Automatically switch proxies in Firefox's Private Browsing mode

Martin Brinkmann
May 21, 2015
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Private browsing sessions are handy if you don't want certain activities to be recorded on the local system. While there are still traces on the local system if you dig deep enough -- the DNS cache for instance may reveal which sites you have opened -- there are also remote traces that you need to take into consideration.

One option to deal with those is to use a proxy or VPN whenever you activate the private browsing mode. While there is no such option available for connecting to virtual private networks automatically when you enter Firefox's private browsing mode, it is possible to configure Firefox to connect to a specific proxy server automatically when you load the mode.

Private Browsing Proxy is a browser add-on for Firefox that provides you with those capabilities. It connects to proxy servers automatically whenever you load a private browsing mode window so that it is used instead of the regular connection (or proxy).

firefox private browsing proxy

The extension adds an icon to Firefox's main toolbar which displays a configuration screen on activation.

It enables you to add the following proxies for use in the browser's private browsing mode: HTTP, SSL, FTP, Socks v4, Socks v5.

You may also add an auto-url (proxy auto-config url) instead of specifying proxy servers and IP addresses manually.

The proxy information that you enter in the configuration window are used automatically by the add-on whenever you launch a new private browsing window in Firefox.

It switches to the proxy as soon as a new private browsing window is created and switches back to the original proxy settings (either a different proxy or direct connection based on Firefox's configuration) when the private browsing session is closed again.

proxy notification

The extension displays notifications whenever proxy settings are changed. You find those in the lower right corner of the screen (not necessarily the browser window).

The extension has two limitations currently. While it works fine when you start a new private browsing window, it is not compatible with the private tabs add-on. The second limitation is that it cannot detect if you have configured Firefox to run in private browsing mode by default.

The latter should not be that much of an issue as you can configure proxy servers accordingly in this case then.


Private Browsing Proxy is a useful add-on for Firefox users who use the browser's private browsing mode regularly and want to improve privacy remotely as well. The add-on is easy to set up and works automatically after setup.

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Private Browsing Proxy
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  1. John inBoulderCO said on September 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Where can you get more?

  2. Jeff said on May 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    “the DNS cache for instance may reveal which sites you have opened”

    Is there a way to clear the DNS cache?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      Yes, you need to run ipconfig /flushdns using the command prompt.

      1. Jeff said on May 21, 2015 at 6:18 pm

        Thanks :-)

  3. Maelish said on May 21, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Does the plug-in offer any private proxies?

    1. PhoneyVirus said on May 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

      Same question I knew it was to good to be true. Fining free well know Proxy servers is little to none these days. Use to like until they went from free to commercial.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      No, it does not ship with any proxies, you need to add them yourself.

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