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Web designers toolkit: QA browser and email client testing

updated 08/2023

testingbot.com has desktop testing and real device testing. Most of the options are locked for the free trial, but will be unlocked in the paid version. $20 per month is for unlimited live testing and unlimited screenshots. It is pretty fast and it also has a screen reader feature for any ADA projects. My current primary QA tool.

Screenshots + virtual environment live testing: I used this for years. This is for VNC and also for screenshots and includes a separate responsive test tool. They’ll give you an hour of free testing for signing up so try it. I found it to be very very fast. You need a separate account for screenshots and for virtual environments but each account is unlimited use.

BitBar (was crossbrowsertesting.com)
Screenshots + virtual environment live testing. Their service allows for full control of a remote computer. They have a full range of platforms and browser versions. You can get 5 min free for a quick test. (update: no more free, now you pay by the minute based on a monthly minimum subscription with roll over minutes).  The interface is not as slick as litmusapp (which only tests emails now) but has many more features and now supports mobile browsers. Free trial. Free limited account (at least if you already had a paid account?) I wish they offered per-minute usage instead of only monthly subscriptions.

Great simple tool. Does a proxy  through WonderNetwork servers, capture screenshots with the Chrome browser (used to be called shotsherpa but adopted a more culturally sensitive name)


Saucelabs.com: Each of their browsers include dev tools like firebug. Lots of other advanced features like screen capture. Automated code testing and other pro features. Small free account available and pricing starts at $12/mo.

I have not tried this but looks great. free option for now…. this tool will fill out fields and generate screenshots throughout the process. 2022 update: no longer available….

Here’s a great list from Envato of web QA tools including Ghostlab

If you just want a screenshot of what you can see on your own screen check out this great (but older) list. Or this list of browser testing services.

adobe browserlab
UPDATE: BrowserLab shut down on March 13, 2013. Screenshots only.  (introduced mid 2009; still free – until april 2012 although they keep extending the free period). This is really impressive – my new main tool and it’s free. I wish it had a better interface – some simple buttons to allow browsing through one shot after another would save a lot of clicking. This is only for screenshots but it’s got a useful onionskin feature for comparing different browsers one on top of another for that pixel-perfect situation.


A PC app that has all the major browsers in it. (defunct)

A free app for PC that has all the IE versions within it. Even IE9 preview.


The other email client testing I’ve used is the Inbox Inspector from MailChimp. But you have to pay for each test — $13. Overall, MailChimp offers a great service and lots of really useful (free) articles on email marketing.

Email testing only.  I have not used them since early 2010. They offer unlimited tests — starts at $79/month. One advanced feature they have is being able to share a set of tests by publishing it live. That sets up a convenient way to dialog with clients. Their old browser service only covered 11 web browsers. They changed their focus to just be on email testing – they have spam testing and other email-specific features. Free account allows for ie7 testing only – but not sure if that’s only for existing accounts that have expired their monthly subscriptions (like me…). I don’t see a way to sign up for a free account. There is a Free trial.

Why fight with display inconsistencies when you can just take it from me? These were mostly learned form testing at Litmusapp.

  • Lotus does not like <br> tags to be lower case. keep it <BR>
  • Gmail wants every bit of CSS to be inline – it will ignore your body tag and your declared CSS styles

2015 update: and now there’s some great shortcut solutions—run the html through the “inliner” tool here: https://putsmail.com/inliner – just paste all the code into that box, client the ‘inline css’ button, and wait a moment for the code to process.

I also tried http://premailer.dialect.ca but that tool was not as good – some design elements didn’t show up correctly in Gmail.

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  1. Posted August 25, 2009 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    You should also check out http://www.emailonacid.com – its a free email client testing service. Currently they support 15 clients and they do a code analysis so it’s easy to identify what is not supported in each client!

  2. Posted August 26, 2009 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Looks promising. I’ll check it out.

  3. Posted October 10, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I usually don’t post on Blogs but ya forced me to, great info.. excellent! … I’ll add a backlink and bookmark your site.

  4. Posted May 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The Adobe Labs product is great, very fast and unlimited tests, so good for switching back and forth when tweaking design issues.

  5. Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Great article. I’m not a big fan of Litmus, I do find it a little overpriced.
    Don’t forget Netrenderer! It’s usually what I end up using, though it’s mostly browser based

    • Posted December 18, 2010 at 1:45 am | Permalink

      netrenderer is a great, free service. But it’s got a big limitation – it only shows the top of a page. and the interface on it is very limiting.

  6. Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    The only problem I see with Litmus is that it looks at browsers and EMPs separately. What we find is that problems are often caused (especially with text) by the intersection of a given browser with a given email provider — IE9 and Yahoo or Chrome and Hotmail, to explain what I mean.

    Is there a tester (other than me opening 7 browsers with 4 different EMPs — what I’m doing now) that explores this intersection?

    By the way, there is an Air app called Mobilizer that is pretty good at rendering on one of four phones — EVO, iPhone 4, Blackberry Storm and Palm Pre. Helpful for mobile versions of emails and landing/ty pages.

  7. Posted September 29, 2015 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    Great post! I would suggest BrowseEmAll as another cross browser testing tool. It runs on your local machine (which is great for security and performance) and offers live testing, screenshots, reporting and selenium support.

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