SSH/SFTP for Windows and Mac

SSH and Secure File Transfer Protocol

SSH is a command-line utility designed for logging into and executing commands on a remote system ( for example). SFTP is a way to transfer files in a secure manner between a local and a remote system. Apple macOS and Windows 10 have built-in SSH clients. Multiple alternative SSH and SFTP clients exist and free clients such as PuTTY and Filezilla are available for download.

Windows SSH/SFTP

Note: Windows 10 has a built in SSH that can be launched by navigating to "Apps and Features", selecting "Manage optional features" and clicking "OpenSSH Client". The instructions below are for Windows 9X systems.

1. Download SSH/SFTP Secure Shell from (software is listed alphabetically on the page). Remember where you save the download.
2. Click on the icon to install the client.
3. At the Welcome window, click Next.
4. At the License Agreement window, click Yes.
5. At the Choose Destination Folder window, click Next .
6. At the Select Program Folder window, click Next.
7. At the Select Components window, click Next.
8. At the Check Setup Information window, click Next.
9. When the Setup Status is complete, click Finish.


First open a terminal window

  • Open Finder -- select Applications -- select Utilities -- then select the Terminal icon. 

Terminal icon

Using SSH

At the prompt, type in this command:

ssh remote_username@remote_systemname

Replace remote_username with your username and remote_systemname with the name of the system you are connecting to (for example, ). 

Terminal interface


Enter your password when prompted. You may also be prompted to accept a host security key. You must type "yes" to continue. 

Key prompt in the Terminal interface


Using SFTP

Unless you are really knowledgeable about the file structure of your computer, it is a good idea to navigate to the folder you want to transfer files into or out-of on your computer before you open a connection to a remote system. Use pwd and cd at the prompt to navigate to a suitable folder on your system. Once there, type:

sftp remote_username@remote_systemname

Where remote_username is your username on the system and remote_systemname is the name of the system you are connecting to (for example, ).

Enter your password at the prompt. Now when you cd around the system, you are moving between folders on the remote system. Change to the remote folder where you will be transferring files to/from. Use put, get, mput, or mget to transfer files between the remote system and your own. Type quit to exit the SFTP session.