How to Setup & Deploy Proxy Settings on an iOS Device

This week I’ve been mainly trying out configuring web-proxy settings for iPads and iPhones. This is something that may not be very clear and so I have documented a few steps in this post.

One of the advantages of the proxy settings for iOS device, is that they are tied to the particular network you set them on. For example, if I connect to ‘Amsys WiFi’ and fill in a proxy setting, and then return home to my WiFi, the proxy setting will only be used on the ‘Amsys WiFi’ network.

If you require help with deploying iOS devices within your organisation please get in touch, or check out our range of support & consultancy services here.

Add proxy server settings to my iPad / iPhone / iPod Touch

1. Navigate to the ‘Settings’ app and tap on ‘WiFi’

Set up Proxy Server on iOS

2. Next, tap on the WiFi network you need to add the proxy to. This should be one you are currently connected to.

Set up Proxy Server on iOS

3. This next page will display all of your network information, for the network you are connected to. Scroll down to the ‘HTTP Proxy’ settings and tap ‘Manual’.

Set up Proxy Server on iOS

4. A new box will appear below the setting. Fill in the Proxy Server address, the Port and (if you use it) turn on Authentication and fill in a username and password. These details should be available from whoever is responsible for your network.

set up proxy server iOS

Once complete, exit the ‘Settings’ App and you’re good to go!

But I’m a Systems Administrator, I know this! How can I deploy this out to my users?

There are a number of ways to deploy this out to users, en masse.

The first, and simplest is using the Apple iPhone Configuration Utility. This provides the ability to create a Configuration Profile that can be installed to any local (read ‘USB’) connected iOS devices or emailed out to users to install themselves.

The second, and easiest (situation dependent) is using Apple’s Configurator. This is only really ideal if you’ve had a box of iOS devices delivered, not configured, then this can be ‘imaged’ with the new profile prior to be given out to a user.

The third method requires a MDM server (such as Apple’s Profile Manager Server – see the “how to configure profile manager” and “how to solve configuration problems” posts) with a method for the devices to talk to it without having the proxy settings configured. These can push out any proxy settings (including new ones) over the air.

Sounds great, but I’ve noticed there’s a field missing?

I’m afraid that it’s true. There is no GUI or Configuration Profile method to set Proxy exceptions. For some solutions, this can be a deal breaker. Dependant on the use of the iOS devices it may be required to have local addresses, or the MDM server, set as exclusions.

There are two solutions to this problem. I’ll glance over them here as they are beyond this blog post.

Solution 1: Routing. 

Depending on the exact configuration of your network, and of the routing devices that make it up, it maybe possible for the network routers to forward all local traffic internally and the rest directly to the proxy (configured by IP Address of the source and / or destination, for example).

Solution 2: Proxy Auto-Configuration File (PAC File).

This requires the configuration of a PAC File and hosting this file on an internal server. This file can contain the proxy server address, port number and any required exclusions. The iOS device can pull and apply the settings from this.

On the iOS device, in the same place you set the manual proxy, is the option to set an ‘Automatic’ Proxy. Simply change the switch to ‘Auto’ and fill in the details of the server and PAC file and you should be done.

Conclusion

A bit of a split End-User / Administrator post today. Hopefully this will answer any questions you have on Proxy settings and iOS, if not, then let me know in the comments below.

As always, please feel free to ask questions, or make suggestions for future topics in the comments below.

Further Reading

For more info on this topic, check out my follow up post on using .pac in iOS which will show you some basic ways in relation to creating, serving and using the .pac file.

If you require help with deploying iOS devices within your organisation please get in touch, or check out our range of support & consultancy services here.

33 Replies to "How to Setup & Deploy Proxy Settings on an iOS Device"

  • adrian saunders

    Hi
    Can you confirm that setting the proxy as automatic only works for http and not https?
    thanks
    Adrian

  • Hi Adrian,

    As default, I believe using the PAC file will apply the settings to both HTTP and HTTPS, but it is not something I have got round to testing.

    If this doesn’t work, there are additional options you can specify in the PAC file for each protocol. These are typically used if you require different protocols to go via different Proxy servers.

    I hope that helps.
    Darren

  • Robert

    The autoproxy is a good option for my network where some sites need to be accessed through a WAN router directly, other internet sites need to be accessed through the generic proxy. However I now need to enforce authentication on my proxy server….and the only way to configure this on the client is be configuring manual proxy settings 🙁

  • Hi Robert,

    I had another client who had issues getting the iOS to use an ‘authentication required’ proxy. The workaround they used was to get each iOS device to communicate on a different port, dependant on what proxy privileges group they should be in (e.g. Students on port 8080 and Staff on port 8081) and then apply proxy restrictions based on those.

    It seemed to work fine for them. I know it’s not ideal, but it could be an avenue worth pursuing?

    Darren

  • joe-47

    In my organization neither alternative can be implemented, and regrettably that’s why Androids devices are growing fast. In Android 4.x you can add the exceptions in the same way you do it in windows.. I hope Apple changes this in the next release…

  • I’m looking for an app which allows one to easily switch the system proxy without having to constantly enter a different IP address. If anyone knows of one?

    Also, if I use a PAC file – does this need to be 100% available? Will the iPhone use no proxy if the PAC is unavailable?

  • A cleverly written (URL, rule-based PAC file/script) will alleviate the challenge of my first question allowing different proxies for different URLs

    To answer my second question – based on my brief tests – the iPhone does, after a long initial wait, seem to understand that the PAC is unavailable and use DIRECT mode.

  • Hi Marc,

    Thanks for asking your questions and again providing the answer shortly after.

    Hopefully they’ll help others out there with the same issues.

    Darren

  • Moises

    Just wondering if this http proxy “think” is a viable solution to getting around a systems Internet security settings like say a schools lightspeed system so I can have complete freedom?

  • Hi Moises,

    I’m sorry to say I have not used the “think” product you talk about and so couldn’t comment.

    Also, at the risk of insult, we wouldn’t be able to advise students on how to get around their schools IT policies.

    If you have a genuine need to access blocked material, speak to your Teacher / IT support team. Otherwise, leave it till you get home.

    Darren

    • Not_Darren

      I couldn’t help but laugh at that comment. I came here looking for the exact same thing as Moises, but perhaps you are right!

  • Luis from Rio

    Man, a hole new world had just opened for me. Thank you and continue the great job.
    Happy new year for you and for everybody else !

  • Thomas

    I read this interesting article. I have the following Problem:

    Normally there’s an entry in the automatic proxy section of my iPad active that Leeds to a PAC file. Has always been working fine until I got the new video feature that comes with the Amazon Prime subscription now. This always tells me to switch my proxy of for whatever reason. This means, before using the Amazon Video app I have to open the iOS settings app, got to the WLAN settings, copy the path to the PAC file and disable the automatic proxy feature. After watching the video I have to reverse the whole procedure.

    Is there a way or app to shorten this procedure? I’d be very thankful for an advice.

  • Hi Thomas,

    I’m afraid not. I’m guessing there is a local IT team who configured your iPad with the PAC file. It would be worth speaking to them as it seems the proxy configuration is blocking your access to the Amazon Video service.

    Hope that helps

    Darren

  • Gary

    Hi Darren,

    Is there any way an App for mass consumer download can deliver the PAC file to change proxy settings over the air without being supervised using an MDM server. As long as you were getting the consumers consent and telling them the reasons why you needed to change the settings. This app will be used for a good purpose and not malicious intentions? Is there a way we could contact apple and get a license to do this? any advice or previous experiences you may have would be great.

  • Hi Gary,

    I think you maybe confused over what the PAC file does.

    The PAC file does not live on the device but on another server accessible from the device. The only information that you’d add to the iPhone / iPad etc is to point it at the PAC file.

    That way you can update the file on the host server without having to worry about pushing anything out to the client Macs.

    Hope that helps

    Darren

  • Gary

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for getting back to me, I was more meaning is there a way to change the settings in an Iphone or Ipad of the proxy settings without the device being supervised with a wired connection.

    Thanks

    Gary

  • Darren Wallace

    Hi Gary,

    You can manually set proxy settings for wifi connections by using the ‘i’ next to the wifi network

    If you’ve set a Global proxy you can only edit this via Apple Config or the MDM you used to set this. That’s because this setting can only be enabled via these methods. Wouldn’t be much good if you enabled it and could modify it easily!

    Darren

  • Jordan

    Hi
    I was wondering what to do if your the proxy settings won’t save and go back to off once I leave the settings app please help

  • Hi Jordan,

    1) What version of iOS are you running?

    2) What is the exact process you use to set and save the proxy details? (e.g. click “edit”, fill in proxy address, I click “save” etc etc).

    Thanks

    Darren

  • Basil Forthrightly

    Darren,
    re: Jordan
    I was having problems getting my proxy settings to “stick” after I entered the port; I eventually figured out that I had to NOT exit the settings app immediately (double-click home and switch), but go back up to the network list first. This was IOS 9.

  • ro

    Can i configure a proxy for mobile data traffic ? Did you know where is located the proxy file or pac file in iOS 9 ?

    • Darren Wallace

      Hi Ro,

      You can set a mobile traffic proxy using a Configuration Profile called “Global Proxy” pushed down from an MDM to a supervised device. It’s not something you can set on the device.

      The PAC file needs to be located on a server and not on the device, if you wish to use the PAC file.

      Hope that helps!

      Darren

  • With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism
    or copyright violation? My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve
    either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it
    up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any methods to help reduce content from being ripped off?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • Darren Wallace

      Hi Preston,

      We have had any issues with plagiarism or copyright violation as, simply put, what we add to the blogs, we do so with the intention of public consumption and usage. If our content is reused elsewhere, we ideally would like some credit / mention of the source but I would say it’s not something we require.

      Hope that helps!

      Darren

  • idropulitrice

    I have read so many articles concerning the blogger lovers
    but this paragraph is truly a good article, keep it up.

  • Urías

    Is there any way to have the pac file locally on the iPad ? that is, without having to store it on a server?

    • Darren Wallace

      Hi Urías,

      I’m afraid that it is not possible to host a PAC file on an iPad, and use it.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Darren

  • Ravi A

    Hi there, I am considering Solution 2: Proxy Auto-Configuration File (PAC File). This file can contain the proxy server address, port number and any required exclusions. Can we include the credentials for authentication?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Darren Wallace

      Hi Ravi,

      Those details themselves would need to be configured in the PAC file itself (if it’s possible) but then any devices you point to that PAC file will be using the same authentication details which kinda defeats the point of using credentials in the first place!

      For PAC files, the only thing that is configured on each device is the PAC file address.

      To answer your question specifically, it’ll depend on what is supported in a PAC file but I’m aware of support for providing credentials within it, but I may be wrong.

      Hope that helps!

      Darren

  • Hi Darren,

    Does this tutorial still works today? And do all apps get to see the proxy IP instead of my real IP?

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