How to Use a Proxy Server to Check Your Mail From Work

By B. Steele

In order to optimize productivity or increase security in the office, you might employ firewalls or other technologies to block Internet access to certain sites, such as personal email providers like Hotmail. Unfortunately, if your computer is behind the same firewall or security appliance, you may be unable to access your own email account. As a workaround, you can use an anonymous Web proxy server. A proxy server masks your real IP address, enabling you to bypass your content filters and access your email.

Select an online proxy server, such as Kproxy, Privoxy or Anonymouse's paid VIP service, that supports the SSL encryption which most email providers require (links in Resources). Some online proxy services are entirely Web-based, enabling you to access your email by typing the URL in a specific field on the proxy server’s homepage. Others require you to download client software to your computer or configure settings in your browser.

Configure your Web browser to work with your selected proxy server if necessary. The required settings, including the proxy type (for example, HTTP or SSL), should be available on the proxy’s Web page.

If you use Internet Explorer, access the proxy settings menu by clicking “Tools | Internet options | Connections tab | LAN settings.” Check the box next to “Use a proxy server for your LAN (These settings will not apply to dial-up or VPN connections),” type the address and port numbers provided by your selected Proxy service and click “OK.”

In Google Chrome, click the menu button on the right, select “Settings” and type “Proxy” (without quotes) in the search box. Click “Change Proxy Settings” from the search results to launch the Internet Properties box. Click the "LAN settings" button, then check the box next to “Use a proxy server for your LAN...,” type the address and port numbers provided by your selected Proxy service and click “OK.”

For Firefox, configure proxy settings by clicking on the "Firefox" button at the top of the window, hovering your cursor over the "Options" submenu and clicking "Options." Click the “Network” tab and “Settings.” Select "Manual proxy configuration," enter the appropriate IP address and port provided by your proxy service and click "OK."

Access your email account and log in as you normally would. For a Web-based proxy service like Anonymouse, first navigate to the proxy's Web page and enter your email provider's Web address into the appropriate field. The proxy service's Web page acts as a launching point for the service. For example, if your email provider is Hotmail and you're using Anonymouse's VIP service, you would enter the Web address for Hotmail in the field labeled "Enter website address" and then click the "Surf Anonymously" button.


Contact your IT department or consult your IT accepted use policy before using a proxy server. Many IT departments interpret proxy server usage as a deliberate attempt to circumvent all content filtering and therefore explicitly ban its use. However, your IT department may be able to configure the firewall with an exemption allowing your specific computer to access your email account.