A simplistic tutorial on how to install and run Tails OS on any modern Apple computer.

What is Tails?

Click here for more information on how Tails works!

What will you need?

– A mac os system (iMac, Macbook Pro, Mac Mini, etc.)
Parallels Desktop App (free trial version – no card or personal info needed to download)
– A USB flash drive (4 GB minimum; 8+ GB recommended)

Step-by-step Instructions:

Step 1:
Head over to Parallels Desktop’s install page for Mac OS and begin to download the free trial for Mac OS. You will not need to add a card, enter an email to get spammed, or sign up for a subscription; Parallels allows new customers access to try their product for 14 days hassle-free. Click “Download Now” (the blue button on the bottom right of the below image).

Screenshot from the Parallels Desktop’s Install Page

Step 2:
While that is busy downloading, head on over to the Tails website’s install page for DVDs and install the iso for the latest software update. Select the direct download option on the left.

Screenshot from the Tails Website’s USB Stick Download

Step 3:
Open the Parallels Desktop install image that you just downloaded in step 1 and proceed with the simple step by step install. If you have a previous version installed already, the installer will remove it and install the newest version. After the install, Parallels Desktop should run automatically.

Step 4:
In the top left of the toolbar for Parallels Desktop, click FIle > New, if the Installation Assistant does not automatically pop up. Once at this screen, click “Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or Image File” (the option in the center with a disk and USB) and click “Continue” in the bottom right. The tails image may already be recognized by the Installation Assistant as shown in the third screenshot below. If so, click it (it will say “.iso” at the end)! If not, press “Choose Manually” and manually locate the .iso file from wherever you downloaded it. Name it whatever you’d like and press “Create”.

Step 5:
One the bootable image is created, you will need to wait a few seconds while Tails boots up and loads your home screen (shown below). At the top left, click Applications > Tails > Tails Installer. This will open the Tails Installer app and allow you to clone this version of tails onto your USB image.

Step 6:
Once the Tails installer is running, ensure that “Clone Current Tails” is selected and plug your desired USB drive into your Mac. Once it’s plugged in, OS X may prompt you to decide where to connect the USB drive, if so, select the Debian GNU option (Tails). In the Installer, click Install/Upgrade to create your bootable USB image. Once completed, you can hit “Done” and force quit the Parallels Desktop app. It will not be needed anymore. You can also completely uninstall it from your mac if you’d like.

Step 7:
Restart your Mac and hold control after you hear the startup chime. Once the boot screen shows up, select the USB drive. It is usually called “EFI” or some variation of it. Once selected, Tails will boot up and you’re all good to go! If you would like to keep your Tails system after you turn your device off, make sure you create a persistent, encrypted drive.

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