Secure File Sharing Tool OnionShare 2 Adds Anonymous Dropboxes

OnionShare 2

OnionShare 2 has been released after nearly a year of work, adding support for anonymous dropboxes, next generation V3 onion services, and more.

OnionShare is an open source GUI tool to securely and anonymously send and receive files of any size using the Tor onion services. It's available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

The application starts a web server on your computer, for which it assigns an unguessable Tor web address which can be used by others to download files from your computer, or upload files to your computer (with OnionShare 2), using end-to-end encryption. This is done without signing up for an account or using a third-party file-sharing service (the files are hosted on your computer).

Downloading files shared with OnionShare, or sending files to someone running OnionShare in receiver mode requires Tor Browser.

New in OnionShare 2:

  • There's a new receiver mode that allows you to receive files with OnionShare, instead of only sending files
  • Support for next generation onion services v3, which are much more secure than v2. It's worth noting that OnionShare addresses use HTTP and not HTTPS because that's not necessary (and it would result in browser warning because Let's Encrypt doesn't sign HTTPS certificates for .onion sites) but the Tor onion services already use end-to-end encryption.
  • macOS sandbox is enabled
  • Public mode feature, for public uses of OnionShare, which when enabled turns off slugs in the URL and removes the limit on how many 404 requests can be made
  • OnionShare no longer creates a zip archive when sharing a single file (but still compresses it with gzip, built into the HTTP protocol)
  • Allow selecting your language from a dropdown, and added  new translations (Catalan, Danish, French, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese Brazil, Russian, Spanish and Swedish)
  • Major refactoring of the codebase, and a robust set of unit tests which makes OnionShare easier to maintain going forward

Related: How To Install And Use Tor As A Proxy In Ubuntu Or Linux Mint

The new receiver mode in OnionShare 2 turns your computer into a a free, anonymous dropbox that runs on any operating system supported by OnionShare, without any setup. Enabling the new receiver mode in OnionShare 2 starts a web server, making it accessible as a Tor onion service, and creates an unguessable onion web address that you can share with a friend, which will allow your friend to upload files to your computer using Tor browser.

This new receiver mode is only the beginning. There are plans to also add static website sharing to OnionShare with the 2.1 release.

How to use OnionShare to share / receive files

Share files with OnionShare

To share files with OnionShare, start by launching the application. On the Share Files tab, click Add and add the files you want to share (if you select multiple files here, they will be added to a zip archive when downloading them):

Onionshare add files

Now click Start sharing:

OnionShare start sharing

After clicking the Start sharing button, OnionShare will give you an unguessable Tor address to share:

OnionShare sharing

You need to send this onion web address to the person you want to share the files with. Send it using a secure, encrypted messaging application of your choice. In case there's no sensitive data being shared, you can also share the web address using a less secure service, like Facebook, email, etc.

The person wanting to download the files you've shared must open this onion web address using Tor Browser:

Tor browser download shared file

The shared files are listed by Tor Browser, and there's a Download Files button that you can use to download all the shared files at once (multiple files are downloaded as a single zip archive).

Related: Privacy-Focused Tor Browser 8.0 Is Based On Firefox 60 ESR, Includes New Onboarding Experience

Receive files with OnionShare

To receive files with OnionShare, launch the application and click the Receive Files tab. Next, click Start Receive Mode:

OnionShare start receive mode

An onion web address is created for receiving files - copy this address and send it (using a secure, encrypted messaging application) to the person that you want to send you files:

OnionShare receive mode

The person that will send you files must now open the onion web address with Tor Browser. This web address allows adding files as shown in this screenshot:

Tor browser send files OnionShare

This person sending the files must now click Browse, select the files, and click the Send Files button.

Back on your computer, you should now start receiving the files. OnionShare will now show the status of the files you're receiving when clicking on the down arrow button:

OnionShare received files

Files received with OnionShare are saved to an OnionShare folder in your home directory by default. This can be changed from the OnionShare settings. It's worth noting that the OnionShare settings button is not visible when files are shared or OnionShare is in Receiver Mode, so stop these to be able to access the settings.

In both sharing and receiving files cases, the onion web address stops existing as soon as you stop sharing / receiver mode.

Download OnionShare

OnionShare is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. On some Linux distributions you'll find OnionShare in the repositories (like Debian, Ubuntu or Fedora), but for now it's an older version, and not the latest OnionShare 2.

The only Linux distribution that has official precompiled binaries for the latest OnionShare v2 is Ubuntu (and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions: Linux Mint, elementary OS, etc.), thanks to an official OnionShare PPA. There aren't even snap or flatpak packages for OnionShare 2 right now. As an alternative, you can compile it from source using the official documentation.

You can add this PPA and install the latest OnionShare version in Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS or other Ubuntu-based Linux distributions using:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:micahflee/ppa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install onionshare