OnionShare 2 released: Tor-powered file sharing

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 21, 2019

The initial version of OnionShare launched in 2017 for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It featured options to share files anonymously using the Tor network using a simple but effective interface.

Files would remain on the local computer as they were shared from it directly. While that meant that the local computer had to be on to allow others to download the files, it ensured that the files would not be hosted by third-parties.

OnionShare 2 was released in February 2019. The new version introduces several new features, public mode, anonymous Dropbox support, or support for new onion addresses.

OnionShare connects to the Tor network when you launch it; this should happen automatically. The application displays the settings if the connection attempt is unsuccessful so that you may change connection related preferences and try the connection again.

The main interface has been updated visually and functionality-wise.

You may drag and drop files or folders that you want to share or use the add button instead. Another option provided right there is to switch to the "receive files" tab to enable receive mode. Enabling the mode gives other users options to upload files to the system OnionShare 2 is run on.

The application displays an address that these other users need to use to send files to the device.

Sharing works the other way round. Activate the "start sharing" button once you have added one or multiple files that you want to share.

OnionShare displays the secret address then which you need to share. The new address format that OnionShare 2 uses is more secure than the previous one. An address like http://ct47fkr5xvym7s2jjmso6lqysqvsp4lh46xw4xxhfwq2woqtr4fpisyd.onion/coasting-swampland is more secure than addresses like http://elx57ue5uyfplgva.onion/tug-rentable that used the old format.

onionshare 2 settings

Contacts need to use the Tor browser or other Tor programs to load the address and download the files. The application stops the sharing automatically after the files have been downloaded once. You may stop the behavior in the options by removing the checkmark from "stop sharing after files have been sent".

The program indicates that you are sharing files. You may click on the transfer button to display the transfer history.

OnionShare 2 supports a number of extra features that extend the functionality significantly. One of the new features is public mode which you enable in the preferences.

Public mode complements receive mode when you disable the "stop sharing after files have been sent" option. OnionShare 2 uses a security feature that disables the server automatically when it identifies 20 attempts to guess the two-word passphrase of the address.

Say you tweet the address to share files permanently. Anyone could simply attack the sharing by trying different passphrases in the end to force the server to turn off itself after 20 invalid attempts. Public mode ignores these and makes sure that the server stays online.

Another new feature is the option to run an anonymous dropbox. The mode works similarly to receive mode but you use a persistent address for it. Check the option in the preferences to make sure that the address does not change between sessions.

You could run this on a server, e.g. a headless Linux server, so that anyone may upload files to it at any time of the day.

Now Read: A look at TAILS – Privacy oriented GNU/Linux Distribution

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  1. asd said on February 27, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    What is a good app that doesn’t require the recipient to use Tor or any extra software? just simple secure one to one file sharing.

  2. Gerard said on February 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Tribler a “government project”? Looks like fake news or a conspiracy delusion to me. It’s an open source software project (checked the code, noemata?), led by university researchers at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. It allowed three generations of Ph.D. students to test their algorithms in the real internet world.
    Of course a public institution and its research and educational activities are (partly) funded by tax payers through various organizations and foundations. The Netherlands is not a dictatorship, Trumpistan, Xina, Putinskistan, Orbungary, Republic of Paranoia or any other not very civilized, free or pleasant nation.
    See also:


    “had many security-issues in the past”? In the past? Tribler may still have security issues if you look long and hard enough. All complex software of this type probably has. It’s not perfect. However, Tribler is under very active development and is improved continually.
    As to the past, issues listed on the Tor mailing list in 2014 were addressed in the same year:


  3. supergirl said on February 23, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Well thank you both for your suggestions…..

    It really irks me that the Internet is such a privacy unfriendly place.

    I do have a vague interest in TOR, freenet, etc.

  4. noemata said on February 22, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    tribler. this is a government project (and had many security-issues in the past). so please, only 4linux-distros & co. ; not for game of thrones & co. . and as far as the tor – network itself is concerned – it is in the nature of this network that it is under massive surveillance with more outstanding algorithms than those needed for the clearnet. but some people feel like invulnerable superhumans when they use (only) tor. well, i suspect they are completely wrong. imho. time is ticking.

    so i don’t think much of tails (snowden uses “qubes – os” now, a bloated mix of everything; xen virtualisation (outdated again), tor/whonix, et cetera). inelegant waste of resources. not at all promising for the future.

    let’s face it. due to the architecture of the web and due to the architecture of humans, complete freedom (also in the sense of richard stallman) and/(or(?)) complete anonymity is not possible.

    torvalds has understood this for a long time. that’s why he’s also a walking paradox (googles android is based on his baby). he has this “contradictoriness” in common with stallman, who wants to _impose_ “free” software on everyone (well, that makes his intention absurd and that’s why he failed).

    conclusio: there is no “technical” solution for freedom/security/privacy/anonymity on the web. maybe technical rudiments (one rudiment is already usable and expandable (i’m not talking about “qubes”)) always and _necessarily primary based_ on socially/empathically developed people. and there aren’t many of them. that’s gonna change. in future. if not, mankind erases itself anyway.

  5. Gerard said on February 22, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    ‘Supergirl’, maybe you’d like to have a look Tribler: “Privacy using our Tor-inspired onion routing. Search and download torrents with less worries or censorship.”


    It’s an experimental research project led by researchers at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands).
    Martin reviewed it in 2014. That’s a long time ago for this type of experimental software. Perhaps it’s time to have another look at it.

  6. supergirl said on February 22, 2019 at 4:42 am

    Soooo……. this is not for general file-sharing like torrenting Linux distros etc..Is It?

    Im heartbroken…

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