Home Tech Secure ShellFish is arguably the top SSH GUI client for MacOS.

Secure ShellFish is arguably the top SSH GUI client for MacOS.

by Macky Briones

ZDNET’s key takeaways

– Secure ShellFish is available to install now from the Apple App Store.
– Very easy to use, includes SSH Key Authentication, port forwarding, and other features that are sure to please those new to SSH and those who’ve been using it for years.
– Free version is limited to the number of servers that can be added and does have ads in the terminal.

I regularly SSH into various Linux servers and desktops. If I only had to work with one remote machine, using the built-in terminal app would be a fine solution. However, when you have numerous machines on your home or business network that you have to access, having to remember all of those IP addresses can be a real chore.

Fortunately, there are plenty of GUI SSH clients for MacOS. Recently I came across one that has very quickly become my favorite. The app in question is called Secure ShellFish. Technically speaking, the app name is SSH Files or Secure ShellFish — SSH Files.

If you use iOS (and have to work with SSH), you might have heard of the name. Back in 2022, the developer of that app decided to port it to MacOS which includes even more features.

Secure ShellFish includes features such as:

– A built-in terminal.
– Text selection.
– Server configuration.
– Cloud support (including Digital Ocean droplets).
– SSH Key authentication (with built-in key generator).
– Support for 2FA.
– iCloud Keychain support.
– Theme configuration.
– Filename aware.
– Snippets (which are essentially commands you can automate).
– Shell integration.
– Port forwarding.
– And more.

And that’s just the free version. The Pro version ($15 annually or $3 per month) adds upload from the services menu and finder, fast media playback, unlimited servers, ad-free SSH terminal (although I’ve yet to see any ads on the free version), and groups.

You can install Secure ShellFish from the Apple App store on your MacOS device and, as soon as you open it, you’ll find it as user-friendly as any app of its ilk.

One of the features that I appreciate more than any is the SSH Key Authentication integration. You can either use the built-in key generator or use from created from SSH. I prefer using the latter option because I’d already generated my own keys from the command line. Either way, using SSH Key Authentication is quite simple with Secure ShellFish.

Adding a server is simple. You just click + at the top right of the left pane and fill out the necessary information.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you plan on using SSH Key Authentication, you have to first either generate a key or configure Secure ShellFish such that it uses the keys found in /Users/USERNAME/.ssh (where USERNAME is your MacOS username).

Once you’ve got an SSH key ready, you can add it to the configuration by clicking SSH Key and then selecting which key you want from the drop-down.

With a server configured, click the tiny keyboard icon to the right of the server IP address to open the terminal. Depending on how you have authentication configured, you’ll either be prompted for a user password, the passphrase for your key, or biometric authentication. After successful authentication, you’ll find yourself at the terminal window, where you can do whatever it is you need to do.

If you click the gear icon at the top right of the terminal window, you’ll find a drop-down menu, where you can theme the terminal, select or add a snippet, configure port forwarding, and more.

Secure ShellFish checks all the right boxes for an SSH GUI on MacOS. Anyone who regularly uses SSH will find this app a must-have. So, what are you waiting for? Open the Apple App Store, install Secure ShellFish right now, and start adding your servers.


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