How to: Use Tor on macOS

This guide outlines how to use the Tor Browser on macOS.

What is Tor? Anchor link

Tor is a volunteer-run service that provides both privacy and anonymity online by masking who you are and where you are connecting. The service also protects you from the Tor network itself—you can have good assurance that you’ll remain anonymous to other Tor users.

For people who might need occasional anonymity and privacy when accessing websites, Tor Browser provides a quick and easy way to use the Tor network.

The Tor Browser works just like a web browser. Web browsers are programs you use to view web sites. Examples include Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Unlike other web browsers, though, the Tor Browser sends your communications through Tor, making it harder for people who are monitoring you to know exactly what you're doing online, and harder for people monitoring the sites you use to know where you're connecting from.

Keep in mind that only activities you do inside of Tor Browser itself will be anonymized. Having Tor Browser installed on your computer does not make things you do on the same computer using other software (such as your regular web browser) anonymous.

Getting Tor Browser Anchor link

Open a browser like Firefox or Safari and type:

https://www.torproject.org/download/download-easy.html.en in the URL bar. If you are using a search engine to look for the Tor Browser, make sure that the URL is correct.

Do not use any other source, and if you are prompted to accept alternative HTTPS (SSL/TLS) security certificates, do not proceed.

Click the big purple download button to get the installation program for Tor Browser.

The website will have detected your operating system and you'll get the correct file for macOS. If this fails you can click the link to the side of the purple button to download the correct version.

If you are using Safari, the Tor Browser will start to download. In Firefox you will be asked whether you wish to open or save the file. It is always best to save the file, so click the Save button. This example shows Tor Browser Version 7.0.2, which was the most current version at the time this guide was published. There may be a more recent version available for download by the time you read this.

Installing Tor Browser Anchor link

After the download is complete, you might get an option to open the folder where the file was downloaded. The default location is the Downloads folder. Double-click on the file TorBrowser-7.0.2-osx64_en-US.dmg

MacOS will now verify that the application hasn’t been tampered with.

Next, a window will open asking you to install Tor Browser by dragging it to your applications folder. You may do so now.

Tor Browser is now installed in your applications folder.

Using Tor Browser Anchor link

To open Tor Browser for the first time, locate it in the Applications folder or in launchpad.

After clicking on the Tor Browser icon, a window will open with a warning about the origin of the software. You should always take these warnings seriously and make sure you trust the software you want to install and that you got an authentic copy from the official site over a secure connection. Since you know what you want, and you know where to get the software, and the download was from the Tor Project's secure HTTPS site, click Open.

The first time Tor Browser starts, you'll get a window that allows you to modify some settings if necessary. You might have to come back and change some configuration settings, but go ahead and connect to the Tor network by clicking the Connect button.

After clicking Connect, a new window will open with a green bar that will get longer as the Tor software starts up.

The first time Tor Browser starts, it might take a long time; but be patient, within a minute or two Tor Browser will open and congratulate you.

Click on the Tor Onion logo in the upper left of Tor Browser then the Privacy and Security Settings.

Some features of a normal web browser can make you vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Other features have previously had bugs in them that revealed users' identities. Turning the security slider to a high setting disables these features. This will make you safer from well-funded attackers who can interfere with your Internet connection or use new unknown bugs in these features. Unfortunately, turning off these features can make some websites unusable. The default low setting is fine for everyday privacy protection, but you can set it to high if you are worried about sophisticated attackers, or if you don't mind if some websites do not display correctly.

Finally, browsing with Tor is different in some ways from the normal browsing experience. We recommended reading these tips for properly browsing with Tor and retaining your anonymity.

You are now ready to browse the Internet anonymously with Tor.

Last reviewed: 
2017-09-05
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