My question is quite similar to this one, except I would like to ssh from a Yosemite Mac Pro to a Catalina Mac Pro and run Firefox GUI. So far I have tried the following:

user@yosemite-machine:~$ ssh -X user@catalina-machine
user@catalina-machine:~$ cd /Applications/Firefox.app/Content/MacOS
user@catalina-machine:~$ ./firefox    # <-- I wait for a minute, but no Firefox GUI

But if I log in directly into catalina-machine, open the terminal and navigate to cd /Applications/Firefox.app/Content/MacOS and run the firefox binary, it works (i.e. the Firefox GUI appears).

Why am I unable to see Firefox on my yosemite-machine's display after SSH'ing into my catalina-machine ?


2 Answers 2


Because macOS is not running X11. It is not Linux.

You've instructed ssh to forward X11 through a tunnel back to the original machine, but there is no X11 to forward.

  • so is there no way to SSH into a Catalina OS and launch a GUI like Firefox? I'm not necessarily trying to use X11, it could be by any other means. Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 13:16
  • 1
    The question you linked has a comprehensive set of answers. Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 15:03

Apple does screen sharing over the VNC ports - so you could port forward them over ssh once you've sorted out your VNC access. Unless you wanted to run X11 apps - this is the way to get native apps to run remotely.

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