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. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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