Apps for a Network Engineer Part 1: MAC

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MAC for Network Engineers

I am not going to play bias in anyway towards any particular apps. I’m surely not going to get into the debate between Windows or Apple as a primary computer. In fact, I’ve spent the last 4 years using Windows exclusively for work due to work issued laptops and the lack of support for Mac in the companies I have worked with. However, I recently purchased a new Mac to get back to what I personally like best, with that, I had to rebuild my app repetoir for doing my job on a Macbook. This took some digging and searching to find apps similar to what I used on Windows. I’m still searching for all the app alternatives but I figured I could make this into a working document of my favorite apps in terms of network engineering.

Terminal Applications:


This isn’t my favorite terminal program but that mostly due to my own dislike of change. It took me a bit to get used to the difference in how profiles and connections are set up moving from SecureCRT for Windows. Zoc6 is a solid program that naturally handles SSH and Telnet sessions like a champ. It also has no problem with USB to Serial adapters and supports all of the fun tricks like sending a config file to the terminal. Also, it functions well with one of my favorite serial adapters, Airconsole


It’s hard for me not to love this tool. There are some features that just make my day that much easier. Logging is simple to set up for every session. It supports sending commands to multiple sessions at one time. Also a hidden gem in the ability to highlight keywords in the output of the terminal. Again, this tool functions very well with all of your serial adapters.

iTerm and Terminal

Terminal is built into the Mac operating system and is a quick and easy to run ssh or telnet session. Really good for getting you connect in a flash or a bind. As far as iTerm goes, it’s just a slightly more pretty version of the build in terminal to me, but a great alternative to Zoc6 and SecureCRT for low cost.

Text Editors:


Sublime is a very popular text editor and syntax highlighter for Mac (I belive it is cross platform as well). Whether just writing a config file or script to push to a device, or writing code for web page, or mayber diving into Python for the SDN rush. This is just a solid go to text editor with great features such as column editing and much more.


This seems to be another very popular text editor in the Mac world. I’ve seen many that recommend and love this app. It does work very well. To me, switching from years of Windows where I used Notepad++ back to Mac I found Sublime felt a little more familiar to me.


This is the built in Mac version of the Windows Notepad. Again, this is what it is and really doesn’t need much explination.

TFTP Servers:

TFTP Builtin

With Mac being built on top of *nix, it has many daemons that you can kick off if you are comfortable on the *nix command line or have some decently written scripts to run. Naturally, it’s nice to have a build in option as you are relying on third party apps to do the job. However, I’m a fan of a quick app launch with visual of whats going on quickly.


Coming from the Windows world, I loved TFTPD32. It was by far my favorite TFTP app with built in Syslog and TFTP Get ability. I found TftpServer which mimics the launch and bind functionality of the Windows TFPTD32 app. However, it is still missing a couple of features that I’m still trying to find an app to replace such as acting as a Syslog collector. Also, TftpServer requires you to create the file before you can download it from the network device. This isn’t a huge deal but it does create one extra step.

Remote Desktop Tools:

Microsoft Remote Desktop for MAC

This is another one of the apps that is what it is. It functions, and functions rather similar to Microsofts MSTSC. Simply type in your IP address / DNS Name and go.


This app allows you to create a nice list of of terminal servers you may need to RDP into. It also supports a few different “view” modes that seem to work very well for me.


I’ve heard a lot of good reviews from this RDP app. As well as recieved recommendations for it from some very reputible individuals. I haven’t bitten the bullet yet as it does have a cost and I don’t find RDP to be that feature rich where spending money on an app for it makes sense

Network Analyzers:


I think this is a given. If you do anything with network equipment, servers, applications, etc. you use Wireshark. The best news about this, it recently had a dev release that supports Wireshark Natively on newer Macs.


I’ve been using NetSpot as a adhoc quick wireless survey tool. While it’s not as accurate and reliable as a paid and proven wireless survey and mapping tool, it does meet the bill for a quick “walkthrough”

Apple BuiltIn

Apple has some hidden builtin network analyzers and wifi scanners. While by no means are they perfect or the most functional, they work in a bind.


A solid WiFi stumbler with support for USB cards to support passive scanning.

File Comparison:

Beyond Compare

This is a simple tool that has the ability to compare to configuration files, well, two files of any type. I mostly use it for configuration files or output from show commands. However, if you are also writing scripts or any other type of code it can compare those too. Also, it has the ability to compare folders for the files inside of them. All this while being able to copy the missing lines from one side to the other.


Another alternative to the above Beyond Compare. This popped up while I was trying to find my Mac alternative to WinMerge. This is a pretty clean and simple app, however it can only copy the lines form the “left” file to the “right” file.



With no native application from Microsoft for Visio, omingraffle is the go to native app for many individuals. However, I will say that most I’ve spoken with use some means of running Visio on their Macs.


This is the kind of network diagrams. However, as noted above it will require some means to run in on your Mac. Many people user either Parallels or VMware Fusion to run a Windows VM on their Mac for apps such as this. I have had pretty good luck using CrossOver by CodeWeavers to run Visio. Crossover allows you to use some apps without a full virtualization of Windows helping with resource utilization.

Proof of Concept Tools:


GNS3 is a heavily used means of running Cisco software to do proof of concept on many routing and firewall topologies. It also supports many different vendors to test interoperability and much more. With recent upgrades they have added the support of IOU based switching for some limited Layer 2 abilities.


Ciscos Packet Tracer is an often used tool for educating students in the Cisco Network Academy on CCNA level topics. While it has it’s limitations it can be a simple PoC tool or mentoring tool with the ease of sharing files back and forth. While it isn’t native on the Mac, tools such as Crossover or the common VM platforms will allow you to run it when need.


Recently Cisco has made their VIRL product publicly accessible. It has some great features such as quick topology spin ups including preconfiguring basic IP addressing and routing protocols. This is a product to keep an eye on for learning and PoC as it appears Cisco is going to keep putting more development time into it and enhance it with more and more features and Cisco OS versions.


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