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Fake Referer for Testing

curl is a great tool for QA

This is a sample QA task that I had many years ago:

A customer website wanted to acknowledge a particular set of users that found the website via a link on a partner site. They wanted me to test that users from one website saw one version of the site and everyone else got the typical content.

To perform this task, I used the Unix curl tool to get the job done.


This "hack" is useful when you want to fake a referer from a particular website, you can "dump" the results as an HTML file to verify the results was a success. It also helps if you have access to the apache logs to verify the referer was pass through.

CURL Config File


curl --config test.txt


In the config file:

# --- Example file ---
url = ""
output = "cia.html"
referer = "" -
user-agent = "superagent/1.0"
# and fetch another URL too
url ="
output = "yahoo.html"
referer = ""
# and fetch another URL too
url = ""
output = "bing.html"
referer = ""

Sample Output

This is what you see when you run the command:

curl --config sample.txt
% Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100 10813    0 10813    0     0  35677      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 35686
100   315  100   315    0     0   3924      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--  3924
100   311  100   311    0     0   3905      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--  3905

Learn More

You can learn more cool tricks with CURL on the "man" page: curl - How To Use



Weekly Tips and tricks for Quality Assurance engineers and managers. All reviews are unbiased and are based on personal use. No money or services were exchanged for the reviews posted.


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