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How To Use Tor (With Polipo) For Beginners

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Before reading on, be sure to read our short tutorial on What Tor is. Clicky

So you've decided that you want to use Tor with Polipo. In this short, beginner's tutorial we'll show you how to use Tor with Polipo.

First things first, you'll need:

  • Firefox (the easiest way)
  • And you'll need to download (and install) Tor. Check out the screenshot below, and then grab the "Vidalia Bundle" as shown below, from this link. Clicky

How to use Tor with polipo
Just make sure to check all of the boxes (including Install the Firefox plugin / extension) in the installation, and let it install. You probably won't need to choose the option to let it start with Windows, but that is your choice.
Once you've got everything installed, run the "Vidalia" program. It's already setup to load Polipo by default once it connects. You'll see the icon in your system tray first turn Yellow as it's connecting, and finally Green once it's actually connected to the Tor network, as shown below:
Connecting to the Tor network for beginners
Once it connects, it silently loads Polipo in the background, and you're all set, the next thing you'll need to do is start Firefox (if it's not already running), and Left-click the "Tor Button" either on your toolbar, or status bar, wherever you have chosen to show it. (It has options to show it as text or an icon, and on a toolbar or your statusbar. I have already chosen to show mine as an Icon on my status bar, as shown below).
how to connect to tor tutorial for newbies
Once you left-click the Tor Button, it'll turn green as shown above, and you're now anonymous in your web surfing!

The first thing you'll always want to do after connecting is to go to an IP displaying website, to confirm that you're connected to Tor and anonymous. I prefer using IP Chicken. Also, see our "How To Do I Find My IP Address" thread.

Tutorial for Tor
You'll notice however, that it still shows YOUR User Agent string. To learn what a User Agent string is and how to easily hide (or change) it, see our User Agent String Tutorial. Changing your User Agent is optional. You don't need to do this, but if you want the extra peace of mind, you can do so.

A few quick things to note:

1. To disable Tor in Firefox, just left-click the Tor Button icon in Firefox again, so that it looks like this:

Tor instructions for newbies and beginners
Once you do that, you're still running Tor (in your system tray), however, your Browser isn't using it, so any web surfing you do is back to it's original state. Your own IP address, you're original surfing speed, and so on. To use Tor again, simply click the Tor button again, until it's green.
2. You may (often) notice that some websites show up in different languages while using Tor. This is because some of the nodes (people) are living there! And you're going through them (the end node is from there), so it returns the website page in that language. Either you can tough it out and try to figure which buttons do what, or you can change your "Tor Identity" and hope you get a new IP in your own language.
Tor newbie tutorial new identity
Changing your "Identity" fetches you a new IP address each time you click it, it may or may not be a faster or better connection.

3.To disconnect from the Tor network, just right click the Tor icon in the system tray, and choose "Stop Tor" or "Exit". It'll also automatically close Polipo for you.

4. You may not be able to get to some websites. Tor has alot of people using it's anonymity to abuse websites. In return, some websites block Tor users, or any user who is on a proxy. when this happens, a page may just seem to hang forever, or you may get some sort of notice or error message.

5. Both Tor and Tor Button have plenty of configuration options that you can play with and tweak. We have shown you the basics on simply how to get up and running on Tor. Feel free to play around with the settings!

6. You may want to try using Tor with Privoxy (or other ways) as well! Be sure to either click the links below, or search/surf GeekDrop for our tutorials for beginners on how to do so!

And that's it!, Happy anonymous surfing!

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