Communicating with sources


SecureDrop Workstation is currently in a closed beta, and we do not recommend installing it for production purposes independently. See our blog post for more information.

SecureDrop Workstation lets journalists check SecureDrop, decrypt and securely view submissions, and reply to sources, all on the same computer.

Once logged in, you will see a chat-like user interface consisting of three panels:

  • The leftmost panel shows your username, if you are logged in, or the sign-in button.

  • The middle panel holds the list of sources that have submitted to your instance. Each source is identified to you with a two word pseudonym.

  • The rightmost panel holds the conversation view. All parts of the conversation with a specific source (messages, files, and journalist replies) will be displayed here.

Opening a conversation

To display a conversation in the conversation view, simply click a source in the source list.


Journalists sending replies are assigned different colors and identified with their initials. Move your mouse pointer over the initials to reveal the full name.


When you are prompted by a dialog that says “Do you allow VM ‘sd-app’ to access your GPG keys (now and for the following 28800 seconds)?”, click Yes. This allows the SecureDrop Application VM access to the secure VM that holds your SecureDrop Submission Key.

Highlighting conversations

You can highlight important conversations by clicking on the star beside a source’s name. Starred sources will be visible as starred to everyone in your organization.

Sending a reply

Compose a reply to the selected source in the text box at the bottom of the conversation view. Click the paper airplane icon or press “Ctrl+Enter” to send a reply. Any replies you did not send will be discarded when you exit the client.


Sources without reply keys

You may sometimes see the text “Awaiting encryption key from server” in a grayed out reply box for a source. This typically happens when a source has just contacted your SecureDrop, and the server has not created an encryption key yet. If you are logged in, the key will be automatically fetched as soon as it becomes available. At that point, the reply box will become available.

Deleting a conversation

You can delete a source conversation by clicking on the three dots at the top righthand side of the application window, beside the timestamp. You should see a dropdown menu with two options: Files and messages and Entire source account.


Click Files and messages to delete all files and messages (including journalist replies) associated with this source, while keeping the source account active. The source will continue to appear in the source list, and will be able to communicate with you through the Source Interface.

Click Entire source account to also remove the source from the source list, and to prevent them from logging into the Source Interface. Their account will be completely removed from the system.