MobaXterm for Mac: What Are the Best Alternatives?

how to open terminal on mac

MobaXterm for Mac: What Are the Best Alternatives?

Key Points

  • MobaXterm is a free terminal and SSH client for Windows that allows access to Linux, BSD, and Mac computers if hosted on the same network.
  • Hyper is a versatile terminal emulator available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users, but it has a steep learning curve.
  • ZOC Terminal is a platform-agnostic alternative to MobaXterm, but it comes with a price tag of $80.
  • MacWise is a terminal emulator specifically designed for Intel Macs that offers customization options.
  • iTerm2 is a modern terminal emulator with features like multiple panes and autocomplete, but it only runs on macOS 10.14 or higher.
  • Terminator is a Java-based terminal emulator that allows users to keep multiple tabs open and create automatic logs.

What are the best alternatives to MobaXterm for Mac? Apple users get to enjoy a lot of the same functionality seen with Windows and Linux computers. However, for some pieces of software, there just isn’t a native port. MobaXterm is one such piece of software. Windows users have long enjoyed the ability to have access to a robust terminal emulator for handling remote access to other desktops.

Unfortunately, Mac users have been left in the lurch. Thankfully, though, some alternatives get close to the overall functionality of MobaXterm. If you’re a tech-savvy Mac user, you’re in luck, because there are five great options if you’re looking for a terminal emulator.

What Is MobaXterm?

MobaXterm is a free terminal and SSH client for Windows clients. It offers a similar level of functionality as the bash shell you’ll encounter with native Linux tools in any given distro. Further, it allows you to access the robust functionality of Windows for Active Directory needs. It also allows admins to handle SSH regardless of their operating system of choice.

Best Use Cases

MobaXterm isn’t meant for a casual user. You’ll likely want to have familiarity with Linux CLI tools and SSH as a whole. Sadly, Windows doesn’t provide a tidy native solution to this. You can access desktops remotely with the Microsoft RDP standard.

However, that doesn’t account for multiple different types of operating systems. MobaXterm is Windows-only. Thankfully, it allows Windows admins to access Linux, BSD, and Mac computers if hosted on the same network — as long as they’ve got the proper credentials to access them via SSH.

#1 Best Overall: Hyper

Hyper is a stunning and thoroughly modern take on the terminal emulator. Built with modern web standards in mind, the sky is the veritable limit with Hyper. You can install extensions, customize keymaps and shortcuts, and use all of the same utilities you would find in any other terminal.

On top of that, it is freely available for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. As a MobaXterm alternative for Mac, this is one of the better ones. It does require a little more know-how to make the most of it. Hype is a great fit for sysadmins and developers alike when getting some work done.

It has a beautiful interface.Hyper has quite a steep learning curve to get started.
Hyper has an extensible framework for adding extra functionality.The ability to extend the software’s functionality might not be necessary for most users.

Best Platform Agnostic Choice: ZOC Terminal

ZOC Terminal isn’t for the faint of heart. Once you get into the features and capabilities of this software, you’re more than ready to handle any terminal-related task you might run across. It’s also an SSH client, which is a must to be a suitable alternative to MobaXterm for Mac.

The learning curve isn’t quite as steep on ZOC Terminal as on other terminal emulators. However, it does have a major drawback when it comes to overall cost. To order a single license is $80 but, thankfully, you can use it across multiple platforms, including Mac and Windows.

ZOC Terminal is quick to pick up and use.It has a purchase price of $80.
It is well-maintained and ready for Apple Silicon Macs.

Best for Intel Macs: MacWise

Unfortunately, not all Mac users are running the latest and greatest Apple computers. If you’re still on the Intel Macs, you are in luck. MacWise is one of the oldest terminal emulators around for macOS and runs on a wide variety of different operating system versions.

Thankfully, the current 64-bit release runs on Sonoma all the way down to Sierra, covering a decade or so of Mac laptops and desktops. MacWise is elegantly designed and emulates a whole slew of different terminals on top of traditional functionality and SSH connections.

You can customize the theming to suit your needs.It might be tough for some admins to pick a terminal for their needs.
It runs on just about every Mac available.The interface is very basic.

Best Terminal Replacement: iTerm2

iTerm2 is a modern terminal emulator for Mac users everywhere. It features a wide-ranging number of modern features to set it apart from traditional terminal emulators. You’ve got access to multiple panes running at the same time. iTerm2 also allows users to autocomplete common commands and functions.

Interestingly, you can even bring up the terminal window through a simple hotkey, no matter what you’re doing on a Mac. Unfortunately, system compatibility is limited. You’ll need macOS 10.14 or higher, placing it out of reach for users who might be using older MacBooks and Minis.

It is elegantly designed and thoroughly modern.It only runs on Macs using 10.14 or higher.
The multi-pane view is fantastic for multi-tasking.Key combos from Linux are not natively recognized.

Best for Organization: Terminator

Terminator is a fantastic terminal emulator for users looking for a multi-platform option. It runs natively utilizing a Java virtual machine, meaning any operating system that runs Java can realistically run Terminator. It’s well-suited for users looking to keep their terminal sessions organized. The software allows users to keep multiple tabs open at a time.

In addition to the multiple tabs, you have automatic log creation. Subsequently, this helps in keeping track of tasks, as well as seeing the overall output of a given action. Logs are part and parcel of the IT world. Terminator has readily created documentation available for a sysadmin, which is an invaluable feature.

The software using Java as a base means it is readily ported to any operating system the programming language supports.You’ll have to enable running unsigned code on your Mac to install it.
You’ve got access to multiple tabs.The interface is incredibly basic and a little hard on the eyes.

Using Alternatives to MobaXterm for Mac: What to Know

There are so many terminal emulators out in the wild that it is difficult to know what to look for. Thankfully, if you’re looking for something that emulates the basic functionality of MobaXterm, you’ve got a few options.


At its core, you’ll want a terminal emulator that readily handles the basic commands and functions you’d use in a CLI tool. SSH connectivity is an absolute must since that is one of the major selling points of MobaXterm.

While emulating different terminal types and accepting different commands is well and good, users with experience in SSH are likely coming from a Linux-heavy background. As such, you’ll want a terminal emulator that has the same commands, functions, and syntax you might expect from those operating systems.

Use Case

What will make the most impact on your use of a terminal emulator is the overall aim of your work. If you use the CLI to commit changes to Git or push updates through Node, then Hyper is a great fit. However, network admins will likely prefer something like iTerm2. It allows for quick use without any concerns about launching the utility through Finder or Spotlight.

Alternatives to MobaXterm for Mac: What It’s Like

So, what is it actually like to use a MobaXterm alternative for Mac? Users with knowledge of terminal-based utilities likely won’t notice a huge change. Mac’s own terminal is well-featured and takes advantage of a lot of the same functionality seen in the likes of OpenBSD or FreeBSD. What these alternatives provide is extended functionality.

While the standard terminal is perfectly fine for most perfunctory duties, there is an overwhelming amount of IT professionals utilizing Macs in the workplace. As such, they need to be able to maintain the same level of functionality across the board. A MobaXterm for Mac alternative is a great choice in this instance, giving great compatibility with protocols like Telnet and SSH.

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