4 ways to authenticate a proxy in Puppeteer with Headless Chrome in 2022

Matt Stephens
Matt Stephens
Table of Contents

Quick guide to 4 different fast and effective (and very simple) ways to help you authenticate your proxy in Puppeteer with Headless Chrome.

Puppeteer with a headless Chromium browser has proven to be an extremely simple, yet powerful tool for developers to automate various actions on the web, such as filling in forms, scraping data, and saving screenshots of web pages.

When paired with a proxy, Puppeteer can truly be practically unstoppable; however, there can be some difficulties when trying to configure Puppeteer with Headless Chrome correctly to authenticate a proxy that requires a username and password.

Normally, when using a proxy requiring authentication in a non-headless browser (specifically Chrome), you'll be required to add credentials into a popup dialog that looks like this:

auth popup dialog

The problem with running in headless mode is that this dialog never even exists, as there is no UI in a headless browser. This means that other avenues have to be taken in order to authenticate your proxy. Perhaps you've tried doing this (which doesn't work):

const browser = await puppeteer.launch({
    args: [`--proxy-server=http://myUsername:myPassword@my.proxy.com:3001`],
});

Don't worry, we've tried it too. The reason this doesn't work is because Chromium doesn't offer a command-line option which supports passing in the proxy credentials. Not to worry, though! Today, we'll be showing you four different (and very simple) methods that'll help you authenticate your proxy and be right on your way:

1. Using the authenticate() method on the Puppeteer page object:

For two years now, Puppeteer has supported a baked-in solution to authenticating a proxy with the authenticate() method. Nowadays, this is the most common method of doing it in vanilla Puppeteer.

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

const proxy = 'http://my.proxy.com:3001';
const username = 'jimmy49';
const password = 'password123';

(async () => {
    // Pass proxy URL into the --proxy-server arg
    const browser = await puppeteer.launch({
        args: [`--proxy-server=${proxy}`],
    });

    const page = await browser.newPage()

    // Authenticate our proxy with username and password defined above
    await page.authenticate({ username, password });

    await page.goto('https://www.google.com');

    await browser.close();
})();

There are two key things to note with this method:

  • The proxy URL must be passed into the --proxy-server flag within the args array when launching Puppeteer.
  • The authenticate() method takes an object with both "username" and "password" keys.

2. Using the proxy-chain NPM package:

The proxy-chain package is an open-source package developed by and maintained by Apify which provides a different approach with a feature that allows you to easily "anonymize" an authenticated proxy. This can be done by passing your proxy URL with authentication details into the proxyChain.anonymizeProxy method, then using its return value within the --proxy-server argument when launching Puppeteer.

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');
const proxyChain = require('proxy-chain');

const proxy = 'http://my.proxy.com:3001';
const username = 'jimmy49';
const password = 'password123';

(async () => {
    const originalUrl = `http://${username}:${password}@${proxy}`;

    // Return anonymized version of original URL - looks like http://127.0.0.1:45678
    const newUrl = await proxyChain.anonymizeProxy(originalUrl);

    const browser = await puppeteer.launch({
        args: [`--proxy-server=${newProxyUrl}`],
    });

    const page = await browser.newPage();

    await page.goto('https://www.google.com');

    await browser.close();

    // Close any pending connections
    await proxyChain.closeAnonymizedProxy(newProxyUrl, true);
})();

An important thing to note when using this method is that after closing the browser, it is a good idea to use the closeAnonymizedProxy() method to forcibly close any pending connections that there may be.

This package performs both basic HTTP proxy forwarding, as well as HTTP CONNECT tunneling to support protocols such as HTTPS and FTP. It also supports many other features, so it is worth looking into it for other use cases.

3. Within ProxyConfigurationOptions in the Apify SDK:

The Apify SDK is the most modern and efficient way to write scalable automation and scraping software in Node.js using Puppeteer, Playwright, and Cheerio. If you aren't familiar with it, check out the docs here.

Within the ProxyConfigurationOptions object in which you provide the Apify.createProxyConfiguration() method, there is an option named proxyUrls. This is simply an array of custom proxy URLs which will be rotated. Though it is an array, you can still pass only one proxy URL.

Pass your proxy URL with authentication details into this array, then pass the proxyConfiguration into the options of PuppeteerCrawler, and your proxy will be used by the crawler.

const Apify = require('apify');

const proxy = 'http://my.proxy.com:3001';
const username = 'jimmy49';
const password = 'password123';

Apify.main(async () => {
    const requestList = await Apify.openRequestList([{ url: 'https://google.com' }]);

    // Pass authenticated proxy URL into proxyUrls
    const proxyConfiguration = await Apify.createProxyConfiguration({ proxyUrls: [`http://${username}:${password}@${proxy}`] });

    const crawler = new Apify.PuppeteerCrawler({
        requestList,
        requestQueue,
        // Pass proxyConfiguration into the crawler
        proxyConfiguration,
        handlePageFunction: async ({ page }) => {
            const title = await page.title();
            console.log(title);
        },
    });

    await crawler.run();
});

The massive advantage of using the Apify SDK for proxies as opposed to the first method is that multiple different custom proxies can be inputted, and the rotation of them will be automatically handled.

4. Setting the Proxy-Authorization header

If all else fails, setting the Proxy-Authorization header for each of your crawler's requests is an option; however, it does have its setbacks. This method only works with HTTP websites, and not HTTPS websites.

Similarly to the first method, the proxy URL needs to be passed into the --proxy-server flag within args. The second step is to set an extra auth header on the page object using the setExtraHTTPHeaders() method.

const puppeteer = require('puppeteer');

const proxy = 'http://my.proxy.com:3001';
const username = 'jimmy49';
const password = 'password123';

(async () => {
    // Pass proxy URL into the --proxy-server arg
    const browser = await puppeteer.launch({
        args: [`--proxy-server=${proxy}`],
    });

    const page = await browser.newPage()

    // Pass in our base64 encoded username and password
    await page.setExtraHTTPHeaders({
    'Proxy-Authorization': 'Basic ' + Buffer.from(`${username}:${password}`).toString('base64'),
});

    await page.goto('https://www.google.com');

    await browser.close();
})();

It is important to note that your authorization details must be base64 encoded. This can be done with the Buffer class in Node.js.

Once again, this method only works for HTTP websites, not HTTPS websites.

A bit about proxies

Proxies have many uses, but in the scraping and automation world, one of the biggest reasons to use them is to deal with the various protections that certain sites may deploy. For example, some sites are able to detect whether or not an IP address is coming from a server or from a genuine human being on their computer/phone, then block the request from the server. Certain proxies can be a lifesaver in these situations, as they can make bots appear human and never get blocked. Learn more about this topic here.

If you’re looking for a proxy for web scraping or web automation purposes, make sure to check out Apify Proxy, an HTTP proxy service that gives you access to a large pool of datacenter and residential IP addresses, monitors the health of the IP pool, and intelligently rotates the IPs.



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