Run IE on your Mac with free ies4osx

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ies4osx logoIt happens so often: a Mac web designer creates a site that looks amazing in Firefox and Safari. It validates flawlessly.

And then one day they happen to be looking at it on a friend's Windows machine running Internet Explorer, and it looks like hell: padding and margin settings blown out, weird little bugs popping up all over the place, and that wonderful design generally shredded.

The usual suggestion is to buy a full copy of Microsoft Windows (cha-ching!) and either use Boot Camp (rebooting every time you want to test a tweak to your design) or pony up the cash for virtualization software. Either way, you're dropping a chunk of change and using up a boatload of disk space.

Perhaps more appealing, you could buy CrossOver Mac, which for $60 lets you install and run lots of Windows software on your Mac.

But if all you want to do is test web sites, there's a much cheaper solution to your problem. As in free.

ies4osx is a Mac-friendly version of IEs 4 Linux, which uses the open-source WINE project to run slimmed-down versions of IE 5, 5.5, 6 and 7. (CrossOver Mac uses WINE as well.)

Installation is drop-dead easy:

  • download a disk image, and drag the folder it contains to your Applications folder,
  • download, unzip and run the ies4osx installer,
  • and run ies4osx itself to download your choice of flavours of IE.

The result? IE icons in your Applications folder, ready for you to launch 'em.

X11 logoOne little thing: when you run IE, it actually opens in X11, which is installed automatically in OS X 10.5, but is optional in earlier editions - Tiger users, dig out that installation disk.

A bigger issue: this only works for Intel-based Macs. G5 and G4 owners, my sympathies.

If my experience so far is typical, ies4osx is a winner. The installation process was flawless (although it would have been nice to have a progress indicator as the app installed various versions of IE -- as it turned out, that was only about 10 minutes or so).

So far so good on running IE... even simple Flash movies (like the ones that make up the headlines on the Social Signal blog) render fine, although more complex ones seem to choke.

So: Windows software without Windows, and without breaking out the Visa. Nice.


Poster Maniac says

December 19, 2007 - 12:19am
Nice to see an emulated IE.. Anyway i am pretty satisfied with Firefox..

Phillip Smith says

February 1, 2008 - 1:11pm
Great post Rob. I made the switch to VMWare Fusion for Mac late last year and haven't looked back. It's lightening fast, let's you run more than just IE (e.g., Visio, MS Project), and -- as an added bonus -- I can also run desktop Linux on MacBook. Phillip.

Rob Cottingham says

February 12, 2008 - 8:32am
I've heard good things about Fusion. We're actually running Parallels Desktop on our Mac Mini, and I can't complain... other than the price tag of a whole new OS. But if that means I can talk at least a little knowledgeably with people who use Windows, and don't get completely flummoxed when I have to demo something on a Dell, then I guess it's worth it.

Rob Stephens, Manchester, UK says

February 19, 2009 - 11:04am

Nice blog. I followed the instructions and downloaded ies4osx and WINE. When I run ies4osx itself it only offers me the download of IE 6 only. I want IE 5 & 7 also to test a website I am working on with.

I have an imac running OS X 10.5 and using intel.

Any ideas why it won't offer me IE 5 or 7? Also any other ways I can get download IE 5&7 and run them?

Kind regards, Rob

Rob Cottingham says

February 19, 2009 - 11:34am

That's interesting, Rob. I've tried downloading the latest version and get the same issue. Their web site no longer lists IE 7, which is interesting, but doesn't explain why 5.x is gone.

Are you using the 1.1.9 version of Darwine?

jo says

March 8, 2009 - 3:17pm

When I double click in IE and click install it gets as far as the first item on th list (creating environemnt) and tells me that installation is complete and successful and I should find the browser on my desktop. I am presuming this is wrong and it needs to go through a complete installation process. Any ideas?



Rob Cottingham says

March 9, 2009 - 12:31am

Hmm. Do you in fact find the app (in good shape or otherwise) on your Desktop?

jo says

March 9, 2009 - 5:11am

Hi Rob,


Thanks for your help. No nothing appears on the desktop. I think it is something to do with wine or darwine. I have used 1.1.9 and it is in my applications folder. I have downloaded X11.

I am on mac OSX 10.4 and Intel.


This is the log from the download


wine cmd.exe /c echo '%ProgramFiles%' returned empty string
Note: command 'sh /tmp/ies4osx/winetricks winver=win98' returned status 1.  Aborting.

Casp says

September 27, 2009 - 12:18pm

I got the same problem but i fixe it:


Download the last verison of X11 (preference systeme check version)

And download Wine:


Not darwin .. its doesnt work with darwin on my Mac intel (osx10.4)

Anonymous says

May 23, 2010 - 5:32pm

Thank you!!! Worked wonderfully without having to purchase any software! You are a lifesaver.


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