Opened 6 years ago

Last modified 11 months ago

#14139 new defect

Tor browser shares its last search term with other browsers on OSX

Reported by: clashman Owned by: tbb-team
Priority: Medium Milestone:
Component: Applications/Tor Browser Version:
Severity: Normal Keywords: osx
Cc: bugreporter69, ononvsdno, mSUIcXNPzcq3idq Actual Points:
Parent ID: Points:
Reviewer: Sponsor:


On OSX, all browsers (tested chrome, firefox, tor, safari) seem to share the content of the last search term of a page search (ctrl-f). So when I do a website search with the Tor browser on OSX and type anything into the text field, that search term is copied over to some kind of search term clipboard that is then used by all my installed browsers (chrome, firefox, tor, safari) as the predefined search term. This does not happen on linux.

The behaviour I would expect is that no information I enter into the Tor browser should leak to other programs on my computer.

Child Tickets

Change History (7)

comment:1 Changed 6 years ago by clashman

Summary: Tor browser does not delete its last search term before exitTor browser shares its last search term with other browsers on OSX

comment:2 Changed 6 years ago by mcs

It seems to me that when operating in private browsing mode, the search string should be cleared upon exit and it probably should not be shared with other applications at all. On Mac OS, there is a "find clipboard" which is to share this info.; see the clipboardSearchString setter here for the code that (I believe) shares the search string with the system:

I am not 100% sure if other platforms support this concept or not, but it does not look like it.

comment:3 Changed 6 years ago by teor

Keywords: osx added

Background on OS X Pasteboards

There are 5 standard OS X pasteboards:

  • NSGeneralPboard—for cut, copy, and paste
  • NSRulerPboard—for copy and paste of rulers
  • NSFontPboard—for cut, copy, and paste of NSFont objects
  • NSFindPboard—application-specific find panels can share a sought after text value
  • NSDragPboard—for graphical drag and drop operations


Like command-C for Copy and command-V for Paste, the Find Pasteboard can be accessed using command-E for Save to Find Pasteboard and command-G for Find Text on Find Pasteboard.

One (non-recommended) method of disabling the Find Pasteboard is to swizzle the Objective-C functions responsible for accessing pasteboards, replacing them with a version that ignores requests for the Find Pasteboard. This seems to be overkill.

Issues with Disabling the Find Pasteboard

If we never write anything to the Find Pasteboard:

  • will this stop Find Again / command-G working? (maybe)
    • or will we have to provide our own implementation of Find Again? (maybe)
  • should we continue to allow the General and Drag Pasteboards to work, even in incognito mode? (yes, this is what users expect)
  • could the Ruler or Font Pasteboards ever leak enough information to be an issue? (unlikely)

comment:4 Changed 3 years ago by gk

Cc: bugreporter69 added
Severity: Normal

Resolved #22048 as a duplicate.

comment:5 Changed 3 years ago by gk

Cc: ononvsdno added

Resolved #22529 as duplicate.

comment:6 Changed 11 months ago by gk

Keywords: tbb-parity added; osx removed

comment:7 Changed 11 months ago by pili

Cc: mSUIcXNPzcq3idq added
Keywords: osx added; tbb-parity removed

#32733 is a duplicate

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