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RetroShare allows you to share files securely with your friends. It also allows downloads from friends of friends using anonymous tunnels, if the uploader allows it.


Sharing your files

RetroShare offers many ways to offer files to a single friend, to all your friends or even to friends of friends. An important concept for this are RetroShare links. These links can, among other things, point to any file in the RetroShare network. They can be distributed everywhere in RetroShare, i.e. various chats, forums, messages, channels.

If you want to share files that somehow belong together, e.g. pictures from holiday, you can create a RetroShare collection file and send this file to your friends. They can open the collection file and download all files linked in it.

Adding shared folders

The easiest way to get your files into RetroShare is to add a shared folder, all files in this folder will be hashed (that means a fingerprint for each file is created) and can then be shared in the program.

Shares can be added by clicking the :

  • RetroShare v0.5 : on the left-hand toolbar "Add Share" button (yellow).
  • RetroShare v0.6 : on the top toolbar "File Sharing" button, then "My Files" tab, then "Add Share" button.

When adding a shared folder you have two options, how to share it:

  • "Browsable": your friends can see which files you share and only they can download files.
  • "Network wide": not only your friends, but also their friends and their friends and ..., can download files from this folder via anonymous tunnels. Those friends of friends can't see which files you are sharing, but they can find them using the Search, however they won't know the file(s) comes from you.

You can set three flags: B-B-N

  • first B (green): "Browsable" for friends in selected groups
  • second B (blue): "Browsable" for all friends
  • N (blue): "Network wide" for all friends

Remark: Your shared files will not immediately appear in the directory listing, because first RetroShare has to hash the files so it knows what you are sharing. This can take 2 minutes or up to 1 hour, depending on how many files you are sharing.


The RetroShare Search finds files from two different sources. The first are the "Browsable" shared folders of your friends. Files in those folders are also found when the friend is currently offline. The second source comes from anonymous tunnels. These are the files shared as "Network wide" by your friends, their friends and so on, up to 7 hops.

You can differentiate the two by looking at the "Age" column. All files found via anonymous tunnels have an age of "<1 min".

The files have different colors:

  • black: the file has only one source
  • blue: the file has more than one source
  • red: you already have the file

Sending files in chats

If you want to send a file in one of the chats (group chat, chat lobby or private chat), you have two options:

  • If the file is in your shared folders: Copy the RetroShare link of the file from the Files tab and simply paste it in the chat.
  • Otherwise: Click on the yellow folder icon with a "+" below the chat box and select the file. The file is then hashed and the link automatically pasted in the chat window. This file is then added to a so called "Extra" file list. Files in this list can be downloaded network wide but cannot be found using the Search.

Sending files in messages

Even though you could paste RetroShare links in the message text it is recommended to paste the RetroShare link in the box below "Recommended Files" (by right clicking). The advantage of this is that the receiver can simply click the button with the two green arrows on the right of "Recommended Files" and download all files in the message. If you want to send a file that's not in your shared folders, click on "Attach" to add it (This file is then also put in the "Extra" file list).

Distributing files in channels

This works pretty much the same as with messages, with the difference of course that a channel post doesn't have only one receiver. Once you have created a channel or received the publish key for another one from one of your friends, you can create a post. Then you can either paste a RetroShare link in the Attachment field or add any other file by clicking "Add file to attach". This file is then also added to the "Extra" file list.

Distributing files in forums

In a forum you can only post RetroShare links. Simply right click and select "Paste RetroShare link". If you want to download all links in a post click the button with the two arrows.

File transfers tab

No matter where you start downloading a file from, all downloads end up in the Transfers tab. If more than one friend has the file, it will be download from all of them at once (Segmented file transfer method, formerly swarming file transfer).


RetroShare has a limit of how many file can be downloaded simultaneously. If more files are downloaded they are queued and started when another download finishes, or becomes stalled if the source went offline. Currently there are also cache files (used to distribute forums and channels) that might fill up the download queue. Therefore there's a number of slots reserved for non-cache transfers. This can be set up in the options.

Example: Queue size: 10, slots reserved for non-cache: 3
At least 3 non-cache files are downloaded, if the are less then 7 cache downloads, the free slots are also used for non-cache files

Controlling a download

By right clicking on a download you can control how a file is downloaded:

  • Priority: Increasing the priority tells RetroShare to increase the download speed faster, so other files won't get as much of the available bandwidth.
  • Chunk strategy: "Streaming" downloads chunks in order from the beginning, so you can preview a file. "Random" provides faster download because it has the advantage that if many people download a file they don't all download the same chunks and can share more of them among themselves. "Progressive" behaves almost like the random mode but reduces the freezes under windows that happen when you create a multi-GB file (by getting a random block between the start and [farthest block downloaded + 50 MB]).
  • Pause/Resume: pauses the download, however it still keeps its download slot.
  • Move in queue: Move the file up or down in the download queue. Choose "Top" to start downloading the file immediately.
  • Cancel: Remove the file from the transfers list and delete the partially downloaded file.
  • Copy RetroShare link: Copy the link to reshare it with other friends.
This page is part of RetroShare Documentation
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
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