If you take your laptop to lots of places, including corporate networks that use proxy servers, you need to know how to set a proxy server, so that you can access the Internet. Here's how to set a proxy server in all the major browsers for Windows: Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
How to Set a Proxy Server in Internet Explorer
I start with Internet Explorer because setting the proxy server in this browser affects the rest of the Windows operating system. For example, other installed browsers like Chrome and Opera use Internet Explorer's proxy settings. In Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, modern apps connecting to the Internet will use the same settings, and so on.
Therefore, start Internet Explorer and go to Tools (keyboard shortcut: Alt+X). Then, click Internet options.
In the Internet options window, go to the Connections tab. Here, click the LAN settings button on the bottom.
The Local Area Network (LAN) Settings window is opened. Here you can configure the proxy settings.
If you are using a proxy server with a URL just like any website, then check the box that says "Use automatic configuration script". Then, in the Address field, type the URL of the proxy server.
If you want to use a proxy server with an IP address and a specific port, check the box that says "Use a proxy server for your LAN". Then, in Address field below, type the IP address of the the server. In the Port field type the port that is used by the proxy server.
If you are in a business network, you might want to check the box that says "Bypass proxy server for local address" so that the proxy is not used when accessing websites and services from your network and only when accessing the Internet.
When done setting things up, click OK to save your changes.
How to Set a Proxy Server in Firefox
In Firefox, click the Firefox button on the top-left. Then, click Options.
The Options window is opened. Click the Advanced section.
Here you will find several tabs. Click Network and then Settings.
The Connection Settings window is opened. Here you can set how Firefox connects to the Internet and whether it uses a proxy or not. One thing you will notice immediately is that, unlike most browsers, Firefox offers plenty of customization options related to proxy servers:
- "No proxy" - when enabled, Firefox will not use a proxy server to connect to the Internet.
- "Auto-detect proxy settings for this network" - Firefox tries to detect whether a proxy is required to use the Internet on the network you are connected to. Depending on what it learns, it will set itself to use a proxy or not. I have tried this setting in a couple of business networks and it didn't work well.
- "Use system proxy settings" - when enabled, Firefox will use the same proxy settings as Internet Explorer.
- "Manual proxy configuration" - when enabled, you can type the IP address and port of the proxy you want to use. Unlike other browsers, Firefox allows you to set different proxy servers and ports for different kinds of traffic, like HTTP, SSL, FTP and so on. If you don't want to use a proxy server for specific network addresses, you can add them separated by a comma (,) in the "No proxy for" text box.
- "Automatic proxy configuration URL" - when enabled, you can type the URL of the proxy server you want to use.
To save your settings, click OK.
How to Set a Proxy Server in Google Chrome
Google Chrome doesn't offer any special configuration options for setting a proxy server because it uses the proxy settings found in Internet Explorer. However, you can start the configuration process from Google Chrome and it opens the Internet options window from Internet Explorer. Here's how it works:
Click the "Customize and control Google Chrome" button on the top-right. Then, click Settings.
A very long list of settings is opened and none of them are related to setting a proxy server. To extend this list, look on the bottom for the "Show advanced settings" link and click on it.
The list of settings is extended. Scroll down until you find the Network section. Click "Change proxy settings" and the Internet options window from Internet Explorer is opened.
To configure your proxy settings, read the first section of this article.
How to Set a Proxy Server in Opera
Like Google Chrome, Opera also doesn't offer any special configuration options for setting a proxy server. It uses the proxy settings existing in Internet Explorer.
Click the Opera button on the top-left. Then, click Settings.
In the list of Settings for Opera, scroll down to the Networks section.
Click "Change proxy settings" and the Internet options window from Internet Explorer is opened. To configure your proxy settings, read the first section of this guide.
Unlike Google Chrome, Opera provides a checkbox that says "Use proxy for local servers". When enabled, Opera will use the proxy server only when connecting to servers and web pages found in your network.
How to Turn Off the Use of a Proxy Server
If you have taken your work laptop home or you have changed the network connection so that you no longer need a proxy server, you can easily disable it.
For Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Opera, go to the Internet options window, as shown in the first section of this guide. Then, go to the Connections tab. Here, click the LAN settings button on the bottom. Uncheck "Use automatic configuration script" or "Use a proxy server for your LAN", depending on which proxy setting was used, and click OK.
In Firefox, use the same procedure as for setting a proxy server. In the Connection Settings window, check No proxy and click OK.
Now that you know how to set a proxy server in all major Internet browsers for Windows, you should be able to use any browser you wish on your corporate network. If you have any questions on this subject, don't hesitate to use the comments form below.