Start in Tails or Linux.

Install an intermediary Tails

In this step, you will install an intermediary Tails using the Tails USB image that you downloaded earlier.

The persistent storage of your Tails USB stick will not be copied.

  1. Start GNOME Disks (also called Disks).

    For example, you can press the Super key, then type disk, then choose Disks.
    Choose Applications ▸ Utilities ▸ Disks.

    USB stick plugged in the computer USB stick plugged on the left
  2. Plug in the intermediary USB stick on which you want to install Tails.

    All the data on this USB stick will be lost.

    A new drive appears in the left pane. Click on it.

    USB image installed on USB stick USB image installed on USB stick on the left
  3. Click on the Menu button in the titlebar and choose Restore Disk Image….

    If your version of GNOME Disks is old it might have a System button instead. Click on the System button and choose Restore Disk Image….

  4. In the Restore Disk Image dialog, click on the file selector button.

    Choose the USB image that you downloaded earlier.

    Make sure that the USB image has an .img file extension.

    If the image has an .iso file extension, it is not the correct image. Please go back to the download step for installing from Linuxdownload step for upgrading from Tails.

  5. Click on the Start Restoring… button.

  6. In the confirmation dialog click Restore.

    Depending on your Linux distribution, you might be asked for your administration password.

    The installation takes a few minutes.

  7. After the installation is finished, click on the Eject button.

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!

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

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

    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. Switch on the computer.

    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

    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)

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

    Most computers do not start on Tails by default. If it does you are lucky. Otherwise, if the computer starts on Debian, Ubuntu, or Linux Mint Windows, Linux, Windows or Linux, refer to the troubleshooting section about Tails not starting at all.

    Troubleshooting: Tails does not start at all

    The following section applies if the Boot Loader Menu does not appear when starting on a USB stick.

    It is quite common for computers not to start automatically on a USB stick with Tails installed. Here are some troubleshooting techniques. You should try them one after the other.

    Getting to the boot menu

    On most computers, you can press a boot menu key to display a list of possible devices to start from. The following instructions explain how to display the boot menu and start on the USB stick. The following screenshot is an example of such boot menu:

    1. Shut down the computer.

    2. Make sure that the first USB stick is plugged in the computer.

    3. Identify the potential boot menu keys for the computer depending on the computer manufacturer in the following list:

      ManufacturerKey
      AcerEsc, F12, F9
      AsusEsc, F8
      DellF12
      FujitsuF12, Esc
      HPEsc, F9
      LenovoF12, Novo, F8, F10
      SamsungEsc, F12, F2
      SonyF11, Esc, F10
      ToshibaF12
      others…F12, Esc
    4. Switch on the computer.

      Immediately press several times the first potential boot menu key identified in step 3.

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

      a. If the computer starts on another operating system, then:

      1. Shut down the computer.

      2. Press-and-hold the potential boot menu key identified in step 3.

      3. Switch on the computer again while holding the potential boot menu key pressed.

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

        a. If the computer starts on another operating system or returns an error message, then shut down the computer again and repeat step 4 for all the potential boot menu keys identified in step 3.

    If none of the potential boot menu keys identified in step 3 work or if the USB stick does not appear in the list, then try the second troubleshooting technique described below.

    Check our list of known issues

    Similar problems might have been reported already for your model of computer in our list of known issues.

    Edit the BIOS settings

    You might need to edit the BIOS settings of the computer.

    Search for the user manual of the computer on the website of its manufacturer to learn how to edit the BIOS settings:

    In the BIOS settings, try to apply the following changes one by one and restart the computer after each change. Some changes might not apply to certain computer models.

    Take note of the changes that you apply to the BIOS settings, to be able to revert them if they prevent the computer to start on its usual operating system.

    1. Edit the Boot Order. Depending on the computer model you might see an entry for removable devices or USB media. Move this entry to the top of the list to force the computer to try to start from the first USB stick before starting from the internal hard disk.

    2. Disable Fast boot.

    3. If the computer is configured to start with legacy BIOS, try to configure it to start with UEFI. Else, if the computer is configured to start with UEFI, try to configure it to start with legacy BIOS. To do so, try any of the following options if available:

    4. Try to upgrade the BIOS to the latest version provided by the manufacturer.

    Report the problem to our support team

    If none of these options work, we are sorry but you might not be able to use Tails on this computer.

    Please, send an email to our support team, including the following information:

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

    2. How did you verify the USB image?

    3. Which is the brand and model of the computer?

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

    5. Which program did you use to install your USB stick:

      • Etcher,
      • GNOME Disks,
      • Tails Installer, or
      • dd on the command line?

      Note that these are the only supported installation methods.

    6. Have you been able to start Tails successfully on this computer before, from another USB stick or DVD, or with another version of Tails? If so, which ones?

    7. Does the same USB stick start successfully on other computers?

    Black screen with Tails artwork. Boot Loader Menu with two options 'Tails' and 'Tails (Troubleshooting Mode)'.

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

  4. After 30–60 seconds, another screen called Tails Greeter 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 Tails Greeter, refer to the troubleshooting section about Tails not starting entirely.

    Troubleshooting

    Tails does not start entirely

    The following section applies if the Boot Loader Menu appears but not Tails Greeter when starting Tails.

    1. Restart the computer on the first USB stick.

    2. In the Boot Loader Menu, choose the Troubleshooting Mode which might work better on some computers.

    3. If the Troubleshooting Mode does not work better, restart the computer again on the first USB stick.

    4. In the Boot Loader Menu, press TAB. A command line with a list of boot options appears at the bottom of the screen.

      Black screen with Tails artwork and list of boot options

    5. Press the Backspace key several times to remove the quiet option from the command line.

    6. If Tails previously failed to start and displayed the Probing EDD (edd=off to disable)... error, then type edd=off to add this option to the command line.

    7. Type debug nosplash to add these options to the command line.

    8. To start Tails, press Enter.

    9. Hopefully, error messages now appear when starting Tails. You can send them to our support team by email, for example by taking a picture of the last screen and error messages.

    10. If the error message is /bin/sh: can't access tty; job control turned off followed by (initramfs), then try removing the live-media=removable option from the boot command line.

      If removing live-media=removable allows you to start Tails, please report the problem to our support team. This contributes to improving the list of problematic USB sticks. Then try installing Tails on another USB stick.

    Removing the live-media=removable option might be dangerous. If an adversary had access to the computer and installed a malicious Tails on an internal hard disk, the computer might start on the malicious Tails instead of on the USB stick.

    Tails Greeter: 'Welcome to Tails!'

  5. In Tails Greeter, select your language and keyboard layout in the Language & Region section. Click Start Tails.

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

    Tails desktop

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!