There are many great proxy related add-ons for Firefox, but most of them are relatively similar. I would like to introduce FoxyProxy which is a little bit different from the rest of the competition. The main strength of FoxyProxy is that it allows you to set up pre-defined “rules” so that FoxyProxy can automatically switch between one or more proxy servers depending on which website you’re browsing.
So as a simple example let’s say that you have been kicked out of a forum and want to be able to continue posting by running a proxy and changing your IP address. You can set up FoxyProxy so that your proxy remains inactive until you go to the website that you are banned from.
As soon as FoxyProxy recognizes the URL you have predefined, it automatically opens the website using a proxy and will keep it active until you leave the site. This idea of selectively turning on your proxy for certain websites can save you a lot of time if you are manually turning your proxy on and off. Or on the other hand, it can save you a lot of bandwidth if you are the type of person who leaves your proxy on all the time.
As you can see, the idea behind FoxyProxy is simple, but it allows you to do some powerful things. However, you don’t always have to use FoxyProxy in this way. You can still use it to set up proxies and manually turn them on and off like you would with other proxy add-ons.
Setting up FoxyProxy
- Download FoxyProxy standard and restart Firefox when you are prompted after installation.
- After you re-open Firefox you will be prompted with the following message, “Would you like to configure FoxyProxy for use with Tor?” Just click No. You can always do this at a later time.
- Open the FoxyProxy options window by going to, Tools > FoxyProxy > More > Options in the browser menu.
- In the FoxyProxy options window, you will see a Default proxy which is your direct internet connection. You can add your custom proxy by clicking on the “Add New Proxy” button.
- Give your proxy a name by filling in the “Proxy Name” field.
- Next, go to the “Proxy Details” tab and select “Manual Proxy Configuration” where you can add a proxy IP address or hostname and port number.
- If you would like to set up your proxy, so it only runs for specific websites, then goes to the “URL Patterns” Tab and continue reading below for help in setting up a pattern.
How do you define which websites will run through the proxy?
Those of you who are familiar with wildcards and regular expressions will feel right at home. But even if you’re not familiar with them, you will be just fine if you follow some examples.
Let’s say that you would like to set things up so that your proxy is only activated when you go to YouTube (unblocking Youtube is sometimes necessary). The home domain for YouTube is:
But what happens when you go to other pages on the YouTube site? The URL’s change.
So how do you set things up so that the proxy remains active for every YouTube URL? It is where wildcard expressions come in and save us. In computer syntax, the * symbol has a special meaning. It is called a wildcard symbol, and it’s a placeholder that can stand for a string of characters of any length.
In this example our URL pattern to add to FoxyProxy will be:
Let’s put this to use in our case. Click “Add New Pattern.”
The URL pattern to add is https://www.youtube.com/*
You can activate the URL pattern you set up by right-clicking the fox icon in the bottom right corner of your browser window and selecting “Use proxies based on their pre-defined patterns and priorities.”
A simple wildcard character (*) at the end of the YouTube URL tells FoxyProxy to keep the proxy activated for any URL beginning with “https://www.youtube.com/.” So now you can browse around the YouTube site, and the proxy will know to remain active. Once you navigate to a different site that does not start with the URL you have set above, the proxy will be deactivated. The great thing is that you can add lots of predefined URL patterns for each proxy by substituting a different domain name in place of YouTube.
FoxyProxy Matching URL Patterns For Watching UK Online TV
One of the best features of FoxyProxy is that it allows you to set up pre-defined “rules.” Thus, FoxyProxy can automatically switch between one or more proxy servers depending on which website you’re browsing.
You can set up this proxy management tool so that your proxy remains inactive until you go to certain websites. As soon as FoxyProxy recognizes the URL you have predefined, it automatically opens the website using a proxy and will keep it active until you leave the site.
If you have access to a good UK proxy, you could use FoxyProxy to watch UK TV online. Below you can find several rules/patterns for different UK online streaming sites:
Where to find working proxies to use with FoxyProxy?
The downside of FoxyProxy is that it depends on proxies that you need to find yourself.
The problem: where to find working proxies to be used with these add-ons?
The solution: proxy list sites or premium proxy services.
You should know from the start that there is no such thing as fast and reliable open/free proxy. Most open proxies have a short life (from several days to several weeks), and they provide low speed due to the high traffic demand. Do not expect to watch Hulu using a free proxy! (If you find such a proxy let me know 🙂 )
Still, open proxies are good for anonymous browsing and unblocking websites like Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut.
So, where to find good proxies? Here is a list of sites that provide pretty good, tested proxies:
Important! Make sure you always choose high-anonymous proxies. (Q&A: What type of proxy should I use?)
FoxyProxy 2.13 main features
Eric Jung – the creator of FoxyProxy, has worked hard to improve the add-on and fix bugs. FoxyProxy 2.13 is now available for download!
Here are the most important features added or bugs fixed in the last versions:
- Ability to remove the “FoxyProxy:” prefix in the status bar with a “hidden preference” (i.e., no GUI currently).
- Log sorting by clicking on a column.
- Open log URLs in tabs.
- Copy URLs of log rows to the clipboard.
- Ability to delete log rows.
- Fixed launching of URLs on Sonbird and other platforms.
- Fixed “Copy Selection” so it copies patterns, too (as it did in 2.8.14 and before).
- Translation updates.
- When adding a new proxy, the Proxy Details tab is now the default tab. It contributes towards the faster addition of new proxies (one less click).
- Warning message for “You didn’t enter and enable any whitelisted (inclusive) URL patterns …” now has a “Do not show this message again” checkbox for better usability to people who use FoxyProxy like SwitchProxy (i.e., load all URLs through one proxy at a time).
- Revamp of “Do not show this message again” checkboxes so they can more easily be added for all sorts of annoying, recurring questions in FoxyProxy.
- Fixed longstanding bug whereby regular expression special characters ($, ., +, (, ), and ^) couldn’t be used in URL patterns
- Ability to sort patterns by clicking on the column headings.
- Ability to disable resetting of icon colors after URLs have finished loading via a “hidden preference” (i.e., no GUI currently).
- Change the attribute /foxyproxy[@resetIconColors] from true to false and restart Firefox. It enables you to quickly see which proxy was last used (instead of having to use the FoxyProxy Logging tab).
So to sum things up, this add-on not only improves upon Firefox’s basic proxy settings but it also gives you a lot of extra functionality, so you have more control over your browsing experience. An add-on like this is a must-have for a lot of people as we begin to see proxies becoming more popular and more web content being censored depending on a users geographical location.
Two thumbs up for Eric Jung who is the FoxyProxy creator! You can find more URL pattern examples on his website.
Scott Mulligan shares “internet knowledge” and helps you better understand the greatest invention that is The Internet. He blogs at ScottMulligan.ca.
Note: If you are looking for free Google Chrome proxy extensions take a look at this list.