Cisco Console Access from Your Mac

//Cisco Console Access from Your Mac

Cisco Console Access from Your Mac

I occasionally have to use the console port on the back of various Cisco devices. What is a trivial task on Windows with TeraTerm or PuTTy, can be a bit more involved for Mac users. Today I wanted to walk through two methods I use to connect via console on a Macbook. First we’ll need to find a console cable with compatible Mac drivers. Most Prolific based Serial to USB adapters will work and the Mac has support for FTDI out of the box. Now that we have taken care of the equipment, lets look at two ways to get console access.

Cisco Console Access with Screen

This first method I’ll show is a tried and true way of getting things done. First, open up a terminal window, then type the following command:

ls /dev/tty.*

This command displays a list of serial devices attached to the Mac. If nothing appears, try this set of commands:

cd /dev
ls -ltr /dev/*usb*

From here you’ll want to note the tty device name. (It will look like this tty.usbmodem1a21 or PL2303-0000103D). Next type the following command to launch a screen session:

screen /dev/tty.usbmodem1a21 9600

Replace tty.usbmodem1a21 with the device you noted from the above commands. 9600 is the standard baud rate.

There you have it! You should now have a console session with your switch or router, but I have a feeling you are a bit annoyed by how cumbersome that process is. Enter Serial. Serial is an app available on the Mac AppStore (and also from the developer’s website), that automates all of this for you. Go ahead and check out how much easier Serial is -

Cisco Console Access with Serial

First, make sure you have downloaded the app from the Appstore, or grab the free trial from their website to start. Once installed, launch the app. First thing you should notice is an ‘Open Port’ window.

Open Port Dialog Box

Click on your USB to Serial adapter and hit Open

Console Session Running

And you are done! Much, much easier than trying to remember commands and using Screen. Serial has the ability to export your text output and can send files over the serial port if you ever find yourself in a recovery situation. The app is a bit on the pricey side ($29.99) but its convenience and utility cannot be overstated.

By | 2015-12-28T13:50:54+00:00 January 20th, 2015|Mac OS X|4 Comments

About the Author:

I am a Network Engineer with about five years of experience. Currently I'm working towards my CCNP Data Center and training for a marathon!


  1. JoeB May 6, 2015 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Thanks for the hints Dan. I have used screen in the past, and it works well. Unless you have a cheap knockoff prolific device. Which can cause headaches that always seem to occur the moment you really need serial/console access to the device. I have since dumped the knock-off, and all is right with the world. What is even better, is I now have a Bluetooth to serial adapter. I cut a cisco console cable down to about 12 inches, Crimped a new end on it. And now I can perform my serial work without being in the datacenter. I also have started using SecureCRT which has an install for Mac’s. It is a little pricey, but worth it. Keep up the good work!

    • Dan Brown May 6, 2015 at 9:48 pm - Reply

      Joe - which model bluetooth adapter are you using? I’ve looked for one in the past, but have never purchased one.

      • Joeb May 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm - Reply

        dan- I am using a SIIG wireless rs-232 adapter. I have rigged up an old power supply from a trendnet fiber to Ethernet adapter since it matched the required input/output volt/amps. That way I do not have to use my battery pack, or a usb connection for power. Once I figure out how to attach a picture in the post. I have one for you that has the ID/model #/ etc.. I believe it was purchased from Amazon. The only pain with it is that if you have to change the baud rate, stop bits, or parity. You have to use a windows machine to save the info to the adapter. I am sure there is a way to do it with OS X. I just have not had the time to investigate since most connections are 9600, 8, none,1.

  2. Trever May 11, 2015 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I tend to use minicom, which can be found in the homebrew ports or you can go find the source and compile it yourself. #OldSchool

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