Force MSN Messenger to Use a Proxy

December 30, 2011 by Noah
For anybody wanting to know how to do this, it's possible to force Windows Live Messenger to obey your proxy settings.

In my case I wanted MSN 2011 to connect using a socks proxy (using SSH port forwarding to use an SSH tunnel as SOCKS 5 proxy).

To set the proxy settings, go to the "Connection" page in the preferences of MSN Messenger, click Advanced Settings and enter your proxy details.

The problem is, MSN will only use your proxy settings if it can't normally connect to MSN without them (i.e. if your default TCP internet connection will work, MSN will always use that instead of your proxy settings). This is how you can force MSN to use the proxy settings.

You have to block MSN from being able to connect to its authentication servers without the proxy. To do this, we have to tamper with the Hosts file.

The Hosts file on Windows is kept at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts (note that it doesn't have a file extension). Open this in a text editor like Notepad or the edit command in Command Prompt (I prefer the latter approach because you can open a Command Prompt window as Administrator and then editing the file is a snap without having to deal with permission issues when saving changes).

Add these lines to the Hosts file:
And then restart MSN and it should have difficulty connecting without the proxy settings (if using a SOCKS proxy, attempt to sign into MSN before you open the proxy to be sure that it fails to connect. Then start the proxy and see that it successfully signs in).

This works by routing all the MSN Messenger hostnames to the loopback address and blocks MSN from being able to authenticate. But with the SOCKS proxy, it can connect because it would do the DNS lookups from the SSH server instead of the local system.

Hope this helps someone!



There are 9 comments on this page. Add yours.

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Frank Lin posted on February 1, 2012 @ 02:44 UTC

It really helps!! Let me try the solution on my network.

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Frank Lin posted on February 1, 2012 @ 03:20 UTC

Still failed in my network.

MSN just connect to public IP directly, even if I added the entries into hosts AND remove the DNS server setting in local pc. It looks that MSN buildin the pulbic IP of their servers or cached the resolved IP already.

It is really a headache problem.

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hamza posted on June 20, 2012 @ 00:04 UTC


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Idd posted on February 22, 2013 @ 14:59 UTC

Indeed I can't either block MSN just by adding those lines in the hosts file.

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Ebs Sixtynine posted on March 28, 2013 @ 12:25 UTC

Has anybody got a WORKING update for this..ive got WLM9 build 14 from uk.. which does seem to be working at all when u at those above details in the host file.. seems china transparent or anon proxies aint no use to this

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sjgahgsajl posted on April 26, 2013 @ 22:23 UTC

I tried the instructions above, but the fields where I'm supposed to type in the proxy IP and port are disabled and it's not possible to type in anything there. Any suggestion on how to fix this?

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gringoow posted on May 2, 2013 @ 07:43 UTC

This is really works. Thakns for post.

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GuenosNoLife posted on May 2, 2013 @ 12:58 UTC

You can use MSN 8.5 with 10 mb ram (sur xp 6 mb ram), without proxies or edit host :

Or download direct :

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Akaash posted on June 8, 2013 @ 18:44 UTC

how do you open a hosts file sort of thing?

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