How to Enable and Use Windows 10’s New Built-in SSH Commands

Microsoft announced it was bringing an integrated OpenSSH client to Windows in 2015. They’ve finally done it, and an SSH client is hidden in Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update. You can now connect to an Secure Shell server from Windows without installing PuTTY or any other third-party software.

Update: The built-in SSH client is now enabled by default in Windows 10’s April 2018 Update. Here’s how to get the update if you don’t already have it on your PC.

PuTTY may still have more features. According to the project’s bug tracker on GitHub, the integrated SSH client only supports ed25519 keys at the moment.

How to Install Windows 10’s SSH Client

RELATED: What’s New in Windows 10’s Fall Creators Update, Available Now

The SSH client is a part of Windows 10, but it’s an “optional feature” that isn’t installed by default.

To install it, head to Settings > Apps and click “Manage optional features” under Apps & features.

Click “Add a feature” at the top of the list of installed features. If you already have the SSH client installed, it will appear in the list here.

Scroll down, click the “OpenSSH Client (Beta)” option, and click “Install”.

Windows 10 also offers an OpenSSH server, which you can install if you want to run an SSH server on your PC. You should only install this if you actually want to run a server on your PC and not just connect to a server running on another system.

How to Use Windows 10’s SSH Client

You can now use the SSH client by running the ssh command. This works in either a PowerShell window or a Command Prompt window, so use whichever you prefer.

To quickly open a PowerShell window, right-click the Start button or press Windows+X and choose “Windows PowerShell” from the menu.

To view the syntax of the ssh command, just run it:

ssh

If you see an error message saying the command isn’t found, you will need to sign out and sign in again. Rebooting your PC will also work. This shouldn’t be necessary, but this is a beta feature.

RELATED: How to Connect to an SSH Server from Windows, macOS, or Linux

This command works the same as connecting to an SSH server via the ssh command on other operating systems like macOS or Linux. Its syntax, or command line options, are the same.

For example, to connect to an SSH server at ssh.example.com with the username “bob”, you’d run:

ssh bob@ssh.example.com

By default, the command attempts to connect to an SSH server running on port 22, which is the default. However, you may need to connect to a server running on a different port. You do this by specifying a port with the -p switch. For example, if the server accepts connections on port 7777, you’d run:

ssh bob@ssh.example.com -p 7777

As with other SSH clients, you’ll be prompted to accept the host’s key the first time you connect. You’ll then get a command-line environment you can use to run commands on the remote system.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry.Connect with him on Twitter.

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