I have been using a free SSH app on my phone for a little while but stopped because using VIM mostly broke it. Now after some updates I seems to have a limited number of key strokes before it expires. So now seems like a good time to shop around.

There are the requirements:

  • Can emulate color
  • Can run VIM, though being able to run EMACS would be cool too.
  • It does not have to be free.
  • it must run on a non jail broken phone.

What is everyone else using? What do you suggest?

  • 1
    What is the name of your current SSH app? Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:10
  • @VxJasonxV - thanks for the edit. ZaTelnet is was i was using before. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:28
  • Once you try this, you will realize you cannot do any serious work on Vim or Emacs. It's very handy in a pinch, but it's not practical. IMHO, of course.
    – EmmEff
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 15:06

10 Answers 10


Being the fanboy that I am, I completely admit that I am absolutely in love with Prompt (by Panic). It's already come a long way since it's initial release, and here's a few wonderful features;

  1. It's not cluttered. They provided an app that offers what you need out of an SSH client and added a few bonuses that make it so much more worthwhile.

  2. Command, and parameter, auto-completion. (Oh my god this is amazing.)

  3. Public/Private key authentication support. Well documented, and also quite improved in recent versions with regard to how to load the actual key.

  4. Leveraging the amount of free space in the meta key bar, you can assign 4 "favorite special character keys", so pick the ones you use most often so you rarely have to hit the 123 keyboard key, or worse, the #+= key. I currently have /\.- chosen.

Prompt is $8 (universal app!) on the iTunes App Store.

  • 2
    It's not just the best iOS SSH app, it's one of the best mobile SSH clients I've used on any device. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:43
  • Note for those finding there way here from Google...Prompt is very nice, but lacks sash agent support. Depending on how you usually work this can be annoying. I use Prompt anyway, but this keeps biting me.
    – larsks
    Commented May 13, 2012 at 3:15
  • ssh-agent support is a moot point and nigh impossible to run on software that does not run persistently. Besides, SSH Agent times out after a certain period of time, and background software expires after a period of time. The implementation is surprisingly similar when you think about it. Commented May 14, 2012 at 4:55
  • Its not just $7. Its also $8 minus a penny. Thats's a pizza!
    – chillin
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 10:28
  • @chillin and always has been when not on sale, huh. Yup, I screwed that up. Weird. Oh well, fixed now. Commented May 11, 2014 at 17:26

I've been using Panic's Prompt. It does color, SSH keys (including PEMs, if you've got a need to work with EC2), runs Vim and Emacs just fine, and most definitely works beautifully on a non-jailbroken phone. The soft keyboard also provides convenient access to escape, tab, and other keys that you need frequently when you're working with a terminal. Properly configured, Prompt also provides superb auto-complete that actually makes using a terminal on an iPhone palatable. Alternatively, Prompt works great with a Bluetooth keyboard--a combination that has proved excellent when I'm on the road and something goes wrong with a server.

Plus, Prompt is a universal app, so if you've got an iPad, you can use the bigger screen when you've got it, and still rely on the iPhone's size when you don't.

My only complaint is that Prompt can be a bit slow. I'm not sure how much of that is Prompt's fault, and how much of that is my cell phone's network not being quite up-to-snuff. But the slowness hasn't honestly

  • Great minds think alike? Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:20
  • I like that we posted literally three seconds apart and identified exactly the same features to boot. Do you also find Prompt a bit slow, though? Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:21
  • The slowness is partially CPU clock rate limited and how any iOS app that has to wait for data from the network. Latency kills the fluid feel of ssh no matter if it's a computer or iOS client. You can use prompt on a fast network (especially iPad on 802.11n) to see the true speed of the prompt app - it screams when the network is fast - even on older devices.
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 15:35
  • 1
    I had worse problems with iSSH. In addition to bmike's statements, I've used prompt more often on my (WiFi Only) iPad. And much less frequently across the internet than local network connections. I have certainly seen the same kind of inherent latency, but it's nowhere near the worst I've seen, such as SSH'ing into a saturated network. As long as an app responds better than that situation, I'm happy. And in Prompt's case, I'm freaking ecstatic. Commented Aug 25, 2011 at 16:10

I like iSSH. It's been around a long time and is a high quality emulator. It's usable on an iPhone screen and quite nice on an iPad screen. It even has a workaround for using the Control key on an external Bluetooth keyboard. I also tried Prompt right when it was released and found it not as solid, although it's had a lot of improvements since then.

  • iSSH is far and away my favorite. The developer will even add features if you request them in email or through the iSSH google group.
    – Kalamane
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 1:00
  • issh has MOSH support!
    – chillin
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 10:09
  • 2
    I just want to note that iSSH, which was indeed the best ssh app around, has been discontinued and, as far as I can tell, removed from the app store.
    – hymie
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 12:16

Try Server Auditor. It's the best terminal for using Emacs from your iPhone. It allows to do C-x C-s without pain. It's also available on Google Play.


Panic's Prompt is noticeably much slower than iSSH. If that doesn't bother you, it's a nice, simple SSH terminal app.

  • 3
    Hi, welcome to Ask Different. It's generally a good idea to post some corroborating evidence on answer, especially if they might seem...contentious and somewhat speculative. As the above does.
    – Ian C.
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 15:39

Theres a new one called RapidSSH that is pretty good

  • Supports SSH Agent and Agent Forwarding
  • Really easy and comprehensive key management
  • Supports multi-session and has good cut and paste slide out
  • Integrates with Dropbox so you can get big lumps of text into, and log files out of the app really easily.

Also has loads of other features which I dont really use, but as OP requested- it runs vIM, does ANSI colour, emacs is not that good, isn't free but very cheap and runs on non-jailbroken phones fine.


try xCute - a new and existing SSH app for iPad / iPhone

Quotation from xCute web page:

Sending commands to a server can be as simple as sending a text
message to a friend.

   Remote SSH asynchronous execution.  

   Results displayed back. 

   Persistent host details.   

   User defined sets for keyword colouring output.   

   Scripts for one touch execution.   

   iCloud on demand synchronisation.   

   Global or on a per user/server secure connections.

The application is available in English, Spanish and French

Extremely easy to use, just type a command or chose from your own list of scripts, and hit send.

Changing server is also extremely easy.

I like the colouring output, one can distinguish easily between commands and output, and can selectively colour words in the output which help my presentations which I can email with all that formatting.

  • Why is it better than others in your experience not quotes from the sellers
    – mmmmmm
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 13:19
  • Welcome to Ask Different! Please read the help center regarding self-promotion and include a disclaimer if you are the author of the product in your answer.
    – grg
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 13:26

My experience with iSSH is that it has quite a lot of ui bugs. Input disappearing behind the keyboard and such. Also the ui is not really ios standard.. It has got me searching for alternatives a few times. (Why I'm here) Other than that, good client. Also does VNC quite good.


Why not try ssh term pro? It best in many case than above apps

  • We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation, could you defend your argument in any way? Why do you think it's better?
    – Thecafremo
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 11:07

vSSH - advanced ssh and telnet client for iPhone and iPad. In addition to standard iOS ssh client functions (background work, port forwarding, key forwarding, unicode and pseudographics support, sessions logging) has the following unique features:

  • Touch screen gestures (configurable, simulates arrow Pg Up/Down and other key combination)
  • Extended keyboard (configurable, F1-F20, Ctrl, Alt, Ins, Pg Up/Down and other keys)
  • Full-featured external (bluetooth) keyboard support (including modifier keys)
  • iCloud sync between all iOS devices as well as OS X app version
  • Macros support (you shell scripts as menu items for quick access)

Free lite (with Ad) version is available.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! Please read the help center regarding self-promotion and include a disclaimer if you are the author of the product in your answer.
    – grg
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 14:45

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