How to: Use Tor for Windows

This guide outlines how to use Tor Browser on Microsoft Windows.

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.

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 other web browsers, except that it 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 Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Edge and go to:

https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser.html.en

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 large Download button, or scroll down to the Tor Browser Downloads section. Click on your desired language and OS version (Windows 32/64-bit).

Some browsers will ask you to confirm whether you want to download this file. Internet Explorer 11 shows a bar at the bottom of the browser window. For any browser, it is best to save the file first before proceeding. Click the Save button.

This example shows Tor Browser version 5.0.3 which is the current version at the time of writing this guide. There may be a more recent version of Tor Browser available for download by the time you read this, so please download and use the current version that Tor Project provides.

Installing Tor Browser Anchor link

After the download is complete, you might get an option to open the folder where the file was downloaded to. The default location is the Downloads folder. Double-click on the file “torbrowser-install-5.0.3_en-US.exe”.

After double-clicking on the Tor Browser installer, 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, go ahead and click Run.

A small window will open asking what language you want to use for the Tor Browser. There are several to choose from. Pick the language you want and click the OK button.

You'll find a new window that will tell you where the Tor Browser will be installed. The default location is your desktop. You can change this to be a different location if you want, but for now keep the default.

The installation process is complete when you see a window that says you have completed the installation process. If you click the Finish button, the Tor Browser will start immediately and “Start Tor Browser” shortcuts will be added to the Start Menu and Desktop.

Using Tor Browser Anchor link

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 try to connect to the Tor network by clicking the Connect button.

A new window will open with a green bar that illustrates Tor Browser connecting to the Tor network.

The first time Tor Browser starts it might take a bit longer than usual; but be patient, within a minute or two Tor Browser will open and congratulating 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.

Last reviewed: 
2015-11-04
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