I don’t think enough can be said about how much Facebook has changed the way we interact. Basically a a large set of dynamic message boards personalized to the interests and the social circles of the user, Facebook has revolutionized the way that we keep in touch with our loved ones.
Instead of having to call someone (which these days requires clearing both of your schedules in advance), or even emailing someone, Facebook allows us just to catch up — to see what’s going on with someone at a glance. Now, Facebook is everywhere, and I don’t think it’s too much a stretch to say that it’s not going anywhere any time soon. It is such a massive part of the experience today that David Fincher, who directed Fight Club (one of the most socially relevant movies of its day) saw that Facebook deserved to receive the same sort of introspective examination in The Social Network.
And while there are a variety of first- and third-party apps out there designed to help you manage and access your Facebook account from pretty much any platform or device imaginable, sometimes all you need (or want) to work with is the basic website. And while this is usually pretty easy to access from a computer, most mobile devices are going to force you onto the mobile version of the site — which has a completely different layout, and usually a much reduced functionality. This article is to help you access Facebook’s full site (the desktop version) from any device.
Some Thoughts on Facebook
When it first came out in 2004, (the) Facebook’s membership was limited only to Harvard students. As time went on, it expanded its market to other top-tier universities. Eventually, the only criterion for membership was enrollment in some college somewhere. While those early limitations may have been a bit elitist (but we’ll give Facebook the benefit of the doubt — beta testing, and all), the decision to open it up to more markets while still limiting it to college students was a smart one.
Though the days before Facebook may now seem like hazy recollections of things that you once saw painted on the wall of the cave, Facebook was not the first social media site. Previous to Facebook taking off, perhaps the real site to beat was MySpace. In deciding to limit its users to only college-age (and enrolled) students, the team behind Facebook was hoping to do a couple of things: 1) reduce the number of duplicate, dummy, or “smurf” accounts that were set up for spamming purposes, and 2) appeal to an audience different from the sea of early teens and tweens who were taking over the previous social spaces. Even though, within the past few years, Facebook has again revised this policy so that now any one at least 13 years old can set up an account, the effects of those early policies are still felt: the culture of Facebook was already in place.
Now, of course, Twitter is immensely popular. (There are some 1.31 billion active accounts as of this writing — the Washington post puts the Facebook population as roughly equivalent to that of China. However, as this article points out, it’s difficult to know how many social media profiles are multiples of the same account, and how many are appreciably “active” users.)
Though the numbers may be unknowable (at least the meaningful ones), suffice to say there are a lot of people using Facebook. So much so that the development team behind it has felt confident about releasing specialized apps for a variety of platforms and devices. There’s a Facebook for iPads, Facebook for iPhones, Facebook for Android phones, Facebook for Windows Phones (which proves how hard they’re going after every market), Facebook for Kindles, for Vizio TVs… you get the picture.
Why Get the Whole Site?
The entire reason that there are mobile sites is that websites these days are resource intensive. Never mind the fact that they are usually laid out for mouse and keyboard navigation, and suddenly become very clumsy when you’re trying to navigate with just your finger.
This is what the reason has always been, at least. However, if you take a look at a lot of the devices that have been coming out in the past few years, you see that they are getting bigger. Not big in terms of Zach Morris’s cell phone….
…but big nonetheless. The Apple iPhone 6+ is the size of a small tablet (just barely smaller than the iPad Mini). Samsung has been making large Android devices for years. And with this increased touch screen real estate, we’re getting a couple of things: we’re getting a better ability to see websites, so shrinking things down for us is no longer essential. Also, we’re getting a better ability to interact with websites from touch devices, so dumbing things down is no longer completely necessary.
Accessing the Facebook Full Site from Any Device
Normally, we here at Appamatix are guiding readers through the process of getting an app to work on a device it wasn’t designed for (short of jail breaking, which not a lot of users are willing to attempt). But given this embarrassment of riches, the challenge with Facebook is a completely different one. We can access Facebook from any device, but working with either the various apps or the mobile site, there are certain things that you just won’t be able to do. (Such as sending a quick Facebook message to someone without having to open a brand new app!)
But accessing the full version of the site from an iOS device (this works both for iPad and iPhone) is actually pretty easy. Know that this assumes you’re working with Safari and have at least updated to iOS 8 (but with iOS 9 just around the corner, you should; iOS 7 won’t be supported much longer).
- Go the Facebook website. It will redirect you to the mobile site; this is okay.
- Tap on the address bar. The usual menu will come up, with you top links.
- Instead of typing in a new address, “pull down” on the menu, this will reveal new options, including “Request Desktop Site.”
- Tap on “Request Desktop Site,” and you’re there.
Of course, if you don’t want to do this every time you bring up Twitter, you may need to switch to another browser. (However, even that may not work. I installed Chrome, which all of my Android friends were telling me had a setting to default to desktop view, but that function showed up neither in the Chrome entry under the iOS Settings app, nor did it show up in the app’s internal settings menu.) Presently, there is no way to configure iOS settings so that the desktop version will be the default version. This has been a popular feature on other devices, so we may see it implemented in future versions (iOS 9 is just around the corner). However, Apple also maintains a very controlled user-experience, so they’re equally likely just to persuade us that we don’t want to use desktop sites, anyway.
From an Android device, the process is completely different. As with the iOS description, I am focusing on the native browser that comes preloaded on the phone, so while there may be better apps for bringing up the desktop version of Facebook on a mobile device.
When I said earlier that the process is completely different on an Android device, this difference actually points to key distinctions in the design and experience philosophies of the two devices. You see, on an Apple device, it’s all gesture based. (But notice that it only became an option after an operating system upgrade.) Achieving the same on an Android device will require a little more comfort with futzing around with the usually hidden nuts and bolts of your browser’s programming.
This is because Apple wants to make technology for people who don’t want to be bothered by their technology, whereas Android (like their Apple-antagonizing counterparts in the PC world) trusts you to look under the hood of your own devices, believing that any problems that may arise from your misstep is a fair trade for the freedom to make your tech experience exactly what you want it to be, and not what someone in a turtleneck has decided you should want it to be.
As above, I’m focusing on the pre-loaded browser in your device: specifically, the HTML browser.
- In the address bar, instead of putting in a website, type in “about:debug” (no quotation marks), then hit enter.
- This will bring up the debug menu. For most programs, debug is the menu you bring up when you want to make finer tweaks on your apps performance than is normally allowable through the settings menus.
- Hit the “menu” button of your device.
- Select “more”
- Select “settings”
- Scroll down until you see “UAString” and select that.
- This will bring up a menu which is most likely at its default setting, Android. Simply tap it into Desktop mode.
- Type “about:debug” into the address bar again (and then hit enter again) in order to close out of this menu.
From now on, every site you load up should be in the Desktop version, including Facebook. I like this because, instead of having to request this for every site, this now becomes a mode that you can adjust on and off, which is great if you’re planning on doing some multi-age browsing on the same larger-than-phone website.
Above are a couple of methods for getting the Facebook full site from any device. If you have any questions about the above, or if you had a different experience, let us know in the comments.