Through the years I’ve tried nearly every tool known to Mac users to help me connect and work with other platforms. If you use Terminal.app in the Applications > Utilities folder then you know what I mean. For the most part, Terminal works well, but requires plenty of command line knowledge, proper certificate and password management, and a cheat sheet of tricks.
If all you want to do is click to log into a remote server, I recommend the affordable SSH Shell app for your Mac over Terminal. Set up the host, enter the proper credentials, select a color scheme, and logging in from then on is merely a click.
It isn’t so much that SSH Shell is packed with all the geeky features that compete with, say, iTerm 2.x for Mac. It’s not that kind of SSH client. If you’re after quick and easy connectivity with just the right amount of features most of us use, SSH Shell is the one.
Check out how easy it is to get a connection and a screen color you like to use.
What you get with SSH Shell goes beyond what comes with the Mac’s built-in Terminal.app.
- Can manage multiple ssh sessions for different servers
- Automatically reconnect after disconnected by errors or waking up from sleep
- Remember and autofill ssh login passwords in OS X keychain automatically
- Able to manage private keys, and can remember / forget passphrases of private keys in keychain
- Servers can be imported from / exported as JSON file
- Integrated terminal is compatible with Terminal.app / xterm / iTerm2
- Able to compress SSH connection
- Support public-key, password, keyboard-interactive authentication methods
- Support Google Authenticator and Authy for two-step verification
- Support multi-factor authentication
- Can deal with DSA, RSA, ECDSA, ed25519 private key types
- RFC4716, PKCS#8 and PEM key formats are supported, compatible with OpenSSH
That’s a healthy and useful list that covers everything I do on a mixed platform environment.
Now, just so the geek in you has a place to reside, and because the SSH Shell terminal is so much easier to use and pretty than the vanilla Terminal.app, SSH Shell also works with iTerm 2. It even supports multi-factor authentication methods, and conforms to the standard SSH-2 protocol.
The Manage Hosts window makes a connection as easy as a click. Each host displays the host name, IP address, port number, and the user login, plus a thumbnail of the screen color. That’s another plus. Selecting background theme colors couldn’t be easier, and far faster than Terminal.app.
This is one of those rare Mac apps that’s been around awhile, seems to improve regularly, is both easy to use for the Terminal.app novice but works well with geekier solutions like iTerm 2 for Mac. What I would like to see is a try-before-you-buy option as the price tag is a couple of bucks beyond my throwaway limit.