How to Get Secure Connections on macOS With SSH

Enable SSH on your macOS system to securely access your Mac from different devices without any security compromises.

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macos ssh sharing

Numerous techniques exist for establishing remote connections to and overseeing computer systems. FTP, RDP, and similar methods are available, yet they lack robust security measures. However, the SSH protocol has supplanted outdated and vulnerable protocols with enhanced security features. Its primary function revolves around providing a mechanism to remotely enter a computer from an alternate device.

By default, Apple disables the SSH function on Mac computers, necessitating manual activation for utilization. This instructional manual demonstrates the process of enabling and effectively employing SSH to establish secure connections on your Macintosh machine.

What Is SSH?

SSH, an acronym for “Secure Shell” or “Secure Socket Shell,” represents a secure protocol for network communication. Its primary application is to enable secure connections to remote devices.

The foundation of SSH rests on encrypted keys called SSH keys, which serve as authentication credentials and adhere to an encryption protocol. While the process of generating SSH keys on Windows involves a third-party SSH client, macOS provides the capability to create these keys directly through the Terminal application.

Commonly, SSH functions across port 22 and boasts a range of utilities beyond mere remote device connectivity. It encompasses secure file transfers and the establishment of encrypted tunnels. Moreover, individuals in possession of a GitHub account can leverage SSH to authenticate without passwords. This functionality is also inherent in Unix, Linux, and macOS servers, configured by default.

How to Enable an SSH Server on Your macOS

Apple offers an SSH server within the macOS system, and activating it for use is a straightforward process. You can effortlessly enable the SSH server on your Mac by adhering to these uncomplicated guidelines:

  1. Open System Settings on your Mac.
  2. Navigate to General and Sharing.
macos sharing ssh
  1. Activate the switch beside Remote Login and tap the Information (i) icon adjacent to it. The login command for the SSH server can be located under Remote Login. For example, in our situation, it appears as “ssh [email protected].”
macos ssh sharing remote login
  1. Activate the option to Allow full disk access for remote user. Additionally, you have the ability to modify the preferences for determining which individuals can connect to your SSH server.
macos remote users enabled

After completion, your Mac will have an operational SSH server available for your utilization.

How to Connect to Your Mac’s SSH Server

Once you’ve activated Remote Login on your Mac, you can conveniently reach it from various devices, regardless of the system they run on. This is possible as long as the device you’re using has a command-line interface and shares the same network connection with your Mac. To illustrate, we will demonstrate how to connect to your Mac’s SSH server from an iOS device using Termius. However, it’s important to note that SSH can also be utilized on Windows computers for the same purpose.

  1. Download and launch Termius on your iOS device.
  2. Click the icon with three horizontal lines (also known as the hamburger menu) and choose the option labeled “Terminals.”
  3. Input the login command that you had discovered earlier beneath the Remote Login switch on macOS, then press the Connect button.
  4. Provide your Mac’s login password and tap the Continue button.

Subsequently, you will gain entry to your Mac’s file system using the terminal. Within the SSH server, you’ll be able to carry out a range of commands like ls, cd, mkdir, rm, cp, and additional functions.


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