It is possible to run Tails in a virtual machine using VirtualBox from a Windows, Linux, or macOS host operating system.

Running Tails inside a virtual machine has various security implications. Depending on the host operating system and your security needs, running Tails in a virtual machine might be dangerous.

VirtualBox has a free software version, called VirtualBox Open Source Edition and some proprietary components, for example to add support for USB devices.

For security reasons, we recommend you to use only the Open Source Edition, though it does not allow the use of a Persistent Storage.

Security considerations for Windows and macOS

In our security warnings about virtualization we recommend to run Tails in a virtual machine only if the host operating system is trustworthy.

Microsoft Windows and macOS being proprietary software, they cannot be considered trustworthy. Only run Tails in a virtual machine on Windows or macOS for testing purposes and do not rely on it for security.


To install VirtualBox in Debian or Ubuntu, execute the following command:

sudo apt install virtualbox

For instructions on how to install VirtualBox on other operating systems, refer to the VirtualBox documentation.

Running Tails from an ISO image

  1. Download Tails as an ISO image, instead of a USB image.

  2. Start VirtualBox.

To create a new virtual machine:

  1. Choose Machine ▸New....

  2. In the dialog Virtual machine Name and Operating System:

    1. Specify:

      • Name: a name of your choice

      • ISO Image: the ISO image that you want to start Tails from

    2. Click Expert Mode.

  3. In the dialog Hardware:

    1. Allocate at least 2048 MB of RAM.

    2. Click Next.

  4. In the dialog Virtual Hard disk:

    1. Choose Do not add a virtual hard drive.

    2. Click Next.

    3. Click Continue in the warning dialog about creating a virtual machine without a hard drive.

To start the new virtual machine:

  1. Select the virtual machine in the left pane.

  2. Click Start.

VirtualBox Guest Additions has been removed since Tails 4.27. As a result:

  • The shared clipboard feature of VirtualBox is unavailable.

  • The screen resolution of Tails can't be changed by resizing the virtual machine window in the host OS. The screen resolution must be changed from inside Tails.

    To change the screen resolution from inside Tails, choose Applications ▸ System Tools ▸ Settings ▸ Displays ▸ Resolution.

    You might also need to adjust the virtual machine window in the host OS to fit the new screen resolution.

We plan to add back VirtualBox Guest Additions in a future version of Tails. See #18728.