Google Uses Browser Sniffing To Prevent Safari and Opera Users From Getting Background Image Option

Google-Background-Image You have probably heard by now that Google has rolled out a new background image option. You can personalize your Google Search experience by using your own background image or by choosing one from the hundreds available in public galleries.

Unfortunately, due to some unknown reason, Google is using browser sniffing to prevent Opera and Safari users from accessing these options. It’s hard to believe that Google couldn’t find a way to make the image selection pane work in Opera or Safari. What makes this even more bewildering is the fact that Chrome also uses the Webkit rendering engine that powers Safari.

Guardian’s Charles Arthur suggests that Google may be blocking Safari due to the bad blood between Apple and Google. Arthur also suggests that the fact that Opera and Safari are popular mobile web browsers may have had a hand in Google’s decision. Of course, his explanation doesn’t stand to reason, since it’s easy to distinguish between the desktop version and mobile version of Safari as well as Opera.

My feeling is that it’s just plain old laziness on the part of Google and that is indeed a shame.

8 thoughts on “Google Uses Browser Sniffing To Prevent Safari and Opera Users From Getting Background Image Option”

  1. I'm using Safari 5 and I have had the background image option since it was rolled out. No clue what this article is talking about.

    1. I am also using Safari 5 (for Win) and I am still not getting the "Change background image option". Are you sure that you aren't masking your browser agent in someway?

  2. how to avoid this: make the browser identify as firefox or explorer.

    In opera, go to and rick click on the background. Click on web properties.

    In the Net tab theres a menu to select how the browser will be identified.

    If you pick firefox it will work :D

    1. I tried that before writing this article. With that method I got the background image, provided I had already selected one using a different browser.

      But, the image selection dialogue box didn't work (Opera 10.60 Build 3403).

      1. I also use Opera and using that method worked fine for me. Latest Version of Opera. Still stupid as to why Google dont allow Opera and Safari to use it so good article

  3. There is sniffing going on, obviously.

    My custom build of firefox had "Namoroka/3.6.3" as its useragent string and the background option never ever showed up.

    However, when I changed the useragent string to "Firefox/3.6.3" it worked like a charm.

    Also, if I fire up Opera and point it to Google's homepage and choose to "Identify as Firefox" in the site's preferences, the background option works as well.

    So, as I said, sniffing.

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