How to Access Tor (.Onion) Sites
Tutorial on how to access .onion sites
Many of the sites that we've discussed here thus far have the domain name ".onion." If you're already familiar with Tor, then you can skip this article, but for those of you that aren't, this should help you to get started.
What is Tor?
Tor, in essence, is a volunteer-run network of devices that provide anonymity on the internet. For more about its history, see its official site: Tor Project: About Tor routes your internet traffic through a series of these nodes to help disguise your IP address (and therefore, location and identity). This is known as the "Tor network."
Tor also offers a browser called the "Tor Browser" (which some people confuse with the network itself). The Tor Browser is a modified version of Firefox that uses the Tor network for anonymity and privacy - in fact, if you're accustomed to Firefox, you may notice that the Tor Browser looks similar.
The Tor Browser
You can use Tor to browse the "clearnet" (the reciprocal term to "darknet" or "dark web") anonymously, as above, but you can also access ".onion" sites (also known as "Tor hidden services") with it anonymously. Just as Tor keeps users like you anonymous, it also anonymizes the sites on its network. To download the Tor Browser, visit Download Tor.
The site has several different versions of the Tor Browser, including one for Windows, Apple OS X, Linux, and Android.
There is also a Tor Browser for Android on the Google Play Store: Tor Browser - Google Play. In addition, there is a version for iOS devices known as Onion Browser, which you can find at Onion Browser: Tor for iPhone and iPad.
Note: make sure that you only download Tor from these official sites, as other versions may contain malware or may not be safe for other reasons.
How to Access Onion Sites
Once you have the browser installed and are connected to the network, you should be able to access .onion sites. Nonetheless, this is where many people get hung up, as .onion sites aren't always listed in obvious places. Many are found on link lists, such as this one: darkfailllnkf4vf.onion/; the site in question is called dark.fail, and is a list of darknet markets and other popular onion sites.
If you're able to access this site and other onion sites, then you are successfully connected to Tor. It's worth noting, however, that many onion sites go offline frequently, so just because you're unable to access one, this doesn't mean that you've lost your connection entirely.
A word of caution: if you're brand new to Tor, be aware that there are numerous scams and phishing sites included among the onions, so it's fair to say that you should take every claim with a grain of salt. If a site appears to be untrustworthy, then it probably is. There are other aspects to Tor which we may cover in future articles, so keep an eye out. If you have questions, please leave a comment.