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6. Privoxy Configuration

All Privoxy configuration is stored in text files. These files can be edited with a text editor. Many important aspects of Privoxy can also be controlled easily with a web browser.

6.1. Controlling Privoxy with Your Web Browser

Privoxy's user interface can be reached through the special URL (shortcut: http://p.p/), which is a built-in page and works without Internet access. You will see the following section:


    Privoxy Menu

        ▪  View & change the current configuration
        ▪  View the source code version numbers
        ▪  View the request headers.
        ▪  Look up which actions apply to a URL and why
        ▪  Toggle Privoxy on or off
        ▪  Documentation

This should be self-explanatory. Note the first item leads to an editor for the actions files, which is where the ad, banner, cookie, and URL blocking magic is configured as well as other advanced features of Privoxy. This is an easy way to adjust various aspects of Privoxy configuration. The actions file, and other configuration files, are explained in detail below.

"Toggle Privoxy On or Off" is handy for sites that might have problems with your current actions and filters. You can in fact use it as a test to see whether it is Privoxy causing the problem or not. Privoxy continues to run as a proxy in this case, but all manipulation is disabled, i.e. Privoxy acts like a normal forwarding proxy. There is even a toggle Bookmarklet offered, so that you can toggle Privoxy with one click from your browser.

6.2. Configuration Files Overview

For Unix, *BSD and Linux, all configuration files are located in /etc/privoxy/ by default. For MS Windows, OS/2, and AmigaOS these are all in the same directory as the Privoxy executable.

The installed defaults provide a reasonable starting point, though some settings may be aggressive by some standards. For the time being, the principle configuration files are:

  • The main configuration file is named config on Linux, Unix, BSD, OS/2, and AmigaOS and config.txt on Windows. This is a required file.

  • default.action (the main actions file) is used to define which "actions" relating to banner-blocking, images, pop-ups, content modification, cookie handling etc should be applied by default. It also defines many exceptions (both positive and negative) from this default set of actions that enable Privoxy to selectively eliminate the junk, and only the junk, on as many websites as possible.

    Multiple actions files may be defined in config. These are processed in the order they are defined. Local customizations and locally preferred exceptions to the default policies as defined in default.action (which you will most probably want to define sooner or later) are probably best applied in user.action, where you can preserve them across upgrades. standard.action is for Privoxy's internal use.

    There is also a web based editor that can be accessed from (Shortcut: http://p.p/show-status) for the various actions files.

  • default.filter (the filter file) can be used to re-write the raw page content, including viewable text as well as embedded HTML and JavaScript, and whatever else lurks on any given web page. The filtering jobs are only pre-defined here; whether to apply them or not is up to the actions files.

All files use the "#" character to denote a comment (the rest of the line will be ignored) and understand line continuation through placing a backslash ("\") as the very last character in a line. If the # is preceded by a backslash, it looses its special function. Placing a # in front of an otherwise valid configuration line to prevent it from being interpreted is called "commenting out" that line.

The actions files and default.filter can use Perl style regular expressions for maximum flexibility.

After making any changes, there is no need to restart Privoxy in order for the changes to take effect. Privoxy detects such changes automatically. Note, however, that it may take one or two additional requests for the change to take effect. When changing the listening address of Privoxy, these "wake up" requests must obviously be sent to the old listening address.