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Use web proxy auto-discovery in Safari Web Browsers
Unlike most browsers, Safari doesn't have a setting to use WPAD (web proxy auto-discovery) in OS X. However, there is a way to ask Safari to automatically detect the network's proxy settings, but only if your network administrator has configured WPAD on your network.

This auto-detect feature works through DNS. The browser looks for a host named "wpad" and if it exists, loads its settings by accessing a file named "wpad.dat" via HTTP. To use DNS-based WPAD with Safari on OS X, follow these steps:
  • In Safari, choose Safari » Preferences
  • Click on the Advanced icon
  • Click on the Proxies » Change Settings button
  • In the Configure Proxies dropdown menu, select Using A PAC File
  • In the PAC File URL field, enter http://wpad/wpad.dat
  • Click on OK
  • Click on Apply
Again, this is only helpful if your network administrator has set up a proxy to be auto-configured. If you're on a network that doesn't have such a setup, Safari will still work but much, much slower. To find out if your network supports proxy auto-detection, visit http://wpad/wpad.dat in your web browser. If your network supports WPAD, then your browser will download the file "wpad.dat" (which you can just delete). If it's not supported, you'll get an error message.

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Use web proxy auto-discovery in Safari
Authored by: leamanc on Jul 14, '09 08:14:45PM

Nice find, but wow, that is totally un-intuitive. You *must* have a server with that hostname, and it *must* have a file with that name on it? Come on Apple, just put in a proxy server config in Safari. Geez.

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Use web proxy auto-discovery in Safari
Authored by: Piquan on Jul 15, '09 12:06:47AM

I think you may have misunderstood. The way that autodiscovery works in ALL browsers is that you must have a proxy auto-config file with that name. (No browser will probe for any proxies that happen to be on the nextwork, and having one that tried would be a network admin's nightmare.) The only difference is that Safari doesn't have a button to automatically fill it in for you.

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Use web proxy auto-discovery in Safari
Authored by: Deegee on Jul 15, '09 06:32:30AM

Right I'm not a computer newbie but not a power user either. Tell me, why would a browser need this feature?
I've noticed Internet Explorer take ages to finish, 'detecting proxy settings' and have always been glad that the same delay doesn't exist on Safari.

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Use web proxy auto-discovery in Safari
Authored by: alexsharaz on Oct 28, '09 07:00:07AM

Actually, its better if you use

e.g. if you have a domain of then your mac should look for

if you just use http://wpad/wpad.dat you're expecting that your mac knows which domain you're in. If it doesn't then its not going to work. (Note: if you're using a PAC file, it doesn't have to be called wpad.dat it could be called anything, as long as the web server you're getting it from hands out the correct mime type associated with a PAC file)

Why use a Pac file or (even better) autodetect proxy settings?

Basically if you're at home on a broadband line then there's a high probability that you don't need it. If you're in a corporate environment however where you are likely to find a web caching service, what you need to do is tell your clients how to get to the outside world.The contents of your PAC file is a javascript function that your browser uses to find out how to get to a particular URL e.g.

  • Go direct if its a host on your network
  • Use this proxy service first
  • Use this proxy service if the first one fails
  • Blackhole machines with these addresses
  • etc...

From our experience, getting a user to type something in is a big problem .... a lot of them get it wrong. e.g. if you have a set of instructions with an image of a dialogue box showing a partial url and a bit of text below it with the full URL, the user will type in what they see in the image and swear blind they've typed it in correctly. If all they've got to do is check a box, there's a higher chance they'll manage it.

Where you're managing a lot of machines and are running a web caching service "Auto-detect proxy settings" is a really really good idea


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