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How to: Use Tor for Windows

Last Reviewed: July 10, 2023

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

Computer requirements:  An internet connection, a computer running Windows 10 or higher

Versions used in this guide: Windows 11 Home, Tor Browser 12.5

License: Free Software ; mix of Free Software licenses

Other reading:

Level: Beginner-Intermediate

Time required: 15-30 minutes

What is Tor? anchor link

Tor is a volunteer-run service that provides both privacy and anonymity online by masking who you are and from 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, the Tor Browser provides a quick and easy way to use the Tor network.

The Tor Browser works just like a regular 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 anonymous things you do on the same computer using other software (such as your regular web browser). But there are steps you can take to protect that data too, if needed.

Getting Tor Browser anchor link

Open a browser like Firefox, Chrome, or Microsoft Edge and go to:

If you are using a search engine to look for the Tor Browser, make sure that the URL is correct.

Only download Tor from the official website, and if you are prompted to accept alternative HTTPS (SSL/TLS) security certificates, do not proceed.

Select the "Download for Windows" icon:

Some browsers will ask you to confirm whether you want to download this file, otherwise it should automatically download the application.

This example shows Tor Browser version 12.5, 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. The default location is the "Downloads" folder.

Double-click on the file “torbrowser-install-win64-12.5_ALL.exe”.

After double-clicking on the Tor Browser installer, a window may 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 this software is legitimate and the download was from the Tor Project's secure HTTPS site, click “Run,” then choose your language, and click "OK."

A window will ask where to install the Tor Browser. 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. You might have to come back and change some configuration settings later, but for now go ahead and try to connect to the Tor network by clicking the “Connect” button.

If Tor is blocked for you, the "Connection Assist" feature helps you choose a “bridge” using your location.

The first time Tor Browser starts, it might take a long time. Be patient, within a minute or two Tor Browser will connect.

You will be greeted by the welcome screen. Click on the purple onion icon in the upper left corner to review a tutorial on how Tor works.

The tutorial explains how Tor circuits work and how they allow you to browse privately online.

The Tor Browser's default security level will block many known privacy and security issues found in other web browsers. For example, it uses an HTTPS-only mode and NoScript by default. You can also crank up the security further if needed.

Click the shield icon in the top right corner, then click "Settings," and you're taken to the "Privacy & Security" settings. Changing Tor's "Security Level" to its "Safest" setting disables a variety of website features that can potentially be used against you. 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, the "Safest" setting can make some websites unusable. The default "Standard" setting is fine for everyday privacy protection, but you can set it to "Safest" if you are worried about sophisticated attackers, or if you don't mind if some websites do not display correctly. You can get more information about each security level here.

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

You are now ready to browse the internet anonymously with the Tor Browser.