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** Disclaimer: This isn’t the intended use of Tails **

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t do this. But if you want to experiment with tails from a virtual machine (like on VirtualBox) but load from USB, then this might help you along the way.

Also this works on MacOSX mostly.

Step by step

Find out how your usb is called

$ diskutil list

Then unmount it:

$ diskutil unmountdisk /dev/disk2

Because VirtualBox process can only read/write files owned by the your current user you have to change the permission of the device.

sudo chown hiro /dev/disk2

Prepare the VMDK on VirtualBox:

VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename /Users/hiro/Documents/usbdrive.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/disk2

RAW host disk access VMDK file /Users/hiro/Documents/usbdrive.vmdk created successfully

Unmount it again:

$ diskutil unmountdisk /dev/disk2

Now you can use your USB VMDK on VirtualBox where you select the storage for the machine and boot from there.

With certain USB you have also to modify the Tails boot loader:

Start Tails and enter the Bootloader Menu by hitting (e) for edit.

Remove the boot option:


If you don’t want to do this at every run you have to access the EFI Shell and modify grub options editing the configs under fs0:\efi\boot\.