How to Circumvent Internet Censorship with Tor

By Morteza Mirmojarabian on 6/16/2018
Tor logo

Tor (The Onion Router) is free software for enabling anonymous communication. It has been praised for providing privacy and anonymity to vulnerable Internet users such as political activists fearing surveillance and arrest, ordinary web users seeking to circumvent censorship, and people who have been threatened with violence or abuse by stalkers. The Tor software is maintained and developed by the Tor Project, which is a US non-profit organization.

Now let's see how to use Tor on different operating systems.

Tor on Windows

  1. Download the Tor Browser for Windows.
  2. Install and save it to your desktop.
  3. When the installation is complete and you see the Tor Browser wizard, click Connect.
  4. Once you connect to the Tor network, the Tor Browser automatically opens. Enjoy browsing the Internet freely and anonymously!
Tor Browser wizard

Tor Browser wizard

Tor Browser welcome screen

Tor on macOS

  1. Download the Tor Browser for macOS.
  2. Double-click the DMG file to open it.
  3. Drag the included file into your Applications folder and you will have a Tor Browser application in your chosen language that you can pin on your Dock.
Tor Browser on macOS

Tor on Linux

  1. Download the architecture-appropriate Tor Browser for Linux.
  2. Run one of the following two commands to extract the package archive, where VERSION is the Tor Browser version (e.g. 7.5.4), and LANGUAGE is the language listed in the filename (e.g. en-US):
    • tar -xvJf tor-browser-linux64-VERSION_LANGUAGE.tar.xz (for the 64-bit version)
    • tar -xvJf tor-browser-linux32-VERSION_LANGUAGE.tar.xz (for the 32-bit version)
  3. Switch to the Tor Browser directory by running: cd tor-browser_LANGUAGE
  4. Double-click either the Tor Browser or the Tor Browser Setup icon, or execute the start-tor-browser.desktop file in a terminal: ./start-tor-browser.desktop

This will launch the Tor Launcher and once that connects to Tor, it will launch Firefox.

Note: Do not unpack or run the Tor Browser as root.


Tor on Android

  1. Open the Play Store app.
  2. Search for Orbot and install it.
  3. Open Orbot.
  4. Turn on VPN Mode. It enables all apps on your device to run through the Tor network using the VPN feature of Android.
  5. Tap Start. Orbot turns green once it connects to Tor.
Orbot on Google Play

Orbot on Google Play

Orbot bootstrapped 100%

FAQ

Where else can I get the Tor software?

Download it from GitHub or send a blank email to gettor@torproject.org.


Is the Tor Browser portable?

The Tor Browser lets you use Tor on Windows, macOS and Linux without needing to install any software. It can run off a USB drive, comes with a pre-configured web browser to protect your anonymity, and is self-contained (portable). All you need to do is choose your USB drive as the destination folder during the installation. You might also want to use Tails, a live operating system designed to be used from a flash drive or a DVD independently of the computer's original operating system. It routes all your Internet traffic through Tor.


I installed the Tor Browser, but it does not connect to the Tor network.

If direct access to the Tor network is blocked by your Internet Service Provider or country, follow these instructions:

  1. Click Configure on the Tor Browser wizard.
  2. Select Tor is censored in my country.
  3. Select a bridge, e.g. obfs4.
  4. Click Connect.

If none of the built-in bridges works:

  1. Get a bridge form BridgeDB. Alternatively you can send a blank email to bridges@torproject.org from a Gmail or Yahoo! account.
  2. Enter the bridge information under Provide a bridge I know.
Insert a custom bridge

To learn more, see Troubleshooting.


The Tor Browser works perfectly, but how can I run other applications through Tor?

You can easily configure the proxy settings of any application for use with Tor and thus the Tor network. Just direct the application's traffic to a SOCKS proxy at 127.0.0.1:9150. Here is how to "torify" Telegram Desktop and Chrome on Windows, for example.

Note: Keep the Tor Browser open or your torified applications cannot access Tor.

  • Telegram Desktop
    1. Launch Telegram Desktop.
    2. Click Menu > Settings.
    3. Click Connection type.
    4. Select Use proxy.
    5. Set the Hostname and Port values as follows and save:
      • Hostname: 127.0.0.1
      • Port: 9150
Telegram proxy settings
  • Chrome
    1. Launch Chrome.
    2. Go to the Proxy SwitchyOmega page on the Chrome Web Store. It is an extension for managing and switching between multiple proxies. You can also download it as a CRX file from GitHub for offline installation.
    3. Click Add to Chrome > Add extension.
    4. Click Skip guide on the welcome screen.
    5. Go to the Import/Export tab.
    6. Insert the following URL under Restore from online: https://mori79.github.io/howtos/switchy.bak
    7. Click Restore. Now to use the extension, click its icon to the right of Chrome's address bar and it changes color:
      • Gray: No proxy
      • Green: Tor
      • Black: System proxy
Proxy SwitchyOmega

How can I make sure my browser is using Tor?

Visit Tor Check. It also provides you with information such as your new IP address.

Tor Check

How can I enable specific apps to run through Tor on Android?

Instead of using the VPN mode, you can torify a particular app as long as it has a proxy feature. Just change the app's proxy settings to either of the following:

  • SOCKS proxy 127.0.0.1:9050
  • HTTP proxy 127.0.0.1:8118

The Telegram and Twitter apps, for example, can be Tor-enabled.

Note: Keep Orbot open or your torified apps cannot access Tor.

  • Telegram
    1. Open the Telegram app.
    2. Tap Menu > Settings.
    3. Tap Data and Storage > Proxy Settings > Add Proxy.
    4. Set the Server and Port values as follows and save:
      • Server: 127.0.0.1
      • Port: 9050
    5. Turn on Use proxy settings.
Telegram proxy settings
  • Twitter
    1. Open the Twitter app.
    2. Tap Menu > Settings and privacy.
    3. Tap Proxy.
    4. Set the Proxy Host and Proxy Port values as follows:
      • Proxy Host: 127.0.0.1
      • Proxy Port: 8118
    5. Check Enable HTTP Proxy.
Twitter proxy settings

How can I use Tor on iOS?

Currently, there is no official version of Tor for iOS; the Guardian Project is working to make this a reality in the future.


See also

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