I want to install a dmg file on a remote server. All I have is an ssh access. Since a DMG is a disk image, I tried to mount it, but mount does not seem to recognize its format.

file says my dmg file is a VAX COFF executable.

6 Answers 6


First, mount the dmg image : hdiutil attach <image>.dmg

The image will be mounted to /Volumes/<image>. Mine contained a package which i installed with: sudo installer -package /Volumes/<image>/<image>.pkg -target /

Finally unmount the image: hdiutil detach /Volumes/<image>.

  • 1
    I did that with Docker.dmg and I had no <image>.pkg so that dit not work Oct 27, 2019 at 15:56
  • mine is <image>.app instead of <image>.pkg after doing sudo hdiutil attach <image>.dmg, how can i do then?
    – jack
    Mar 27, 2021 at 18:13
  • 3
    @jack If there is an .app within a DMG you usally can just drag/copy it to /Applications.
    – nohillside
    May 19, 2022 at 6:01
  • Sometimes application inside dmg is distributed as app folder. In such case you need to copy it as in this answer apple.stackexchange.com/a/308510/452756 Jan 16, 2023 at 8:42
  • It's amazing how complex it is to perform such a basic operation on a macOS CLI. Looks like they forgot about the "Think" in "Think Different".
    – Martin
    Jan 8 at 9:43

You should be able to mount the .dmg using:

hdiutil attach /path/to/file.dmg

And then copy its contents (which appears in /Volumes) where ever you like.


I had to mount and copy the .app to /Applications folder. For Etcher.app:

First as @trojanfoe said :

sudo hdiutil attach /Users/janatac/Etcher-1.2.1.dmg


sudo cp -R /Volumes/Etcher\ 1.2.1/Etcher.app /Applications

You then have your application in /Applications folder

Don't forget to unmount the volume :

sudo hdiutil unmount /Volumes/Etcher\ 1.2.1/

Got it working after reading instructions from a blog post.


If you want to script the install it requires a few more steps since the name of the .dmg file, the name of the Volume created, the name of the application, and the name of the device that needs to be detached can all be different. Plus they can have spaces in them.

Also a .dmg can have an .app file or a .pkg file in it and these require different behavior.

Here's a bash function to install a dmg from a remote URL:

# usage: installdmg https://example.com/path/to/pkg.dmg
function installdmg {
    set -x
    tempd=$(mktemp -d)
    curl $1 > $tempd/pkg.dmg
    listing=$(sudo hdiutil attach $tempd/pkg.dmg | grep Volumes)
    volume=$(echo "$listing" | cut -f 3)
    if [ -e "$volume"/*.app ]; then
      sudo cp -rf "$volume"/*.app /Applications
    elif [ -e "$volume"/*.pkg ]; then
      package=$(ls -1 "$volume" | grep .pkg | head -1)
      sudo installer -pkg "$volume"/"$package" -target /
    sudo hdiutil detach "$(echo "$listing" | cut -f 1)"
    rm -rf $tempd
    set +x

Note if your .dmg has an .app file that runs to install the program, then you will need to do something different again.

  • This will only work for dmg‘s containing ready-to-run apps, not for packages or installer apps.
    – nohillside
    Jan 7, 2018 at 19:58
  • @patrix can you give me some examples of packages and installer apps that I can test against to refine the answer? Jan 7, 2018 at 20:11
  • Packages are easy (end in .pkg), but an installer app looks the same as a real one
    – nohillside
    Jan 7, 2018 at 20:19
  • this does not detach the file. hdiutil: detach failed - No such file or directory Apr 9, 2018 at 19:14
  • 1
    @NicholasDiPiazza I wish Apple would make this easier by providing and enforcing a single easy to use standard and giving developers tools to automatically convert their existing installers to use the new standard. Apr 27, 2018 at 22:21

You could try the command open disk://host.tld/image.dmg.

  • open didn't do anything, just exit, without error message.
    – philant
    Dec 5, 2012 at 9:36
  • 2
    Yes it does. I just tested it. It won't display anything until the disk image has been completely mounted, so you will have to wait a minute or so before it appears in /Volumes. (It works if you ssh in and type open path/to/file.dmg. I don't think disk://host.tld/ works though.)
    – daviewales
    Dec 5, 2012 at 12:19
  • Helpful, though maybe not exactly what the OP needed. Thanks. Feb 9, 2014 at 12:06
  • I found that open -W </path/todmg> worked (it waits until the volume has actually appeared).
    – gib
    Jun 8, 2020 at 10:20

After you've downloaded the.dmg file. By pressing the right button, the file must be mounted and opened with the same picture.DiskImageMounter(Default).

enter image description here .

The. app file will then be shown. When the. app file appears, open the terminal and navigate to the write directory where the file is located. and type open -a/ExistingFileName.app in the command prompt, then press enter. This is how I use the macOS terminal to launch the.dmg file.

  • You can also just double-click the DMG file to open it. Also please be more specific about what you mean with "open the terminal go to the directory write open -a/FileName.app and hit enter", this seems to lack some details.
    – nohillside
    Jan 25, 2022 at 12:05
  • The OP only has "an ssh access", so he cannot open the .dmg this way.
    – IT-bob
    Jun 1, 2023 at 7:42

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