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The 5 best SSH clients for Mac

by Geek Insider Staff

Secure Shell (SSH) network protocol provides an encrypted connection that allows you to access another computer remotely. In other words, you run programs and open files even when the computer is in a different location. Most of the modern computers, including Macs, have SSH built-in. This feature makes it easy to telecommute and access all your needed files. But with the wide variety of SSH clients, you need to find the best for your Mac. Below is a detailed list of the favorite Mac SSH clients you should consider. 

  1. Terminal

Terminal is the default application that lets you access and run SSH built into your Mac. You can find the Terminal on your device by opening the “Applications” folder and clicking “Utilities.” 

Once the Terminal is open, you can initiate an SSH connection to log into a remote computer by pasting “ssh user@IP-Address.” Replace the “user” in the command with your system’s username and the “IP-Address” with the remote server’s IP address. 

Now you can run programs and access files on other computers through commands. Since Terminal is text-based, you don’t need a graphical system. You only type your commands and hit “Enter” to conduct any action on another system. 

Using Terminal might be a bit of a hassle if you haven’t used it before or know nothing about coding. However, you can find Terminal commands sheets to guide you on your input for a specific command. If you have a background in commands, it’s a plus for you, given that the client is free and already on your device. 

  1. PuTTY for Mac

PuTTY is a popular Windows application that helps connect to SSH servers. Similarly, PuTTY for Mac creates a Terminal window that runs commands when accessing computers remotely. Since Windows doesn’t have a built-in Terminal, PuTTY fills the gap. 

Rather than using the Terminal windows, you can log in with the graphical user interface (GUI) found in PuTTY for Mac. The GUI helps you back up information, so you don’t have to write passwords down for future reference. PuTTY for Mac also saves your SSH session information such as the port number and IP address, thus saving your time when switching between computers. 

Generally, PuTTY for Mac works like Terminal when it comes to operation. So, you can restrict your activity to Terminal instead of downloading a different application for similar functions. 

However, you may still want to download and use PuTTY if you’re familiar with it from Windows or want to save your session and login information. 

  1. iTerm2

iTerm2 is the SSH client for you if you have problems working on Terminal. The client is a perfect Terminal replacement that comes with extra valuable features.

Some of the additional features that iTerm2 offers include split panes allowing you to operate multiple Terminal windows simultaneously. The SSH lets you search through an iTerm2 Terminal for any command or word to get the code quickly. 

Also, iTerm2 enables easier copy and pasting than PuTTY for Mac as it stores all the copy history so you can find any item no matter the time you copied it. The client also has an “Instant Replay” mode to recover changed or deleted text. 

When it comes to SSH, iTerm2 keeps you informed on your current directory and navigates you back to previous commands when you click “Shift + Cmd + Down Arrow” or “Shift + Cmd + Up Arrow.”

The SSH client also tracks the directories you visit most and keeps them as your favorites helping you access them faster. Besides, you can set up alternate profiles to utilize the different permission levels and access other SSH connections. 

iTerm2’s “autocomplete code” options and the hotkey functionality make it incredible for SSH connection and Terminal function in general.  

If you are not much familiar with Terminal, iTerm2 may present a bit of a learning curve. However, understanding the SSH connection would improve your Terminal mastery, although the additional features might spoil you. 

  1. Termius

Termius works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and smartphones meaning that you can connect to different SSH servers and iOS devices. The compatibility with so many devices makes Termius the solid option for encrypting and sending data for all the devices you need to access. 

Although Termius isn’t a Terminal replacement like iTerm2, it has a similar ability to save commands and autocomplete feature on the command line text. You don’t have to use the command line to download files via the connection as Termius has a GUI for Secure file transfer Protocol (SFTP). 

The additional features and enhanced security make Termius a more accessible SSH client than other options in this list. However, you need to pay about $8 every month for the Termius premium version. Alternatively, you can opt for the free basic version without SFTP GUI security and has similar functionality and features to other options.

  1. ZOC Terminal

ZOC Terminal is another emulator that works exceptionally as an SSH client on Mac. The Terminal emulator is popular for features that keep users organized when operating multiple computers and dealing with multiple files.  

ZOC uses different tabs and colors to help you distinguish the various activities you are engaged in. It also records hosts and folders for you, which are colored for quick identification and access. The record allows you to scroll back in a session, see all your inputs, and repeat them if you like. 

The ZOC terminal is also highly customizable as you can fully create hotkey shortcuts for specific commands. This happens when you remap your keyboard inside the Terminal and utilize the customizable button bars and F-Macro keys for commands. 

Still, you need some knowledge in Terminal to efficiently use ZOC. If you have the expertise and want a client that replaces Terminal with more customization and organization, ZOC is the best fit. 

If you don’t find the built-in SSH connection on your Mac appealing, you can utilize other clients with unique features. The clients discussed here have features to help you seamlessly use SSH connections to access other devices. Scrutinize the options provided and find an SSH client that meets your needs.

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