The desktop environment used in Tails is GNOME. This page describes some important features of the desktop in the context of Tails.

Top navigation bar

In the upper left corner of the screen there is one button and three menus:

  • the Activities button
  • the Applications menu
  • the Places menu

Activities overview

To access your windows and applications you can either:

  • Click on the Activities button.
  • Throw your mouse pointer to the top-left hot corner.
  • Press the Super () key on your keyboard.

You can see your windows and applications in the overview. You can also start typing to search your applications, files, and folders.

Applications menu

The Applications menu provides shortcuts to the included software and to GNOME configuration utilities.

Help: to access the GNOME Desktop Help choose Utilities ▸ Help
Settings: to change various system settings such as keyboard, mouse and touchpad, or displays, choose System Tools ▸ Settings.

To learn about the many keyboard shortcuts in GNOME, open the Settings utility and choose Keyboard Shortcuts.

About Tails: to know the version of Tails that you are currently running, choose Tails ▸ About Tails

Favorites submenu

In the Favorites submenu, a few shortcuts allow you to launch the most frequently used applications:

Tor Browser to browse the web anonymously and uncensored
See our documentation on browsing the web with Tor Browser
Tor Connection to connect to the Tor network
See our documentation on connecting to Tor
Persistent Storage to create and configure a Persistent Storage on your Tails USB stick
See our documentation on the Persistent Storage
Tails documentation to open an offline version of the Tails website and documentation, embeded in Tails
WhisperBack Error Reporting to report problems about Tails to our team
See our documentation on reporting an error
Tails Cloner to clone Tails to another USB stick

Places menu

The Places menu provides direct access to different folders and storage media.

Tor status and circuits

The Tor status icon (Tor
status menu or Tor status menu) provides a shortcut to Onion Circuits, which allows you to manage the Tor circuits being used by Tails.

See our documentation on Onion Circuits.

Universal access

The universal access menu allows you to activate the screen reader, screen keyboard, large text display, and other accessibility technologies.

See our documentation on accessibility.

Keyboard layouts

The keyboard layout menu allow you to change the keyboard layout and input method for non-Latin scripts.

System menu

In the top-right corner of the top navigation bar, the system menu allows you to manage your settings, connect to a Wi-Fi network, and restart your computer.


From the system menu, you can choose which Wi-Fi network to connect to.

See also the documentation on connecting to a network.

Screen locker

Click on Lock screen to lock your screen with a password.

  • If you set up an administration password when starting Tails, you can unlock your screen with your administration password.

    Your screen will automatically lock after some time if you have set up an administration password. To disable this behavior, execute the following command in a terminal:

    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.screensaver lock-enabled false

  • Otherwise, you can set up a password to unlock your screen when locking your screen for the first time.


Click Suspend to suspend your computer.

While suspended, your computer is not computing anymore but is still powered on, like if it was standing still but still alive.

To resume from suspend and go back to the Tails desktop, push the power button of your computer.

If you remove your Tails USB stick while suspended, your computer will not shut down immediately and will only shut down when resuming.

An attacker with physical access to your computer and capable of finding your screen locker password or setting up a cold-boot attack can compromise your Tails while suspended.

For more security, shut down Tails entirely.

Desktop shortcuts

Tails documentation to open an offline version of the Tails website and documentation, embeded in Tails
Report an error to report problems about Tails to our team
See our documentation on reporting an error
Trash, where the "deleted" files are moved

The Files browser

To open the Files browser, you can either:

  • Choose Applications ▸ Accessories ▸ Files.

  • Open one of the shortcuts from the Places menu.

To connect to a remote SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) server:

  1. Choose Other Locations in the sidebar of the Files browser.

  2. Specify an SFTP server in Connect to Server at the bottom of the right pane. For example:


  3. Click Connect.