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 are two menus:

  • the Applications menu
  • the Places menu

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 ▸ Devices

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

Seahorse: to manage your OpenPGP keys choose Utilities ▸ Passwords and Keys
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: browse the World Wide Web
See the corresponding documentation
Thunderbird: email client
See the corresponding documentation
Pidgin: instant messaging client
See the corresponding documentation
KeePassXC: password manager
See the corresponding documentation
Files: the Files manager
See the corresponding documentation

GNOME Terminal: use the command line

Places menu

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

Tor status and circuits

The Tor status icon and Onion Circuits allow you to view the status of Tor. See the corresponding documentation.

OpenPGP applet

Using the OpenPGP Applet you can encrypt and decrypt the clipboard using OpenPGP. See the corresponding documentation.

Universal access

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

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.

System settings

Click on the Settings button to edit your system settings.

These settings will not be saved when you restart Tails.

Screen locker

Click on the Lock Screen button 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:

    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 on the Suspend button 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.


Click on the Restart button to restart your computer.


Click on the Power Off button to shut down your computer.

Activities overview

To access your windows and applications you can either:

  • Choose Applications ▸ Activities Overview.
  • Throw your mouse pointer to the top-left hot corner.
  • Press the windows 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.

Desktop shortcuts

Tails documentation: open a local copy of Tails website and documentation
Report an error: help you troubleshoot Tails
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.