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Circumvention Tools

CircumventionTools: UsingTorIMBrowserBundle

Using Tor IM Browser Bundle

The Tor IM Browser Bundle is similar to the Tor Browser Bundle, but offers you access to the Pidgin multi-protocol Instant Messaging client, so you can chat encrypted over your favourite Instant Messenger protocol like ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger or QQ which may be filtered.pidgin

You can learn more about Pidgin here: http://www.pidgin.im/

Download Tor IM Browser Bundle

You can download the Tor IM Browser Bundle directly from the Tor Web site (20MB) at https://www.torproject.org/torbrowser/ 


(If your Internet connection is slow or unreliable, you can also get a split up version on the torproject.org Web site at https://www.torproject.org/torbrowser/split.html).


If the torproject.org Web site is filtered from where you are, type "tor mirrors" in your favorite Web search engine: the results probably include some alternative addresses to download the Tor Browser Bundle.

Caution: When you download Tor Bundle (plain or split versions), you should check the signatures of the files, especially if you are downloading the files from a mirror site. This step ensures that the files have not been tampered with. To learn more about signature files and how to check them, read https://wiki.torproject.org/noreply/TheOnionRouter/VerifyingSignatures  

(You can also download the GnuPG software that you will need to check the signature here: http://www.gnupg.org/download/index.en.html#auto-ref-2). 

Auto-extract the archive

  • To get started, double-click the .EXE file you just downloaded.

You should see the window below:

extract Tor Browser 

  • Choose a folder into which you want to extract the files. If you are not sure leave the default value untouched. Then click "Extract".
Note: You can choose to extract the files directly onto a USB key or memory stick if you want to use Tor Browser on different computers (for instance on public computers in Internet cafés).
  • When the extraction is completed, open the newly-created folder and check that it looks like the image below (note the "PidginPortable" folder):
the Tor IM browser folder after extraction

  • You can now safely delete the ".exe" file you originally downloaded (or the several ".rar" and ".exe" files if you used the split version).

Using Tor IM Browser Bundle

Before you start:

  • Close Firefox. If the Firefox browser is installed on your computer, make sure it is not currently running.  

  • Close Tor. If Tor is already installed on your computer, make sure it is not currently running.

Launch Tor IM Browser:

  • In the "Tor Browser" folder, double-click "Start Tor Browser". The Tor control panel ("Vidalia") opens and Tor connects to the Tor network.

Tor starting

When a connection is established:

  • A Firefox browser window pops up and connects to the TorCheck page, which should show a green onion that confirms you that you are connected to the Tor network.
  • A Pidgin assistant window (below) pops up inviting you to set up your IM account on Pidgin.

Pidgin and Firefox startup windows

You will also see the Tor icon (a green onion if you are connected) and a Pidgin icon appear in the System Tray on the lower-right-hand corner of your screen:

Tray bar with Tor and Pidgin on 

Set up your IM account in Pidgin

You can set up your IM account in the Pidgin window. Pidgin is compatible with most major IM services (AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, Jabber, XMPP, ICQ, and others):

Pidgin account set up window

To learn more on how you can use Pidgin, read:


If this does not work

Tor check with red onion

If the onion in the Vidalia Control Panel doesn't turn green or if Firefox opens, but displays a page saying "Sorry. You are not using Tor", then you should:

    • Exit Vidalia and Pidgin (see below for details).
    • Relaunch Tor IM Browser following the steps above ("Using Tor IM Browser Bundle").
    If Tor Browser still doesn't work, after two or three tries, Tor may be partly blocked by your ISP. Refer to the "Using Tor with Bridges" chapter of this manual and try again, using the bridge feature of Tor.

    Exit Tor IM Browser

    To exit the Tor IM Browser you need to:

    • Exit Vidalia by right-clicking on the onion icon in your tray bar and choose "Exit" in the Vidalia contextual menu. 
    Exit Vidalia
    • Exit Pidgin by right clicking on the Pidgin icon in your tray bar and choose "Quit" in the Pidgin contextual menu
    Exit Pidgin

    When the Vidalia onion icon and the Pidgin icon have disappeared from the Windows System Tray in the lower-right-hand corner of your screen, Tor IM Browser is closed.

    Tray bar with Tor off