Setting Up a Proxy Server on a Mac

By Ed Oswald

Mac OS X has built-in features to control proxy settings.
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If your business uses Mac OS X and wants to use a proxy server to control or secure Internet traffic through your network, there are some considerations to be mindful of. Apple’s operating system allows you to control what types of Internet traffic must pass through a proxy.


Proxy servers are used for several reasons. Two common uses are security and privacy. Proxies allow for connections to Internet services through what is called a “gateway.” This acts as the middleman between a local network and the Internet. Some Internet services require connection through a proxy so that all connections can be monitored. Others may use proxies for privacy reasons, as the requests will appear to come from the proxy’s IP address rather than the individual computer.


Proxy use is set up through the Network section of System Preferences within Mac OS X. To access the proxy settings dialog, click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen, then “System Preferences” and the Network Icon. Click the “Advanced” button located in the lower right of the popup window, and then the “Proxies” tab. The proxy settings are located here. What settings you will check depends on the type of Internet traffic you would like to pass through the proxy.


If you were given a URL to set up your proxy automatically, checking either “Auto Proxy Discovery” or “Automatic Proxy Configuration” will adjust your Mac’s connection settings to route Internet traffic through the proxy automatically. If you instead have a direct IP address to the proxy, you will need to enter this IP address into the respective services you would like the proxy to be used for. Mac OS X allows you to adjust proxy settings for standard websites (“Web Proxy”), secure sites (“Secure Web Proxy”) and FTP connections (“FTP Proxy”), among others.


Some proxies require a username and password in order to use them. You need to check “Proxy server requires password” and enter this information if this is the case. Failure to do so will result in errors in attempting to connect to websites using the password-protected proxy. Each type of proxy will also allow you visit websites outside of the proxy. If you wish to do this, enter these addresses (separated by commas) in the text box under “Bypass proxy settings for these Hosts & Domains." Internet traffic to these sites will connect directly rather than through the proxy.