Tor Messenger Beta is now available

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 30, 2015
Updated • Oct 31, 2015

If you are still using Instant messengers for communication -- that's so last century by the way -- then you may be interested in the first public release of Tor Messenger Beta, an instant messaging client based on Instantbird but enhanced with the power of Tor.

Tor Messenger is a cross-platform chat application that is based on Instantbird (just like Tor Browser itself is based on Firefox).

Unlike Instantbird however, all traffic is routed automatically through the Tor network which is the main distinguishing feature.

The functionality of the messaging client remains the same which means that you can use it to connect to a variety of transport networks including Facebook Chat, Google Talk, IRC or Jabber.

It should be clear that some communication, metadata especially, can still be logged depending on the service you are using.

If you are using Facebook Chat for instance, you need to sign in to a Facebook account to make use of it. What Facebook cannot log however is the location you are connecting to the Internet from as your original location is hidden as your connection is routed through Tor's network.

Note: A bug in the Windows version of Tor Messenger is preventing the app from starting up correctly. There is a workaround for that though:

  1. Open the prefs.js file in Messenger/TorMessenger/Data/Browser/profile.default/
  2. Add the following two lines to the end of it
  3. user_pref("gfx.direct2d.disabled", true);
  4. user_pref("layers.acceleration.disabled", true);
  5. Comment out any line starting with gfx.driver-init by adding // in front of each line
  6. Start Tor Messenger.

If you have worked with Instantbird before you will find yourself at home right away once you get the application to start up.

One difference is that unencrypted one-to-one conversations are not allowed. This means that you won't be able to communicate with other users if they don't use an OTR-enabled client. There is an option in the preferences to allow unencrypted communication.

The main focus is security, robustness of the client and the user experience. The team plans to introduce new features to the messaging app in the future that improves it significantly.

Among the improvements are sandboxing support, support for secure multi-party communication, encrypted file-transfers, and improved Tor support.

Users who run the beta version are asked to report requests, bugs and provide feedback to the team.

Tor Messenger Beta is provided as a build for Linux, Windows and OS X. You find download links and checksum information on the official Tor blog.

Tor Messenger Beta is now available
Article Name
Tor Messenger Beta is now available
A first public beta version of Tor Messenger has just been released. The Instantbird-based chat client uses Tor to improve security and privacy.

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  1. Dave said on November 2, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Oh good, a more convenient way for terrorists and paedophiles to plot bad things.

  2. Nebulus said on October 31, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Martin, Tor itself is not based on Firefox, just the Tor Browser…

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 31, 2015 at 7:11 am

      Right, that’s what I meant but did not write ;)

  3. Onur said on October 30, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    “If you are still using Instant messengers for communication — that’s so last century by the way”. I’m in trading (stocks, forex etc.) and instant messaging is the butter of this biz as you get instant signal alerts from you peers. For us, it’s not so last century and will not be anytime soon.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 30, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      I should have marked this comment more clearly as a joke I think ;)

      1. Pants said on October 31, 2015 at 4:28 pm

        Godamnit … can I still at least use other last century technologies such as http, smtp, ftp and ttp .. no wait .. TTP is bad?

  4. webfork said on October 30, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Fantastic news but judging from the InstantBird website … the program is inactve. Regardless, InstantBird is my favorite chat client and I’m thrilled the Tor team appear to be working on an OTR add-on, which is one security measure that I’ve seen in wide use.

    Tor Messenger might be natively portable if it’s anything like InstantBird … but the addition of OTR and other plugins might break portability if it saves outside the profile folder.

    One alternative is TorChat, which is maybe more anonymous but doesn’t work with existing chat networks.

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