is a nice feature…

  • DOOManiac

    After you request desktop site, can you go back to the mobile site? (does the menu option change?)

  • abdullah575

    I know !

  • Lame

    Safari on iOS is terrible and is eons behind powerhouses like iCab and Mercury

    • Technocrz!

      your name says it all

    • TheyArentHumans

      agreed, it’s still garbage. I manage to pull up this menu maybe once out of 100-150 tries. it is not intuitive at all. complete trash.

  • sosarozay300

    you can also rearrange tabs in safari by tapping and holding on 1

    • ikn0witall

      Been like that since iOS 7 days sir!

  • 12345678

    “While Chrome the this feature…” do you mean has this feature?

  • Jeffrey Feuerstein


  • on of few features that I miss when I use Safari on my iPhone good to see it on Safari finally.

  • kamel gasmi

    I missed this feature in safari for that reason I find user agent faker a must have jailbreak tool to request desktop version from safari,let’s wait ios8 release to have it natively on my best browser

  • ConnorF42

    I load the desktop version all the time. Most mobile sites are completely awful. Amazon’s for example.

  • HiGhGuY

    GOOD. Sometimes websites have a link at the bottom of the page, but sometimes not. When you want/need it and don’t have it, its extremely annoying.
    Now all they need to do is get rid of that stupid auto hide of the address/navigation bars. Or at least bring back the full screen button and give you an option in the settings to turn auto hide off

  • SDR97

    Love this setting but I’d like it even more if they had a preference to identify your browser as desktop version permanently.

  • nopeudon

    I love it, I use it a lot on some forums with horrible mobile formatting and when I’m reading wikia pages. I don’t like how te feature is so… hidden, however. Even knowing that it existed I couldn’t figure out how to access it and had to google for this guide.

  • I discovered this feature accidentally but then had to Google search (which brought me here) to figure out how I did it. Whatever happened to simplicity? Hiding that useful feature the way they did does not seem very user-friendly.

    The reason I like desktop version on my iPad is some sites use a terrible off-the-shelf mobilization software (you can easily spot it by the circular cursor that pops up while rendering) that turns decent websites into slideshows with giant ads.

  • Ryan Burbridge

    Can not for the life of me get this to work!