How to SSH on a Mac with Terminal: A Comprehensive Guide

Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett - Contributing Editor
How to SSH on a Mac with Terminal A Comprehensive Guide

In an era where seamless connectivity is paramount, mastering essential tools like Secure Shell (SSH) can be a game-changer for Mac users. SSH provides a secure channel for remote access to other devices or servers, enabling you to execute commands and transfer files with confidence. This comprehensive guide is designed to demystify the process of SSH-ing on a Mac using the Terminal.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just beginning to explore the world of command-line interfaces, this guide will walk you through the steps, from understanding the basics to executing advanced SSH operations.

How to SSH on a Mac with Terminal A Comprehensive Guide

Get ready to unlock the full potential of your SSH Client on Mac and streamline your remote operations with this step-by-step tutorial.

1. Opening Terminal

  • To start with SSH on your Mac, you need to open Terminal. You can do this by following either of the two methods:
  • Using Spotlight: Press Command + Space to open Spotlight, type “Terminal,” and hit Enter when Terminal appears in the search results.
  • Using Finder: Open Finder, go to Applications > Utilities, and double-click on the Terminal icon.

2. Initiating the SSH Connection

  • Once you have Terminal open, you can establish an SSH connection by following these steps:
  • Determine the IP address or domain name of the remote server you want to connect to.

In the Terminal window, type the following command to initiate the SSH connection:

ssh username@ip-address

Replace “username” with your username on the remote server and “ip-address” with the actual IP address or domain name of the server.

Press Enter, and Terminal will attempt to establish the SSH connection. If it’s your first time connecting to the server, you’ll be asked to confirm the server’s authenticity by typing “yes” and pressing Enter.

Next, enter your password when prompted (your password will not be visible as you type) and press Enter. If you have set up SSH keys for authentication, you may not be prompted for a password.

3. Navigating and Managing SSH Sessions

Once you’re connected to the remote server via SSH, you can navigate and manage the session effectively. Here are a few essential commands:

  • cd directory: Change the current directory to “directory.”
  • ls: List the files and directories in the current directory.
  • mkdir directory: Create a new directory named “directory.”
  • rm file: Delete a file named “file.”
  • cp source destination: Copy the file or directory from “source” to “destination.”
  • mv source destination: Move or rename the file or directory from “source” to “destination.”

4. Exiting an SSH Session

To exit an SSH session and return to your local machine’s Terminal, you can use one of the following methods:

  • Type exit and press Enter.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut Control + D.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I SSH into my own Mac from another device?

Yes, you can SSH into your own Mac from another device as long as you have enabled Remote Login in the Sharing preferences. You can then use the SSH command with your Mac’s IP address or hostname to establish the connection.

How do I find the IP address of my Mac?

To find the IP address of your Mac, go to System Preferences > Network. Select your active network connection (Wi-Fi or Ethernet) and look for the IP address listed. Alternatively, you can also use the ifconfig command in Terminal to find your IP address.

Can I use SSH without a password?

Yes, you can set up SSH key-based authentication, which allows you to log in without entering a password each time. This involves generating an SSH key pair on your local machine and copying the public key to the remote server. The server will then allow you to log in using the corresponding private key without a password.

Is SSH secure?

Yes, SSH is considered a secure protocol as it encrypts the data transmitted between the client and the server, ensuring confidentiality and integrity. However, it’s important to keep your SSH client and server software up to date to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities.

Can I transfer files over SSH?

Yes, you can transfer files over SSH using the scp (secure copy) command. It allows you to securely copy files between your local machine and a remote server using the SSH protocol.


SSH is a powerful tool that enables secure remote access and management of servers or devices. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can SSH into a Mac using Terminal and perform various tasks efficiently. Whether you’re a system administrator, a developer, or an enthusiast, mastering SSH on your Mac will undoubtedly enhance your productivity and enable seamless remote administration.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett Contributing Editor
Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.