Tails USB stick

Congratulations, you have installed Tails on your USB stick!

You will now restart your computer on this USB stick. It can be a bit complicated, so good luck! But it might not work on your Mac model, so good luck!

If you are already in Tails, go directly to step 3: Verify that the other Tails is up-to-date.

Open these instructions on another device

In the next step, you will shut down the computer. To be able to follow the rest of the instructions afterwards, we recommend you either:

  • Open this page on your smartphone, tablet, or another computer (recommended).

  • Print the rest of the instructions on paper.

  • Take note of the URL of this page to be able to come back later:

    https://tails.boum.org/install/clone?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/install/win/usb?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/install/mac/usb?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/install/mac/clone?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/install/expert/usb?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/install/linux/usb?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/upgrade/clone?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/upgrade/tails?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/upgrade/win?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/upgrade/mac?back=1 https://tails.boum.org/upgrade/linux?back=1

Restart on the intermediary Tails

Restart on the other Tails

Restart on Tails

USB stick plugged on the left Computer restarted on USB stick Computer restarted on USB stick on the left USB stick unplugged on the right and computer restarted on USB stick on the left

Make the computer start on the USB stick

  1. Click on the Start button.

  2. Press and hold the Shift key while you choose Power ▸ Restart.

  3. In the Choose an option screen, choose Use a device.

    If the Choose an option screen does not appear, refer to the instructions on starting Tails using the Boot Menu key.

  4. In the Use a device screen, choose Boot Menu.

    Windows shuts down, the computer restarts, and a Boot Menu appears.

    Plug in your Tails USB stick shortly after choosing Boot Menu and while Windows is shutting down.

    In the future, we We recommend that you only plug your Tails USB stick while Windows is shutting down. Otherwise, a virus in Windows could infect your Tails USB stick and break its security.

    Such an attack is possible in theory but very unlikely in practice. We don't know of any virus capable of infecting Tails. See our warning on plugging Tails in untrusted systems.

    The Boot Menu is a list of possible devices to start from. The following screenshot is an example of a Boot Menu:

  5. In the Boot Menu, select your USB stick and press Enter.

  6. If the computer starts on Tails, the Boot Loader appears and Tails starts automatically after 4 seconds.

    Black screen
    ('GNU GRUB') with Tails logo and 2 options: 'Tails' and 'Tails
    (Troubleshooting Mode)'.

    If no Boot Menu appears or if your USB stick is not listed in the Boot Menu, refer to the instructions on starting Tails using the Boot Menu key.

    Starting the computer using a Boot Menu key can be faster than starting the computer on Windows first and then on Tails. We recommend you learn how to start Tails using the Boot Menu key if you use Tails regularly.

Most computers do not start on the Tails USB stick automatically but you can press a Boot Menu key to display a list of possible devices to start from.

If Windows 8 or 10 is also installed on the computer, you can refer instead to the instructions on starting Tails from Windows 8 or 10. Starting Tails from Windows is easier than using the Boot Menu key.

The following screenshot is an example of a Boot Menu:

This animation summarizes how to use the Boot Menu key to start on the USB stick:

The following instructions explain in detail how to use the Boot Menu key to start on the USB stick:

  1. Shut down the computer while leaving the USB stick plugged in.

    Shut down the computer and plug in the Tails USB stick.

    Shut down the computer.

    Plug in the other Tails USB stick that you want to install upgrade from.

    Unplug your Tails USB stick while leaving the intermediary USB stick plugged in.

  2. Identify the possible Boot Menu keys for the computer depending on the computer manufacturer in the following list:

    ManufacturerKey
    AcerEsc, F12, F9
    AsusEsc, F8
    ClevoF7
    DellF12
    FujitsuF12, Esc
    HPF9, Esc
    LenovoF12, Novo, F8, F10
    SamsungEsc, F12, F2
    SonyF11, Esc, F10
    ToshibaF12
    others…F12, Esc

    On many computers, a message is displayed very briefly when switching on that also explains how to get to the Boot Menu or edit the BIOS settings.

  3. Switch on the computer and immediately press several times the first possible Boot Menu key identified in step 2.

  4. If the computer starts on another operating system or returns an error message, shut down the computer again and repeat step 3 for all the possible Boot Menu keys identified in step 2.

    If a Boot Menu with a list of devices appears, select your USB stick and press Enter.

    If the Boot Menu key that works on your computer is a different one than the first in the list, please let us know so we can improve the list. You can write to sajolida@pimienta.org (private email).

  5. If the computer starts on Tails, the Boot Loader appears and Tails starts automatically after 4 seconds.

    Black screen
  ('GNU GRUB') with Tails logo and 2 options: 'Tails' and 'Tails
  (Troubleshooting Mode)'.

    If none of the possible Boot Menu keys from the previous technique work or if your USB stick is not listed in the Boot Menu, refer to the troubleshooting instructions about Tails not starting at all.

  1. Shut down the computer while leaving the USB stick plugged in.

    Plug in the other Tails USB stick that you want to install from.

  2. Switch on the computer and immediately press-and-hold the Option key (Alt key) until a list of possible startup disks appears.

    'Option' or 'alt' key in the bottom left of Mac keyboard

  3. Choose the USB stick and press Enter. The USB stick appears as an external hard disk and might be labeled EFI Boot or Windows like in the following screenshot:

    Screen with the logo of an internal hard disk labeled 'Macintosh HD' and an external hard disk labelled 'Windows' (selected)

    If the USB stick does not appear in the list of possible startup disks:

    1. Make sure that you have verified your download of Tails.
    2. Try installing again on the same USB stick.
    3. Try installing on a different USB stick.
    4. Try using the same USB stick to start on a different computer.
      If the same USB stick works on a different computer, please report the problem to our help desk.
  4. Reporting the problem to our help desk

    Please send the following information to tails-support-private@boum.org:

    1. Which version of Tails are you trying to start?

    2. How did you verify the USB image?

    3. What is the brand and model of your computer?

    4. What exactly happens when trying to start? Report the complete error message that appears on the screen, if any.

    5. What program did you use to install your USB stick?

    6. Does the USB stick start successfully on other computers? If so, what are the brands and models of those computers?

    7. Have you been able to successfully start another version of Tails on this computer before? If so, which version?

    We answer requests in:

    • English
    • French
    • Spanish
    • Italian

    Requests not in English might take longer to answer. Imperfect English is welcome :)

  5. If your Mac displays the following error:

    Security settings do not allow this Mac to use an external startup disk.

    Then you have to change the settings of the Startup Security Utility of your Mac to authorize starting from Tails.

    To open Startup Security Utility:

    1. Turn on your Mac, then press and hold Command(⌘)+R immediately after you see the Apple logo. Your Mac starts up from macOS Recovery.

    2. When you see the macOS Utilities window, choose Utilities ▸ Startup Security Utility from the menu bar.

    3. When you are asked to authenticate, click Enter macOS Password, then choose an administrator account and enter its password.

    Startup Security Utility

    In the Startup Security Utility:

    • Choose No Security in the Secure Boot section.

    • Choose Allow booting from external media in the External Boot.

    To still protect your Mac from starting on untrusted external media, you can set a firmware password, available on macOS Mountain Lion or later. A firmware password prevents users who do not have the password from starting up from any media other than the designated startup disk.

    If you forget your firmware password you will require an in-person service appointment with an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

    Read more on Apple Support about:

  6. If the computer starts on Tails, the Boot Loader appears and Tails starts automatically after 4 seconds.

    Black screen ('GNU GRUB') with Tails logo and 2 options: 'Tails' and 'Tails (Troubleshooting Mode)'.

    If your computer displays the Boot Loader but then fails to start on the USB stick, it might currently be impossible to start Tails on your Mac model.

    Please report the problem to our help desk.

Reporting the problem to our help desk

Please send the following information to tails-support-private@boum.org:

  1. Which version of Tails are you trying to start?

  2. How did you verify the USB image?

  3. What is the brand and model of your computer?

  4. What exactly happens when trying to start? Report the complete error message that appears on the screen, if any.

  5. What program did you use to install your USB stick?

  6. Does the USB stick start successfully on other computers? If so, what are the brands and models of those computers?

  7. Have you been able to successfully start another version of Tails on this computer before? If so, which version?

We answer requests in:

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Italian

Requests not in English might take longer to answer. Imperfect English is welcome :)

Welcome Screen

  1. One to two minutes after the Boot Loader, the Welcome Screen appears.

    If the computer display the error message Error starting GDM with your graphics card, refer to our list of known issues with graphics cards.

    If the computer stops responding or displays other error messages before getting to the Welcome Screen, refer to the troubleshooting section about Tails not starting entirely.

    Welcome to Tails!

  2. In the Welcome Screen, select your language and keyboard layout in the Language & Region section. Click Start Tails.

  3. After 15–30 seconds, the Tails desktop appears.

    Tails desktop

Verify that the other Tails is up-to-date

To prevent installing upgrading to an outdated version of Tails with known security issues, make sure that the Tails you are installing upgrading from is up-to-date:

  1. Choose Applications ▸ Tails ▸ About Tails.

  2. Verify that you are running Tails 4.9 released on 2020-07-28:

    a. If you are running 4.9 then you can continue with the next step.

    b. If you are not running 4.9 then connect to the Internet and wait until Tor is ready. After a minute or two, Tails Upgrader appears with instructions on how to upgrade. Apply all upgrades as requested.

    If at some point it is impossible to do automatic upgrades, then we recommend you choose a different installation method. choose a different installation method. upgrade from Tails instead.

Install Tails

Upgrade your Tails

In this step, you will upgrade your Tails from the other intermediary Tails using Tails Installer.

Second USB stick plugged on the right
  1. Plug the new your Tails USB stick in the computer.

    All the data on this USB stick will be lost.

  2. Choose Applications ▸ Tails ▸ Tails Installer to start Tails Installer.

    Tails Installer: 'Clone the current Tails' Tails Installer: 'Clone the current Tails'

    Tails installed on USB stick on the right
  3. Choose the new your USB stick in the Target USB stick drop-down list.

  4. To start the installation, click on the Install button. upgrade, click on the Upgrade button.

    The Persistent Storage of your Tails USB stick will be preserved.

    The Persistent Storage of the other Tails will not be copied.

  5. Read the warning message in the confirmation dialog. Click Yes to confirm.

    The installation upgrade takes a few minutes.

    The progress bar usually freezes for some time while synchronizing data on disk.

  6. After the installation finishes, close Tails Installer.

You are done upgrading Tails. You can now shutdown and restart on your Tails USB stick.

Thank you for staying safe!

Restart on the new Tails

  1. Shut down the computer.

    USB stick unplugged on the left and computer restarted on USB stick on the right
  2. Unplug the other USB stick and leave the new USB stick plugged in.

  3. Switch on the computer and start on your new Tails USB stick.

  4. The Boot Loader appears and Tails starts automatically after 4 seconds.

  5. After 30–60 seconds, the Welcome Screen appears.

  6. In the Welcome Screen, select your language and keyboard layout in the Language & Region section. Click Start Tails.

  7. After 15–30 seconds, the Tails desktop appears.

Test your Wi-Fi

Problems with Wi-Fi are unfortunately quite common in Tails and Linux in general. To test if your Wi-Fi interface works in Tails:

  1. Open the system menu in the top-right corner:

  2. Choose Wi-Fi Not Connected and then Select Network.

  3. پس از برقراری اتصال به شبکه:

    • If you can already access the Internet, Tor is automatically started.

    • If you need to log in to a captive portal before being granted access to the Internet, see our documentation about logging in to captive portals.

If your Wi-Fi interface is not working, either:

  • There is no Wi-Fi option in the system menu:

  • The interface is disabled when starting Tails or when plugging in your USB Wi-Fi adapter:

    Notification about network card being disabled

    In this case, you can disable MAC spoofing to get your Wi-Fi interface to work in Tails. Disabling MAC spoofing has security implications, so read carefully our documentation about MAC spoofing before doing so.

To connect to the Internet, you can try to:

  • Use an Ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi if possible. Wired interfaces work much more reliably than Wi-Fi in Tails.

  • Share the Wi-Fi or mobile data connection of your phone using a USB cable. Sharing a connection this way is called USB tethering.

    See instructions for:

    Tails cannot hide the information that identifies your phone on the network. If you connect your phone to:

    • A Wi-Fi network, then the network will know the MAC address of your phone. This has security implications that are discussed in our documentation on MAC address spoofing. Some phones have a feature to hide the real MAC address of the phone.

    • A mobile data network, then the network will be able to know the identifier of your SIM card (IMSI) and also the serial number of your phone (IMEI).

  • Buy a USB Wi-Fi adapter that works in Tails:

    VendorModelSizeSpeedPriceBuy offlineBuy online
    EdimaxEW-7811UnNano150 Mbit/s$10NoAmazon
    Panda WirelessUltraNano150 Mbit/s$12NoAmazon
    Panda WirelessPAU05Small300 Mbit/s$14NoAmazon

    If you find another USB Wi-Fi adapter that works in Tails, please let us know. You can write to sajolida@pimienta.org (private email).

Yay, you managed to start your new Tails on your computer!

If you want to save some of your documents and configuration in an encrypted storage on your new Tails USB stick, follow our instructions until the end. Otherwise, have a look at our final recommendations. final recommendations. final recommendations. final recommendations. final recommendations. final recommendations.

Create a Persistent Storage (optional)

You can optionally create an encrypted Persistent Storage in the remaining free space on your new Tails USB stick to store any of the following:

  • Personal files
  • Some settings
  • Additional software
  • Encryption keys

The data in the Persistent Storage:

  • Remains available across separate working sessions.
  • Is encrypted using a passphrase of your choice.

The Persistent Storage is not hidden. An attacker in possession of your USB stick can know that there is a Persistent Storage on it. Take into consideration that you can be forced or tricked to give out its passphrase.

It is possible to unlock the Persistent Storage from other operating systems. But, doing so might compromise the security provided by Tails.

For example, image thumbnails might be created and saved by the other operating system. Or, the contents of files might be indexed by the other operating system.

Other operating systems should probably not be trusted to handle sensitive information or leave no trace.

Create the Persistent Storage

  1. Choose Applications ▸ Tails ▸ Configure persistent volume.

  2. Specify a passphrase of your choice in both the Passphrase and Verify Passphrase text boxes.

    We recommend choosing a long passphrase made of five to seven random words. Learn more.

  3. روی دکمهٔ ایجاد کلیک کنید.

  4. صبر کنید تا روند ایجاد درایو به پایان برسد.

  5. The list of features of the Persistent Storage appears. Each feature corresponds to a set of files or settings that can be saved in the Persistent Storage.

    We recommend you to only turn on the Personal Data feature for the time being. You can turn on more features later on according to your needs.

  6. Click Save.

Restart and unlock the Persistent Storage

  1. Shut down the computer and restart on your new Tails USB stick.

  2. In the Welcome Screen:

    Welcome to Tails!

    • Select your language and keyboard layout in the Language & Region section.

    • In the Encrypted Persistent Storage section, enter your passphrase and click Unlock to unlock the Persistent Storage for the current working session.

    • Click Start Tails.

  3. After 15–30 seconds, the Tails desktop appears.

  4. You can now save your personal files and working documents in the Persistent folder. To open the Persistent folder choose Places ▸ Persistent.

Tails USB stick with Persistent Storage

You now have a complete Tails, congrats!

Final recommendations

Tails does not protect you from everything! Have a look at our warnings.

If you face any problem, use the Report an error launcher on the Tails desktop or visit our support pages.

We hope you enjoy using Tails :)