Check tutorial of Enable Remote Login to Start SSH Server in Mac OS X
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Remote login is one feature in Mac OS X’s Sharing preferences that allow remote users to securely connect to a Mac using the OpenSSH protocols. Essentially, Remote Login starts an SSH server on a Mac, which provides the ability to accept incoming SSH connections, and is the secure replacement for telnet. Moreover, this is feature includes and enables the SFTP server, which is the secure replacement for FTP, and finally it also allows SCP for secure remote file copying. If this sounds complicated or confusing, it really isn’t, and we’ll walk right through it how to quickly switch on and set up the SSH server on a Mac so that it can accept incoming secure ssh, sftp and scp connections.
How to Enable SSH and SFTP server in Mac OS X with remote login
By starting the “Remote Login” service, you enable SSH and SFTP servers in Mac OS X. These instructions are the same for enabling remote login and associated SSH servers in macOS Mojave 10.14, macOS High Sierra 10.13, macOS Sierra 10.12, OS X El Capitan 10.11, Yosemite 10.10, OS X Mavericks 10.9, 10.8 Mountain Lion, 10.7 Lion, and 10.6 Snow Leopard.
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu and click the “Sharing” preference pane
- Check the box next to “Remote Login” to enable it, as the screenshot indicates
Clicking the checkbox will immediately start the various remote login servers including sftp and ssh.
If you want to restrict incoming SSH access to certain users, you can do so in the same preference pane by checking “These users only” and then adding them manually by clicking the + icon. This brings up a list of users and groups on the Mac to choose from. Consider this an extra security step, although SSH is quite secure by default, as it is due to the nature of the protocol.
Now that the SSH server is enabled, you can check if they are enabled if you want. The easiest way to do this is to visit the Terminal app and type either ‘ssh localhost’ or ‘sftp localhost’ which, if everything is working properly, should return something like this:
$ sftp localhost The authenticity of the host ‘localhost (:: 1)’ cannot be determined. fingerprint of the RSA key is b3: 42: 27: 4a: b6: 22: 86: 4b: c6: 21: 32: 47: 4b: 8b: 18: 0d Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes / No)? yes Warning: ‘localhost’ (RSA) permanently added to the list of known hosts. password:
Connecting to localhost isn’t all that convenient though, and it’s called Remote Login for a reason, as it allows secure connections to remote Macs via the SSH command line interface, SFTP via any modern FTP / SFTP client, or with a direct file transfer using the scp command from the terminal of other Macs or Unix machines. We will mainly focus on the SSH and SFTP side of things as that is generally the most needed.
Remotely connect to the Mac SSH server
Now that you have SSH up and running is connecting remotely. The great thing about this is that you can now connect to the Mac from virtually any other operating system, all you need is an SSH client. SSH clients are bundled with Mac OS X and Linux so no downloads are needed there, you can just open the Terminal and use the ‘ssh’ commands, but iOS users can use Prompt and Windows users can get PuTTY ( it is free).
1) From the Mac acting as an SSH server:
First, you’ll want to grab the IP address of the Mac the server is running on so that another user / client knows what to connect to:
- Get the Mac’s IP Address – Go to “System Preferences” and “Network” to get the IP address
2) Connect to the Mac with SSH from another computer:
Now with the server’s IP address, the Mac can be connected to:
- We’ll assume you’re using the Terminal in Mac OS X, so use the IP address you just found and use the following command syntax:
- This is what it would look like, with paul as the username and 192.168.0.25 as the server IP:
- You will be asked to accept an RSA key for your list of known hosts, so type “yes” and then you will be asked for the user password
- You are now remotely connected to the Mac via SSH
You will now be logged into the Mac via SSH, either remotely or via a local network, and all traffic to and from the machines is securely encrypted.
Users with knowledge of terminals may also find it helpful to know that you can enable and disable the SSH server from the Mac command line, as discussed here.
Connect to the Mac via SFTP
Since Remote Login enables both SSH and SFTP, you can now also securely connect to the Mac via the sftp protocol. This can be done through the Terminal, or through third-party SFTP apps such as CyberDuck, Transmit, Filezilla, or even from Mac OS X itself to transfer files to and from the Mac from another location. A direct SFTP service link would look something like this: sftp: //192.168.0.100
From the Terminal and the command line, you would use the following command syntax to connect to the SFTP server:
sftp user @ remote_host
If you want to use SCP instead, the procedure is the same, except you use ‘scp’ as the commands instead.
A few things to remember: your local IP address (on a LAN) is different from your external IP address (to the outside world). The easiest way to get a machine’s external IP address is to go to a site like ‘whatismyip.org’, but keep in mind that if the Mac is behind a router with a firewall, you are on the router to access it. That process depends on the router and firewall being used, so it wouldn’t make much sense to cover it here.
Finally, get rid of Mac OS X and get to it mobile world with iOS, you can also send SSH to iPhones and iPads by setting up servers on iOS devices too, but it’s a bit more complicated and requires a jailbreak to enable the servers and access the iOS command line.
The inclusion of SSH, and with it SFTP, via Remote Login also explains why Apple continued to dump the FTP server in Lion (this remains the same in Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, and Mountain Lion, although you can still install ftp if you really need to through Homebrew or compile it yourself), as they opted for the infinitely more secure and encrypted SSH and SFTP options, and bundled it with Sharing’s “Remote Login” option as part of the full SSH package.
Thanks to Izdexic for the post idea via comments
If you have something useful tips or any information related to SSH on a Mac, share with us in the comments below!
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