How to Use the Tor Browser for Android

Install and set up the privacy-focused tor web browser

tor browser logo

Tor Project

Internet privacy to become a higher priority for many people. Those looking for an added level of protection from unwanted prying eyes often opt for the Tor web browser and the Tor network. The latter was originally crafted by the United States Navy, but now run by everyday users throughout the world. 

Just because you’re on the Tor network doesn't mean your actions will always be anonymous. There are no guarantees of complete privacy on the internet, no matter the measures taken. 

How Does the Tor Browser Work?

Tor works by encrypting and distributing both incoming and outgoing traffic through a series of virtual tunnels, allowing you to remain anonymous while also letting you reach destinations that may be blocked or banned on your original network.

Tor Network flow chart
Tor Project 

Another common reason for using Tor is to prevent sites from determining your physical location or tracking your behavior, information many companies gather and utilize for marketing purposes.

Android users can take advantage of these benefits using the Tor browser for Android, the official mobile browser of the Tor Project available for free through the Google Play Store.

The ability to take screenshots is disabled within the Tor Browser app due to their security policy. This applies to all Android versions and devices.

How to Use Tor Browser on Android

  1. Install the Tor Browser through Google Play on your smartphone or tablet.

  2. Launch the Tor Browser app.

  3. A screen with a purple background and the Tor “onion” logo should now be displayed. Tap CONNECT.

  4. Tor Browser will now attempt to establish a connection with the Tor network. If successful, the about:tor screen will appear featuring the “Explore. Privately” tagline toward the top. You're now connected to Tor and can begin browsing.

  5. Enter a URL or search keyword(s) in the address bar at the top of the screen, just as you would with any other web browser. 

    Unlike most other browsers, search suggestions are disabled by default in Tor. To enable them, tap YES when prompted.

  6. If the site you’ve visited utilizes cookies, you'll receive a message asking if you’d like to accept them. This is a personal preference, and depends on your individual privacy needs. Tap YES if you’d like to allow cookies in Tor Browser at that point. 

Some websites won't function as expected if cookies are not allowed.

How to Use Tor Browser in Private Mode

Although Tor Browser utilizes the Tor network for anonymity and privacy purposes, it does store browsing history and other user-specific information locally on your device. To prevent this data from being saved, we recommend a private browsing session.

  1. Launch the Tor Browser app.

  2. Tap the Menu icon, represented by three vertically-aligned dots and located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

  3. When the drop-down menu appears, tap New private tab.

  4. A new tab will now open with private browsing mode enabled. History, cache, cookies and other potentially sensitive data are not stored locally while browsing in this tab or any other private tab.

How to Clear Private Data in Tor Browser

If you’re surfing the web with Tor Browser in its default state (not in private browsing mode), a log of the websites you visit along with other data like cache and cookies may be stored on your smartphone or tablet for future reference, or to improve your experience during subsequent browsing sessions. Take the following steps to remove this data from your Android device.

  1. Launch the Tor Browser app.

  2. Tap the Menu button, represented by three vertically-aligned dots and located in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

  3. When the drop-down menu appears, tap Settings > Clear private data.

  4. A list of private data components will now be displayed, each accompanied by a checkbox. Place a checkmark next to each category you wish to delete (i.e., Search history), then tap CLEAR DATA

  5. A confirmation message should briefly appear at the bottom of the screen, stating your private data has been cleared.