How to Use cURL with a Proxy

Apr 30, 2024 ยท 7 min read

cURL is a powerful command-line tool for transferring data using various protocols. It supports the use of proxies, which can be handy when you need to access resources behind a firewall or want to hide your IP address. In this article, we'll dive into how to use cURL with proxies effectively.

What is a Proxy in cURL?

A proxy server acts as an intermediary between your computer and the internet. When you use a proxy with cURL, your requests are routed through the proxy server before reaching the target server. This allows you to access resources that may be restricted or to mask your original IP address.

How Proxies Work at the Protocol Level

  1. You send a request to the proxy server, specifying the target URL.
  2. The proxy server receives your request and forwards it to the target server.
  3. The target server processes the request and sends the response back to the proxy server.
  4. The proxy server receives the response and forwards it back to you.

HTTP and HTTPS Proxies

cURL supports both HTTP and HTTPS proxies. HTTP proxies are used for non-encrypted traffic, while HTTPS proxies are used for encrypted traffic. When using an HTTPS proxy, cURL establishes an encrypted tunnel through the proxy server to the target server.

SOCKS Proxies

cURL also supports SOCKS proxies, which operate at a lower level than HTTP/HTTPS proxies. SOCKS proxies can handle various protocols and are often used for enhanced anonymity and bypassing firewall restrictions.

How to Use Proxies with cURL

To use a proxy with cURL, you need to specify the proxy URL using the appropriate command-line option. Here are the basic syntax and variations:

curl -x <proxy_url>:<port> <target_url>
  • x or -proxy: Specifies the proxy URL and port.
  • : The URL or IP address of the proxy server.
  • : The port number of the proxy server.
  • : The URL you want to access through the proxy.
  • Examples

    Using an HTTP proxy:

    curl -x <> <>

    Using an HTTPS proxy:

    curl -x <> <>

    Using a SOCKS5 proxy:

    curl -x socks5:// <>

    Configuring cURL to Always Use Proxies

    If you want cURL to always use a proxy, you can set the http_proxy, https_proxy, and all_proxy environment variables. This way, you don't need to specify the proxy URL with each request.

    export http_proxy=
    export https_proxy=
    export all_proxy=socks5://

    Ignoring Proxy Settings for a Single Request

    If you have configured cURL to always use a proxy but want to ignore the proxy settings for a specific request, you can use the --noproxy option followed by a comma-separated list of hosts or domains.

    curl --noproxy ",localhost" <>

    Extracting Data with cURL

    cURL not only allows you to make requests through proxies but also provides methods to extract data from the response. Let's explore a few commonly used methods.

    Using jq for JSON Processing

    jq is a lightweight command-line JSON processor that integrates well with cURL. You can pipe the cURL output to jq to extract specific fields from a JSON response.

    curl -x <> <> | jq '.title'

    In this example, cURL sends a request through the proxy to, and the response is piped to jq. The .title filter extracts the value of the title field from the JSON response.

    Using grep for Text Matching

    grep is a powerful tool for searching and matching text patterns. You can use it in combination with cURL to extract specific information from the response.

    curl -x <> <> | grep "<title>"

    This command sends a request through the proxy to and pipes the response to grep. The "title" pattern matches the opening title tag, allowing you to extract the title of the webpage.

    Proxy with Authentication

    Some proxies require authentication to access them. cURL provides options to handle proxy authentication.

    curl -x <> <>

    In this example, username and password are the credentials required for proxy authentication. cURL will send these credentials along with the request to the proxy server.

    Best Practices

    Using Environment Variables

    Instead of specifying the proxy URL and port with each cURL command, you can set environment variables to store the proxy settings. This makes your commands more concise and allows you to easily switch between different proxy configurations.

    export http_proxy=
    export https_proxy=

    Creating Aliases

    If you frequently use cURL with specific proxy settings, you can create aliases to simplify your commands. Aliases allow you to define shorter names for longer commands.

    alias curlproxy='curl -x <>'

    With this alias, you can use curlproxy instead of the full command to make requests through the proxy.

    Configuring .curlrc

    cURL looks for a configuration file named .curlrc in your home directory. You can store frequently used options, including proxy settings, in this file to avoid specifying them with each command.

    # .curlrc
    proxy = <>

    With this configuration, cURL will automatically use the specified proxy for all requests.


    Using cURL with proxies provides flexibility and control over how you access resources on the internet. Whether you need to bypass restrictions, hide your IP address, or access resources behind a firewall, cURL's proxy support has you covered.

    By understanding the different types of proxies, configuring cURL to use them, and leveraging data extraction techniques, you can effectively utilize cURL in various scenarios. Experiment with the provided examples and best practices to streamline your cURL workflow and make the most out of this versatile command-line tool.


    What does cURL proxy do?

    A cURL proxy acts as an intermediary between your computer and the internet when making requests with cURL. It forwards your requests to the target server and returns the responses back to you. Using a proxy allows you to access resources that may be restricted or to hide your original IP address.

    How do I know if cURL is using a proxy?

    To check if cURL is using a proxy, you can use the -v or --verbose option, which enables verbose output. It will display detailed information about the request, including the proxy settings being used.

    curl -v -x <> <>

    Look for lines containing Proxy-Connection or Via in the output to confirm that the request is going through the specified proxy.

    What is the difference between wget and curl proxy?

    Both wget and curl are command-line tools for making HTTP requests, but they have some differences when it comes to proxy support:

  • Syntax:
  • Protocols:
  • Configuration:
  • How to use HTTP proxy in curl?

    To use an HTTP proxy in curl, you can use the -x or --proxy option followed by the proxy URL and port. Here's an example:

    curl -x <> <>

    Replace with the actual proxy server hostname or IP address, and 8080 with the appropriate port number.

    Does curl have a timeout?

    Yes, curl has timeout options that allow you to control how long it waits for a response before timing out. There are several timeout options available:

  • -connect-timeout: Sets the maximum time allowed for the connection to the server to be established.
  • -max-time: Sets the maximum time allowed for the entire request, including the connection time.
  • -timeout or m: Sets the maximum time allowed for the transfer, excluding the connection time.
  • Here's an example that sets a connect timeout of 5 seconds and a maximum overall time of 10 seconds:

    curl --connect-timeout 5 --max-time 10 <>

    If the specified timeouts are exceeded, curl will abort the request and return an error.

    These FAQ questions cover common concerns and usage scenarios when using curl with proxies. They provide practical examples and explanations to help users understand and effectively utilize curl's proxy support.

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