I've been trying to connect to raspberry pi over ssh on a mac and then open the desktop using startx. I know on a windows you can use putty and xming but both of those are windows programs only. Is there a way that I your x11 forwarding on mac when using ssh with my pi? I already know how to ssh using the terminal and have also tried Spackle. Any suggestions will be appreciated.


I had the same problem, and have a solution working now, but it needs a little refining (I can't get it to run in anything other than full screen) My Mac is an iMac 27in, and I'm using a Pi model 2 with the latest Raspbian image. I have Quartz and thus X11 installed on the iMac because I need this for the Dia program. From the iMac terminal, I ssh to the Pi with the -X option (so "ssh -X pi@raspberrypi.local") After entering the password, I get several messages including one about auth key data, but I just ignore these for the moment. Once at the prompt on the Pi, as user pi, I just enter lxsession (and again, some messages go past) then the big Raspberry appears in the middle of my screen and I have the Raspberry Pi's desktop. I need to use "cmd+opt+A" to get back to the OSX desktop, and I'm still working on how to get a more "manageable" window, but it most certainly works ! My motivation for doing this was to get it working WITHOUT any additional software, and it is working well for me, even though most of my time is spent in a terminal. Another option that also works well is to install xrdp on the Pi, then use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app from the App Store (I know, it sounds strange) but this also works really well, but it does mean installing extra software. My OSX has just been upgraded to El Capitan, but I did most of this originally on Yosemite. Good luck Simon


X11 is no longer included with OS X. XQuartz libraries are available, but I know of no tools which use these for ssh.

I suggest you install VNC on the Pi (I use tightvncserver) and access from the Mac like

open vnc://pi@
  • Thanks for the help. I so have X11 downloaded on my mac. I was trying to avoid vnc. Thanks once again for your help. – Curious Programmer Sep 13 '15 at 2:20
  • If you are worried about VNC security, then port forwarding can be used to send the VNC traffic from localhost (the Raspberry Pi) to your OSX session. VNC is a lighter weight solution than opening a ssh connection and typing startx, since the former sends an image whereas the latter passes a lot more information over the network. – W. H. Bell Sep 16 '15 at 11:04
  • Check out this page: elinux.org/RPi_Remote_Access#Running_a_remote_GUI – Ben Marten Dec 26 '15 at 13:51

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