5 Free Alternative SSH Clients to Use on macOS – PuTTY, iTerm2 and More!

PuTTY is something that people who deal with servers continuously use. This utility is basically an SSH client that connects to your server securely and allows you to push commands to your servers remotely. If you’ve recently moved to macOS, then you might be thinking about alternatives to PuTTY or any other one of your favorite Windows or Linux SSH programs.

Sadly, PuTTY has no support for macOS which can be a shocker for someone who is very used to PuTTY. Switching to a new SSH client can get a bit inconvenient but trust me when I say this, macOS is the best platform for development work and you will see why in this post. We have posted the five best alternatives to PuTTY for macOS including macOS’s very own Terminal. Let’s get started.

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Terminal SSH macOS

Terminal is to macOS what Command Prompt/PowerShell is to Windows. This is a very powerful command line interface or CLI that is set as default on macOS. Not only does it allow you to run commands to change stuff locally, but you can also SSH into a server using Terminal quite easily.

To SSH into a server using Terminal, you just need the following command:

ssh <server_name> -p <port> -l <login>

Here, you just need to replace three things:

  • server_name
  • port
  • login

The login will be your username to into the server. Once entered, the Terminal will automatically ask you for password and it will work just as normal SSH works.

Since Terminal is a default CLI for macOS, mentioning it first was logical since anyone can easily try using Terminal and see if they are comfortable with the things around there. If not, then move on to any other one of the SSH clients listed below.

vSSH Lite

vSSH Lite - SSH Client for macOS

When it comes to vSSH, it is completely a program that was coded by keeping SSH and Telnet based applications in mind. It isn’t a Terminal replacement for macOS at all. You do get a command line interface where you can connect to an SSH server using your login details. vSSH Lite also has other features where it can allow you to connect to a server using a public or private key.

vSSH Lite can also create iCloud based connections so that you can share your macros across devices that use iCloud. This feature makes it possible for you to use this client even on devices like an iPhone or an iPad.


DTerm - SSH Client for macOS

DTerm is supposed to be a Terminal replacement app for macOS and the best part about DTerm is the fact that it is a context-sensitive command line application. In simple terms, this can easily be launched over any window you have open and it can run commands for the files that you are currently working on. This is an extremely time-saving approach where instead of using the CD command in the Terminal, you can simply open up a folder and get started with the files right away.

When you use DTerm, you need to use the default DTerm launching shortcut, which is Command + ENTER/Return and you will notice that DTerm will launch a Terminal window in the chosen directory. You can also take advantage of the autocompletion for commands.


iTerm2 - SSH Client for macOS

Another Terminal replacement for macOS with a lot of added useful features that you won’t usually see in Terminal. This program can easily fulfill your SSH needs since it is a full-fledged SSH functionality and can do a lot of things including having split-windows, support for annotations so that you can add notes and comments for the commands that you run.

You also have support for playback for the commands you ran on iTerm which isn’t a feature on Terminal. You also get a great search feature which will find and highlight every occurrence of something that you’re searching. This search option works exactly the way it does on Safari or Chrome.


Shuttle - SSH Client for macOS

Shuttle is not really a full-fledged app but it is a shortcut to your SSH connected servers. Apart from that, Shuttle can be used to run commands and script with some changes. All you need to do after the configuration is that you need to click on the shortcut. Shuttle’s SSH functionality depends mainly on shuttle.json file which can be edited using a Text Editor to configure your SSH connections to the server. Once edited, you will see an SSH shortcut on the menu bar from where you can easily SSH into your server(s).

Wrapping it up!

Since PuTTY isn’t available on macOS, the direct replacement for it, on the platform can either be Terminal or vSSH Lite as mentioned in the post. Even Shuttle is a great app to use if you want to make the management of your SSH servers and their configuration easy to access. Other apps such as DTerm will make it easier for you to connect to an SSH server using Terminal without browsing through different directories on your system.

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