SSH from the browser

Using the SSH from the browser window lets you use SSH to connect to a Compute Engine virtual machine (VM) instance from within the Google Cloud Console. You do not need to install web browser extensions or additional software to use this feature. SSH from the browser is an alternative to other methods of connecting to an instance.

Connecting to a Linux VM instance

Compute Engine manages your SSH keys for you whenever you connect to a Linux instance from your browser, creating and applying SSH key pairs when needed. You cannot manage the SSH keys that are used to connect from the browser. Instead, user access to connect from the browser is controlled by Identity and Access Management roles. The principals that have access to a project can be viewed from the IAM page in the Google Cloud Console:

Go to the IAM page

To connect through the browser, you must have the Compute Instance Admin role or an equivalent custom role. If your instance can run as a service account, you must also have the Service Account User role. If you do not have access to connect through the browser, ask a project owner to grant you access.

After you have been granted access, connect to a Linux instance directly from your web browser in the Cloud Console:

  1. In the Cloud Console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. In the list of virtual machine instances, click SSH in the row of the instance that you want to connect to.

    SSH button next to instance name.

Alternatively, you can open an SSH connection to an instance by clicking its name and clicking SSH from the instance details page.

You can now use the terminal to run commands on your Linux instance. When you have finished, disconnect from the instance by using the exit command.

If an instance is configured to allow TCP tunneling through Identity-Aware Proxy, you can connect to the instance using SSH from the browser. This is especially useful for instances without an external IP address. To enable it, see Identity-Aware Proxy TCP forwarding. Note: IAP is the default route for instances configured with TCP tunneling and an external IP address.

Supported environments

SSH from the browser supports the following:

  • Web browsers
    • Latest version of Google Chrome
    • Firefox
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 and later
    • Safari 8 and later. Note that Safari in private browser mode is not supported.
  • Virtual machine configurations
    • All Linux VM images that are natively available in Google Cloud.

Known issues

  • Slow SSH key transfer times. By default, SSH in the browser pushes a new SSH key to project metadata on every new connection. This can be slow on projects with large amounts of VMs. To speed up key transfer, consider blocking project-wide SSH keys or enabling OS Login.

  • Startup latency. Current connection time using SSH from the browser is 5 to 30 seconds. Current versions of the guest environment support quicker connections.

  • New VM instances aren't immediately available. New instances take some time to boot up before SSH can be established. If you can't connect to a new instance, retry after a few minutes.

  • Intermittent disconnects. At this time, we don't offer a specific SLA for connection lifetimes. Use terminal multiplexers like tmux or screen if you plan to keep the terminal window open for an extended period of time.

  • Connecting to instances that don't have an external IP address. If your Compute Engine instance only has an internal IP address, use one of the following options to connect:

    • SSH from the browser with configured Identity-Aware Proxy TCP forwarding.

    • SSH from the browser with bastion host. To use this option, both the target and bastion instances must be in the same VPC network or in VPC networks that are connected.

      To connect using SSH from the browser with a bastion host, complete the following steps:

      1. Use SSH from the browser to connect to the bastion instance that has an external IP address. This step generates a temporary SSH key pair and uploads the public key to the project or instance metadata for the bastion host.
      2. From the bastion instance, connect to the target instance that only has an internal IP address. To connect to the target instance from the bastion instance, run the following command, replacing internal-ip with the internal IP address of the target instance:

        ssh -A internal-ip

        You must run this command within approximately two minutes after connecting to the bastion instance before you can use the temporary key generated in the first step.

  • Ctrl+W closes the window. Ctrl+W, Ctrl+F4, Ctrl+Tab, and other key combinations that work as browser keyboard shortcuts are not passed by the SSH client to the target system. To send these or other shortcuts, click the keyboard icon in the upper right of the window. If you use the Google Chrome browser, you can install the "SSH for Google Cloud Platform" extension. The extension improves the console experience for SSH from the browser and Cloud Shell by giving you direct access to keyboard shortcuts normally reserved by the browser, such as Ctrl+W.

  • File transfer can sometimes be slow for large files. We recommend that you use the gcloud compute scp command to transfer large files.

Handling the "Could not connect, retrying..." error

  • The instance might not be running the guest environment. Verify that the guest environment is installed and running.

  • The boot disk of the instance has run out of free space. When the connection is established, the guest environment updates the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file with the public SSH key used for the current session. If the disk runs out of free space, the update fails. To identify issues with disk space, check the serial console output of the instance and look for "No space left" errors. Here are some methods that you can use to resolve disk space issues:

    • Resize the boot persistent disk of the instance to increase its size. If the operating system image used by the instance supports automatic resizing, this is the easiest option because the operating system automatically resizes the root partition to match the new size after the instance is restarted.
    • If you know which files are using the disk space, create a startup script that deletes the unnecessary files and frees space for the instance to start. Restart the instance so that the script executes and cleans the files. Be careful to use the correct command and delete the correct files. After your instance starts and you are able to connect to the instance through SSH, set the startup-script metadata item back so it does not continue to delete the files.
    • For information about how to access the instance's disk, see General tips for using Compute Engine.
  • The permissions or ownership on $HOME, $HOME/.ssh, or $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys might be wrong.

    • Ownership The guest environment needs to be able to store the public SSH key in the $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys file for the connecting user. Make sure that the owner of the $HOME directory, the $HOME/.ssh directory, and the authorized_keys file is the same as the connecting user.
    • Permissions Try connecting as a different user by changing the username and fix any permission issues for the user who can't connect.

      Directory/File Required Unix permission
      The $HOME directory 0755 or
      The $HOME/.ssh directory 0700
      The authorized_keys file 0600


You can copy and paste text by using the keyboard shortcuts supported by your browser and platform (Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V on Windows and Linux, Cmd+C/Cmd+V on macOS, and Ctrl+Shift+V on Chrome OS). In general, these commands work for most configurations, but your configuration might render different results. If you encounter problems copying and pasting large blocks of text, use file transfer instead.

Transfer files

If you can establish an SSH connection to an instance by using the SSH from the Browser window, you can use that connection to transfer files to the instance.

For more information, see