Fast and reliable SSHFS for your Mac

Introduction

When you're working with a remote server over SSH it's often the case you need to regularly edit files on that server. Manually transferring files that you're editing back and forth can turn into a cumbersome and repetitive task.

Thankfully, there is a better way to interact with files on your server and that is using a SSHFS-type (SSH Filesystem) tool so you can interact with remote storage as if it was local storage on your machine.

Practically speaking that means you can copy and paste file from local to remote from within Finder, or edit files directly on the server using whatever tools you normally use like VS Code, Photoshop, even Microsoft office.

The changes you make are immediately and securely synced out to the server over the SSH channel and you don't have to think twice after you hit the save button.

Options for SSHFS on macOS


Open-source SSHFS based on macFUSE

The go-to opensource option is the port of SSHFS from Linux by macFUSE. It is a relatively straightforward no-frills command-line appliation without any user interface, but it is well tested and used by many. If you're looking for a free or open-source option, this is a good place to start.

One caveat is that like many solutions, it relies on a kernel extension which has been deprecated by macOS and requires a reboot into recovery mode to reduce security level on newer M1 based macs.


Loopback server commerical solutions

Another style of implementing SSHFS is implementing a local NFS server that the operating system connects to. This NFS server translates the NFS commands into SFTP commands, so you can have an appearance of a local filesystem. CloudMounter and Mountain Duck are two popular examples of this type of solution. Mountain Duck is based on CyberDuck, a popular java-based file transfer client. Cloudmounter is a similar solution but more squarely designed at Mac.


macOS 11 Big Sur File Provider based SSHFS

Strongsync - a macOS 11 File Provider supporting SFTP

With Apple deprecating Kernel Extensions, and making loading them much more onerous on Apple Silicon the path forward for accessing remote content in native local apps on the mac is the File Provider interface. Strongsync, an application developed by ExpanDrive, is the first application on the Mac to support this interface.

ExpanDrive - full custom, fast and reliable SFTP Filesystem

Finder Image

ExpanDrive adds SFTP support directly into Finder and every other application on your Mac. This isn't a pretty wrapper around vanilla SSHFS, ExpanDrive is a powerful custom solution we've been developing for over 15 years.


Mount any SFTP server as a network drive on macOS.

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Version 2021.7.1 for Mac released July 19th, 2021

ExpanDrive Installation Instructions

ExpanDrive is a straightforward installation. Start by downloading our installer from our download page. Next, click our DMG file to open the installer.

* ExpanDrive v7 requires macOS 10.11 or newer. If you're running macOS 11 or higher, you probably want to use Strongsync

Drag ExpanDrive into your Applications folder to finish installation. You will need to enter your Mac's password in order to complete installation. This only happens upon the first connection to let ExpanDrive finish configuration. On macOS 10.14 and newer you will also be prompted to authorize our System Extension in the Security control panel on your mac.

ExpanDrive Connection configuration

To create a new SSHFS connection inside ExpanDrive start by pressing the new connection button in the bottom-left of the app. This opens the drive configuration screen which lets you configure the various settings needed to mount your SFTP server.

Smart Offline Sync

Choose files for offline access and work without an internet connection. Upload to your server takes place automatically when you’re back online. Other files are accessed on-demand from the SFTP server, taking no disk space.

Cloud storage in every application

Add cloud storage, like Google, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Sharepoint, and more to every application on your computer. ExpanDrive builds a secure connection from the filesystem to the cloud. Open, edit, and save files to remote computers from within your favorite programs — even when they are on a server half a world away.

Super-fast background uploads

ExpanDrive has multi-threaded connection engine that is up to 500% faster that previous version. ExpanDrive performs parallel transfers in the background so that you have a reliable transfer even in the face of unreliable internet. Keep working and stop waiting for transfers to complete.

For help installing or uninstalling please visit our documentation.

Usage is subject to our License agreement.