Introduction: Use Google As a Proxy

About: A programmer ever since I laid my hands on a TRS-80 writing BASIC programs like mad-libs in 1990. Goes back to 1984 if you count my trance-like state induced by a PET computer. Now I get paid to do it. What…
Google has enhanced our lives in all sorts of ways, with voice apps, mail, maps, and so on.  But they also do the more mundane, such as Google Translate.

I've found that you can use Google Translate as a sort of lazy man's proxy/filter avoidance.  Where I work, we've got a web content filtering tool that, for the most part, blocks inappropriate content, but is most certainly not immune to false positives -- blocking stuff that's not in any way objectionable.  Maybe it's blocking on something as stupid as a word found in a URL, say, if you wanted to learn about some birds.  In my case, I was looking for some technical discussions related to my work, but my employer's network filtering app told me (erroneously) that it was a gambling site.

Step 1: Visit Google Translate

Go to and try feeding it  You might try translating from English to Spanish and you'll see this page.  I don't speak Spanish very well, so I can't tell  you how poorly this might be translated.  But point of fact:  I don't want or need the Spanish translation.  So now I suggest you instead click the radio button in the upper-right labeled "Original" which will lead you here.

Step 2: What Have We Accomplished?

Of course we didn't really seem to accomplish anything  by asking a translation service to not translate a webpage.  But in truth, some of the content was proxied through Google's Translate service.  Using the Firebug Extension for Firefox, I was able to see that the request to see the front page of through Google Translate resulted in 26 HTTP requests, and only 3 of them were sent directly to (2 for JS, 1 for CSS).  So, this isn't a bulletproof method of avoiding ALL requests to the "translated" domain, but most of the content did indeed go through Google's translation services.

But can we make it a bit easier to automate the usage of this tool?  Maybe a little bookmarklet?

Step 3: The Handy Bookmarklet

I admit my bias to using FIrefox.  I don't know whether this works in IE.  However, we can create a "bookmarklet" using Javascript.  My code is as follows:


Create a new bookmark on your bookmark toolbar, and in the "Location" field, paste the javascript code seen above.  Give it whatever name you wish.  Once you click on it, you should be prompted to enter the URL you want to view.

Step 4: The Caveats: Not a 100% Perfect Proxy.

As I mentioned in Step 2, this isn't a perfect proxy.  You can see that some style and script requests went through to the original website.  If you really, really wanted to, you could put the original site in a hosts file pointed to on your Windows PC, but that's beyond the scope of this Instructable, and wouldn't account for changes on the originating site, such as moving scripts and styles to a subdomain or other related site that is also blocked.

I must emphasize that since this isn't a bulletproof solution to getting around filtering, it's wise not to use this to access content that you're really not supposed to get to, especially if you've got parents, administrators or employers looking through their filtering/proxying logs.  If you really want to visit or a taste of the original Hamster Dance, you'll have to do it on your own time from home.