Looking for some extra security, privacy and anonymity whens sending files? This might be a neat solution for you.
Currently it seems the instructions for using this interesting Onionshare technology are not super clear so I’m writing up a quick tutorial so others can save a few minutes and set their expectations correctly.
First, how it works is this:
- You have to use a command line tool for now
- Onionshare does a bunch of fancy stuff to your file and turns it into a shareable link
- The person on the other side gets the files by entering that link into a tor browser (not a regular browser – won’t work)
- You get a .zip file, not the raw file which you download to your local device and extract
- It seems you only get one chance and if you don’t get the files, the link dies and the sender has to start again.
So, let’s get started:
1. Install Onionshare.
Command line install instructions are in the Ubuntu section here
2. Install Tor browser
I used the Ubuntu Software centre. Probably there are other ways to get it.
3. Convert your file into a shareable and anonymous link
In the terminal, go to where your file is with the CD command and then type:
Where filename.txt is whatever file it is you are trying to share.
4. Copy Link to clipboard
If you haven’t used a terminal for copying before you’ll need to do control + shift + C (not just control + c)
5. Have sender open link in Tor browser
In this case it’s probably you for the first test so paste the link into the Tor browser.
6. Download the file(s)
It seems you only get one shot and that it won’t download raw file but only compressed package. Also if you aren’t familiar with Tor, I lost some precious time here as well looking on my computer for the file but it downloads into a ‘tor folder’ it seems so use the browser to go find your file in case it didn’t end up where you expected…what I did was find it, and then control + X it to my local machine from there to do the next steps.
7. Extract and Enjoy
Worked for me!
Try now to click the download files button again. You will see it’s dead.
Try also to use the same share link again. You will see this also is dead.
Kind of cool.
Sending more than one File at Once
So, after sending one file, I tried again to send an entire directory containing a screenshot, a PDF and a music file just to see what happened. I then tried to do the exact command with a regular directory to see if this would be able to handle it but no go. Onionshare appears not to be able to do this. It failed and couldn’t open the end zip file. For the second test I compressed the directory first as a .zip, then sent that via the instructions above and … still no go. When I try to extract it fails.
So it may currently only be able to send single files, but definitely single files work well with these instructions above and if you figured out how to send a directory, throw that in the comments below.