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About this OnionShare Page
Support Status stable
Difficulty easy
Maintainer mig5
Support Support


OnionShare is an open source program that allows a file of any size to be shared securely and anonymously using the Tor network. [1] The OnionShare wiki succinctly describes the design: [2]

It works by starting a web server, making it accessible as a Tor Onion Service, and generating an unguessable URL to access and download the files. It does not require setting up a separate server or using a third party file-sharing service. You host the files on your own computer and use a Tor Onion Service to make it temporarily accessible over the internet. The receiving user just needs to open the URL in Tor Browser to download the file.

At the time of writing, the OnionShare package is not packaged in Debian stretch. [3] For these reasons, the following instructions use the most recent version available from GitHub. Advanced users may prefer to use APT pinning to install the version from Debian buster instead.

Install OnionShare[edit]

1. Optional: Create a separate Whonix-Workstation (Qubes-Whonix: anon-onionshare AppVM).

Note: This is not strictly necessary, but best practice is to separate anonymous activities of a different nature in distinct VMs (AppVMs). [4]

In Qubes-Whonix, to clone the existing anon-whonix:

Qube Manager -> Right-click on anon-vm -> Select "Clone qube" -> Rename to "anon-onionshare"

2. Install git in Whonix-Workstation (anon-onionshare).

Open a terminal (Konsole) in Whonix-Workstation (anon-onionshare) and navigate to the persistent home directory.

cd /home/user

Next install git which is not available by default in the VM (AppVM). [5]

sudo apt-get install git

3. Clone the OnionShare directory.

This will pull the OnionShare source code directly from GitHub.

git clone

Next navigate to the OnionShare directory.

cd onionshare

4. Retrieve the OnionShare PGP signing key.

This step retrieves the OnionShare developer's PGP key using its long key ID. [6]

gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 0x927F419D7EC82C2F149C1BD1403C2657CD994F73

5. Examine and verify the git tags and commit.

These steps list the available git tags, and verifies the latest version and its commit (v1.3.1 at the time of writing).

git tag

git verify-tag v1.3.1

git verify-commit v1.3.1^{commit}

Qubes-Whonix users should shut down anon-onionshare prior to the next step.

6. Install OnionShare dependencies.

Several dependencies must be installed in Whonix-Workstation (whonix-ws-14 TemplateVM) for OnionShare to work correctly. Locate the file in the OnionShare repository and run the necessary apt-get commands in the "Debian-like distros" section.

For example, for OnionShare 1.3.1 run in a terminal (Konsole).

sudo apt install -y build-essential fakeroot python3-all python3-stdeb dh-python python3-flask python3-stem python3-pyqt5 python-nautilus python3-pytest obfs4proxy

Qubes-Whonix users should shutdown the whonix-ws-14 TemplateVM after dependencies have installed, and restart the anon-onionshare AppVM.

7. Extend the onion-grater whitelist in Whonix-Gateway (sys-whonix).

Extend onion-grater Whitelist

On Whonix-Gateway.

Create a new directory. [7]

sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/onion-grater-merger.d/

Symlink the onion-grater profile to the onion-grater settings folder.

sudo ln -s /usr/share/onion-grater-merger/examples/40_onionshare.yml /usr/local/etc/onion-grater-merger.d/

Restart onion-grater.

sudo service onion-grater restart

8. Modify the Whonix-Workstation (anon-onionshare) user firewall settings and reload theme.

Modify Whonix-Workstation User Firewall Settings

Note: If no changes have yet been made to Whonix Firewall Settings, then the Whonix User Firewall Settings File /etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf appears empty (because it does not exist). This is expected.

If using Qubes-Whonix, complete these steps.
In Whonix-Workstation AppVM.

Make sure folder /rw/config/whonix_firewall.d exists.

sudo mkdir -p /rw/config/whonix_firewall.d

Open /rw/config/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf with root rights.

kdesudo kwrite /rw/config/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf

If using a graphical Whonix-Workstation, complete these steps.

Start Menu -> Applications -> Settings -> User Firewall Settings

If using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation, complete these steps.

sudo nano /etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf

For more help, press on Expand on the right.

Note: The Whonix Global Firewall Settings File /etc/whonix_firewall.d/30_default.conf contains default settings and explanatory comments about their purpose. By default, the file is opened read-only and is not meant to be directly edited. Below, it is recommended to open the file without root rights. The file contains an explanatory comment on how to change firewall settings.

## Please use "/etc/whonix_firewall.d/50_user.conf" for your custom configuration,
## which will override the defaults found here. When Whonix is updated, this
## file may be overwritten.

See also Whonix modular flexible .d style configuration folders.

To view the file, follow these instructions.

If using Qubes-Whonix, complete these steps.

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q") -> Template: whonix-ws-14 -> Whonix Global Firewall Settings

If using a graphical Whonix-Workstation, complete these steps.

Start Menu -> Applications -> Settings -> Global Firewall Settings

If using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation, complete these steps.

nano /etc/whonix_firewall.d/30_default.conf

Add. [8]

EXTERNAL_OPEN_PORTS+=" $(seq 17600 17659) "


Reload Whonix-Workstation Firewall.

If you are using Qubes-Whonix, complete the following steps.

Qubes App Launcher (blue/grey "Q") -> Whonix-Workstation AppVM (commonly named anon-whonix) -> Reload Whonix Firewall

If you are using a graphical Whonix-Workstation, complete the following steps.

Start Menu -> Applications -> System -> Reload Whonix Firewall

If you are using a terminal-only Whonix-Workstation, run.

sudo whonix_firewall

Start OnionShare[edit]

To start OnionShare in Whonix-Workstation (anon-onionshare) first navigate to the OnionShare folder.

cd onionshare

Then either run the command line interface or GUI version, depending on your preference.



Advanced users can also build an OnionShare package to install. [9] [10]

OnionShare Configuration[edit]

On the first run of OnionShare:

  • Select the settings button/icon (cog symbol) in the GUI.
  • Under “How should OnionShare connect to Tor?” choose “Connect using socket file”, and set the socket file to /var/run/tor/control
  • Under “Tor authentication options” choose “No authentication, or cookie authentication”.

To test OnionShare is running correctly:

  • Click the “Test Settings” button. If all steps were completed correctly, Tor will successfully connect.
  • The GUI should say it supports both ephemeral onion services and stealth onion services.
  • Check “Create stealth onion services” to make OnionShare operations more secure.
    • Note: Using Stealth mode makes it harder for the end user to connect to the share, because they must first edit their torrc file. Please see the official documentation for further information.

How to Use OnionShare[edit]

Once OnionShare has been installed correctly and the Tor check is successful, sharing files anonymously is easy: [11]

Open OnionShare, drag and drop files and folders you wish to share into it, and click Start Sharing. After a moment, it will show you a .onion URL such as http://asxmi4q6i7pajg2b.onion/egg-cain. This is the secret URL that can be used to download the file you're sharing.

Send this URL to the person you're sending the files to. If the files you're sending aren't secret, you can use normal means of sending the URL, like by emailing it, or sending it in a Facebook or Twitter private message. If you're sending secret files then it's important to send this URL securely.

The person who is receiving the files doesn't need OnionShare. All they need is to open the URL you send them in Tor Browser to be able to download the file.

A complete user guide, along with advanced topics, hardening options [12] and development documentation is available on the official website. Do not change settings without fully understanding their function, otherwise onion addresses might be re-used, shares might be left open even after multiple downloads are performed, and so on.

OnionShare AppArmor Profiles[edit]

AppArmor profiles are available to better contain OnionShare, but they have not yet been tested in Whonix. [13] Profile development is reported to be lagging behind the master and development branches of the OnionShare git repository. Therefore, willing testers should be knowledgeable about AppArmor profiles before attempting this procedure.

Advanced users are encouraged to help progress the open OnionShare AppArmor ticket and help complete this wiki section. Successes or failures can also be reported in the Whonix AppArmor forum.

TODO: Test profiles and expand this section.


  4. Qubes-Whonix users should note the whonix-ws-14 TemplateVM will pull in over 70Mb of dependencies at step 6. Consider creating a separate, cloned whonix-ws-14 TemplateVM for this purpose beforehand.
  5. The git installation will not persist in Qubes-Whonix following reboot. This method avoids polluting the whonix-ws-14 TemplateVM upon which it is based.
  6. OnionShare is developed by Micah Lee and mig5. The key ID has been taken directly from
  7. Using /usr/local/etc/onion-grater-merger.d/ because that onion-grater settings folder is persistent in Qubes-Whonix TemplateBased ProxyVMs, i.e. Whonix-Gateway (commonly called sys-whonix). Non-Qubes-Whonix users could also use /etc/onion-grater-merger.d/. Qubes-Whonix users could also use /etc/onion-grater-merger.d/ but then users would have to make /etc/onion-grater-merger.d/ persistent, which would require doing this inside the Whonix-Gateway TemplateVM (commonly called whonix-gw-14) and restart their Whonix-Gateway ProxyVM or to use bind-dirs. Both is more complicated than simply using /usr/local/etc/onion-grater-merger.d/ which is persistent either way and even allows multiple Whonix-Gateway ProxyVMs based on the same Whonix-Gateway TemplateVM for lets say one Whonix-Gateway ProxyVM extending and relaxing onion-grater's whitelist and the other Whonix-Gateway ProxyVM with the default more restricted onion-grater whitelist.
  8. As per OnionShare uses ports 17600 to 17659.
  10. To create a .deb on Debian, run: ./install/
  12. Such as setting a Shutdown Timer to self-destruct shares if they are not downloaded within an acceptable time window. These topics are beyond the scope of this documentation.

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