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Whenever we run a “software bargains” roundup in Macworld—for example, the Software Jackpot feature in the August 2006 issue—we receive a deluge of comments to the effect of, “Why didn’t you include [insert product name here]?” The most common answer we supply is that these roundups are never exhaustive—we can’t include every product out there, so we cover what we feel is a good collection of great software for low prices (or, in the case of the Software Jackpot feature, a collection of the highest-rated Mac Gems we’ve reviewed). Another reason a product isn’t included may be that we’ve already included it in a previous roundup.
But there are a few pieces of software we don’t cover because we just don’t have the opportunity to test them. For whatever reason—we don’t have the necessary network arrangement, for example—the problem that a product is designed to solve simply doesn’t exist for us. Such is the case with HRSoftWorks’ Authoxy 3.2.5 ($10; students, $5; site license, $120).
You see, certain networks require that you authenticate—send a name and password—to a local proxy server in order to access the Internet. Unfortunately, many Mac OS X users have found that certain applications (for example, iTunes, Mac Help, QuickTime, and Sherlock) or even specific features of Mac OS X (for example, .Mac synchronization) don’t work properly when using a proxy due to authentication problems. Authoxy attempts to fix these problems by setting up another proxy server, this one on your own Mac, which intercepts HTTP and HTTPS requests and then forwards them to your actual proxy server along with the proper name and password.
We don’t use proxies here at Macworld , so I can’t test Authoxy myself. However, I did install on my own machine to see how it works, and it appears to be simple to set up. You just enter your proxy authentication details (username and password), along with your proxy server’s address and port number, in the Authoxy preference pane, and then click the Start Authoxy button. You then need to modify OS X’s Network preferences slightly, as described in Authoxy’s documentation, to use the local Authoxy proxy. After that, Authoxy works transparently in the background. (If you want Authoxy to start automatically whenever you log in, you can add the startAuthoxy application, installed in /Applications by default, to your Login Items list in Accounts preferences.)
Authoxy has a few additional features that will be useful to some users: NTLM authentication offers unofficial compatibility with Microsoft Proxy and ISA servers; you can automatically configure Authoxy using a PAC file; and you can view error and status messages from within the Authoxy preference pane.
Does Authoxy work? I’ve received a number of glowing reports from readers singing the utility’s praises. For example, reader Michael Tennes wrote:
In your Internet and Networking section of the Software Jackpot article you didn’t mention Authoxy. If you’re a user behind a proxy server that requires authentication this utility is an absolute necessity to have dot Mac synchronization, iTunes an[d] many other non-proxy aware Apple utilities work at all. This is a five star application that’s a bargain at twice the price!
Other reader feedback has been similarly enthusiastic—Authoxy sure sounds like a Mac Gem! If your computer is behind a proxy server and you have trouble using applications’ Internet-related features, give it a try.
Authoxy works with Mac OS X 10.3 or higher, or Mac OS X 10.2.x with the BSD subsystem installed, and is a Universal binary.
Update 9/26/06: Added information about modifying OS X’s Network settings to use Authoxy.