How to Record a Charles Proxy

How to Record a Charles Proxy

Utilizing web proxy tools is a powerful way to capture the information needed to accurately assess and debug site issues. Charles Web Debugging Proxy allows you to view and record all of the traffic between your computer and the internet –  including ad requests. A Charles session can help Freestar Support expedite tracking down any unusual behavior or harmful ads on your site and blocking them. Here is how to capture a web session using Charles:

Capture a Charles Session  

  1. Download and install Charles Web Debugging Proxy. Drag into your Applications folder or desired location. 
  2. Open and run Charles from the location you have installed the software.
    * If you are downloading a newer version of Charles you will be prompted to have Charles setup your Network settings for you to enable proxying. Click allow. 
  3. Once Charles is running, open your browser and go to the URL in question. Make sure “Recording” is turned on.
  4. Go back to the Charles application on your desktop and you should see all the traffic and activity that occurred on site.
  5. Go to File > Export. Choose Export XML Session or Charles Trace file as the file format.  



Proxying with SSL

If the site you are looking to capture a Charles session on is HTTPS there are a few additional steps you need to follow to accurately capture the traffic. With SSL Charles acts as a “man-in-the-middle” HTTPS proxy by generating its own certificate for the server that then gets sent to the browser. The communication from Server > Charles > Browser remains encrypted.

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 as stated above.
  2. Once Charles in installed, you must specifically identify inside of Charles the host names you want to enable SSL Proxying on in Proxy Setting > SSL. You can also right click on a specific host name in your view from a previous session and turn on or off SSL Proxying.
  3. If you want to SSL Proxy ALL host names enter * into the host names list in SSL Proxy Settings.
  4. Next, trust and install the Charle’s SSL Certificate for your specific browser. Detailed instructions by browser can be found here.
  5. Restart Charles for existing browser sessions to change.
  6. Record and export a Charles Session as normal.

Proxying Mobile Traffic

If you are seeing issues on a mobile site you can configure Charles to capture a mobile browser session using the steps below.

  1. After installing Charles, locate your IP address from your desktop or laptop computer.
  2. Tell your mobile device your computer’s IP address by going to Settings > Wi-Fi and select your Wi-Fi network. From here:

    iOS
    1. Under “HTTP Proxy” select the Manual button.
    2. Enter the IP Address from Step 1 in the “Server” field.
    3. Enter 8888 in the “Port” field.
    4. Close out.

    Android
    1. Click “Show Advanced options”.
    2. Under “Proxy Settings”, select the manual option and enter the IP address from Step one in “Proxy hostname”.
    3. Enter 8888 in the “Proxy Port” field.
    4. Save.

  3. Set up SSL if applicable. Use steps from above entering * in the “Host” field and leaving the “Port” field blank so Charles can capture all traffic from any domain on your mobile device. Click OK.
  4. Install the Charles Certificate on your computer using the guide from Step 4 above. 
  5. Once this is done on your computer, go to http:///www.charlesproxy.com/getssl in your mobile browser and download and install the machine certificate to your mobile device.
  6. Start capturing Charles Sessions from your mobile device. You may receive an alert asking you to allow your mobile device to connect. Select Allow.
  7. When you are finished proxying from your mobile device, turn off your proxy settings by reversing Step 2 and setting your proxy back to none.

If you are currently a Freestar partner and have a Charles Session recorded of an ad related issue on your site,  please send the exported Charles Session to adquality@freestar.io.

Author


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Paige Owen

Paige Owen is Director of Digital Marketing at Freestar.