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 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 Name and operating system screen:

    1. Specify:

      • A name of your choice
      • Type: Linux
      • Version: Other Linux (64 bit)
    2. Click Next.

  3. In the Memory size screen:

    1. Allocate at least 2048 MB of RAM.

    2. Click Next.

  4. In the Hard drive screen:

    1. Choose Do not add a virtual hard drive.

    2. Click Create.

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

To configure the virtual machine to start from an ISO image:

  1. Select the new virtual machine in the left pane.

  2. Choose Machine ▸ Settings....

  3. Select System in the left pane.

  4. In the Extended Features section of the Motherboard tab, make sure that Enable I/O APIC is enabled.

  5. Select Storage in the left pane.

  6. Select Empty below Contoller IDE in the Storage Tree selection list in the right pane.

  7. Click on the CD icon on the right of the window and select Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file... to browse for the ISO image you want to start Tails from.

  8. Check the Live CD/DVD option.

  9. Click OK.

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.