I am monitoring a website and want to know if there is a way that I can view the pictures via ssh rather than loading the website each time.

  • so you have ssh access to the server and are watching the images directory? – Frank Thomas Feb 26 '13 at 13:46
  • Yes, I setup a scritp to alert me when something new is added. Now I want to be able to view it and remove or approve via ssh. – mrhobbeys Feb 26 '13 at 14:04

13 Answers 13


You haven't said what Operating System you are connecting from. If you are using a *nix running an X server, you can use ssh X forwarding. This will enable you to run graphical applications on the remote server and have them displayed on the local machine. For example:

ssh -Y user@server
eog pictures/foo.png

Assuming the server has eog installed, this should cause the image to be opened and displayed on your screen.

For future reference, when asking questions on this site it is a good idea to specify the system you are using because the correct answer will often depend on it.

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  • I'm on windows with putty and xming today, so I am going to give this a try. – mrhobbeys Feb 26 '13 at 15:10
  • This works nicely. – mrhobbeys Feb 26 '13 at 15:20
  • I had a system without a working eog, in that case feh img.png is a viable option, too – 0-_-0 May 4 at 12:34

if you are on OS X, using iTerm2, you can do imgcat and display the image right in the terminal.

https://www.iterm2.com/documentation-images.htmlenter image description here

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  • What if you're on osx with iterm 2 and have used ssh to get into a remote machine? – Andrew Hundt Mar 21 '17 at 22:20
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    It will work if you have the imgcat script on the server. – Dyno Fu Mar 21 '17 at 22:25
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    imgcat, wouldn't an image of a cat be more appropriate? – CousinCocaine Jun 18 '18 at 21:12
  • Does the server have to be OS X? What exactly should I do if my server is Ubuntu and my client is Mac? – Sridhar Sarnobat Sep 3 '19 at 20:30
  • there is no requirement on server. if you are ssh from the terminal, the server has to have imgcat. basically, imgcat convert the image to something iTerm2 can understand. – Dyno Fu Sep 3 '19 at 20:38

This is a common pain point amongst computer vision researchers. I created a tiny script (https://github.com/nicodjimenez/ImgView) which I use to serve images in a directory on a remote machine via python run.py -d path/to/image/dir/. Then I use ssh tunneling to forward a local port to the remote port on which I am running the server, and then I just view the images on my local machine by pointing my web browser to my local port, by default This approach is the most flexible for viewing images over ssh because you can control the appearance of the display.

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  • Looks like the repo is down, but this can also be accomplished with the built in web server python -m SimpleHTTPServer. Also if your local machine and server are on a VPN, there's no need to ssh forward. – crizCraig May 8 '17 at 1:40
  • With python 3: python -m http.server. Will serve al files in current folder. – fabian789 Aug 5 '19 at 12:05
  • I created another library called shis. It's similar to the one described by @nicodjimenez, except that it creates thumbnails of all image files and serves them in a nice gallery format. github.com/nikhilweee/shis – nikhilweee Nov 18 at 3:57

On Linux you could redirect ssh output. With the help of an image viewer able to read from the standard input (see Is there an image viewer that takes images on STDIN? ) and the Unix Pipe |, I get:

ssh remote_host "cat /remote/path/to/image" | display

PS: this requires ImageMagick's display program on the local host. The command between quotes is executed by ssh on the remote host. Or for other image viewers (here Gnome eog image viewer):

FIFO=$(mktemp -u);
ssh remote_host "cat /remote/path/to/image" > "$FIFO";
eog  "$FIFO" && rm "$FIFO";
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tiv (or similar tools) should do in most cases. This does not require any special terminal emulators since it only prints RGB ANSI codes.

enter image description here

Also supports wildcards.

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I've tried a few of the methods listed by other answers on this page, and I've tried them on both Ubuntu 20 and MacOS Mojave (my machine is a dual-booted abomination). On both systems I found that using the -X flag with ssh and then eog works, but is a bit slow and clunky. X-forwarding can be fine if you're browsing through small directories, but can become completely unusable if the directory you're working in has large amounts of data.

The best method I've seen is sshfs. It's a piece of cake to set up and I've found it to be extremely flexible. Basically it mounts the remote file system as a local drive, allowing you to either view the remote files or transfer files between your local runtime and the remote host - much easier and more intuitive than scp (though scp is a useful skill to know).


I'm not sure about previous versions, but Ubuntu 20.04 came with sshfs. If your version of Ubuntu doesn't have it, you can install it with

sudo apt install sshfs

To use it, you will need an empty directory. I have mine in my home directory and have named it sc. To set it up you run the command:

sshfs -o follow_symlinks <user>@<server address>:/~/ sc

Voila! When you use your file explorer or terminal to open sc you'll see the remote drive mounted.


The steps are nearly the same as the ones for Linux/Ubuntu. The difference here is that MacOS doesn't come with sshfs installed, and sshfs also requires some dependencies that also aren't included in MacOS. So first, we install these dependencies with:

brew install osxfuse

Now we can install sshfs with:

brew install sshfs

Then to mount the remote drive you need to make a local empty directory - I call mine sc and it's located in my home directory. Then you mount the remote drive in the remote directory with

sshfs -o follow_symlinks <user>@<server address>:/~/ sc

When you open sc with your favorite file explorer (such as Finder on MacOS) you'll find the remote drive there, probably with the name OSXFUSE Volume 0...

Hope this helps!

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In general you may transfer the media data, e.g. images, to your local desktop or the ssh terminal itself if capable of displaying media:

  • XWindow forwarding: brings any desktop imageviewer application from the remote host to your display
  • sftp: any sftp-client transfers the media to your local desktop where you may launch an image viewer
  • ssh filesystem: a bit like sftp, but the remote filesystem is seamlessly integrated locally so local image viewers may launch
  • Or webbased: This terminal (like many others) is itself capable of displaying image data (the image data is "cat"ed !)

http://liftoffsoftware.com/Products/GateOne enter image description here

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So what worked for me, using mac as my local machine and AWS's EC2 as my server (Ubuntu OS) was the following:

  • Install the open source xQuartz application on your mac, you can find it here.
  • Launch the application xQuartz. This will open a terminal window.
  • Connect to your server using X11 forwarding: ssh -Y user@server or ssh -X user@server
  • Go to the directory on your server with the pictures
  • Open the picture you want with: xdg-open picture_name. This will open up a window on your mac with the image.
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If you have the path of the pictures you can like Frank Thomas said then you can download them and open them in a picture viewer via scp or maybe sftp if you have access. If you're using linux then do a wget on the pictures, but of course you can't open them in a shell, so downloading them is you best option if you are talking purely shell.

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  • This wouldn't really work well only because at that point it would be easier to open a browser to see them. – mrhobbeys Feb 26 '13 at 14:05
  • Well it depends on the setup, because if the picture names have a similar path and naming convention, then it could be scripted and turned into a cronjob. – MDMoore313 Feb 26 '13 at 14:22

You can also use sshfs, if you're under Linux.

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  • or use WinSCP if on Windows. – Frank Thomas Feb 26 '13 at 15:27
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    @FrankThomas: Well, that wasn't what I had in mind. With sshfs you can simply mount the remote file system and it will behave as if the files are on your computer. No need to download anything... – carlspring Feb 26 '13 at 15:41

I use thunar (a file manager, also works with nautilus and probably others) to do this kind of stuff.

If you enter the address:


It will connect via ssh (optionally asking for a password/passphrase) and it will display the filesystem visually, where you can open the images with a viewer (eg. gpicview or eog, but I found eog to be slow in this case).

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You can add a network storage in your systemfile explorer :

Adding a server

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Visual Studio Code's SSH extension lets you view remote images in the editor. It's cross-platform and does not require a local X server.

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