Launch and connect to an Amazon EC2 Mac instance

10 minute tutorial


Amazon EC2 Mac instances enable customers to run on-demand macOS workloads in the cloud for the first time, extending the flexibility, scalability, and cost benefits of AWS to all Apple developers. With EC2 Mac instances, developers creating apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Safari can provision and access macOS environments within minutes, dynamically scale capacity as needed, and benefit from AWS’s pay-as-you-go pricing.

In this tutorial, you launch and connect to an Amazon EC2 Mac instance by allocating an Amazon EC2 Dedicated Host. Launching a EC2 Mac instance is a two step process where you first allocate a mac1 Dedicated Host, and then launch a mac1.metal instance onto the Dedicated Host.

There is a 24-hour minimum allocation duration that is applicable to the Dedicated Host itself, not to your mac1.metal instance. You can launch and terminate mac1.metal instances as you want on that mac1 Dedicated Host, for example, to switch between a macOS Catalina-based AMI and a macOS Big Sur-based AMI. However, once you allocate a mac1 Dedicated Host, you cannot release it until 24 hours later (the minimum lease period is 24 hours for the physical server). Once past those initial 24 hours, you can release the host anytime you want. This time period is to comply with the macOS Software Licensing Agreement.

As with all Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts, you pay per second for the entire duration that Dedicated Host is allocated to your account. Instances launched or terminated on that Dedicated Host have no separate charge. Since the minimum host allocation duration for mac1 Dedicated Hosts is 24 hours, by definition, you pay for a minimum 24 hours.

What You Will Learn

  • How to allocate a mac1 Dedicated Host in your account
  • How to launch a mac1.metal instance on a Dedicated Host
  • How to connect to a mac1.metal instance over SSH
  • How to clean up your resources

 AWS Experience


 Time to Complete

10 minutes

 Cost to Complete

Approx. $26


You will need an  AWS account to complete this tutorial. If you do not have an AWS account, create a new AWS account to get started.
  • In this step, you allocate a mac1 Dedicated Host in your account. With Amazon EC2 Mac instances, you have the full performance of the underlying Mac mini. Amazon EC2 Mac instances run on physical host machines that are dedicated to one account, known as Dedicated Hosts.

    1.1 — Sign in to the AWS Management Console, and open the EC2 Dashboard. Choose Dedicated Hosts, then choose Allocate Dedicated Host.

    1.2 On the Allocate Dedicated Host page, make the following selections:

    • For Name tag, type EC2 Mac Dedicated Host.
    • For Instance family, choose mac1.
    • For Support multiple instance types, clear the Enable check box.
    • For Instance type, choose mac1.metal.
    • For Availability Zone, choose any zone in your Region.

    Keep the remaining default selections and choose Allocate.

    Once allocated, the Dedicated Host appears with a status of Available.
  • In this step, you configure and launch your Amazon EC2 Mac instance. Amazon EC2 Mac instances are offered as bare-metal instances running on top of single-tenant, Dedicated Hosts to comply with macOS licensing.  

    2.1 — On the EC2 Dashboard, choose Launch Instance.

    2.2 — On the Choose AMI page, select the macOS Catalina (10.15.7) AMI.

    2.3 — On the Choose Instance Type page, keep the default selection of mac1.metal instance and choose Next: Configure Instance Details.

    2.4 — On the Configure Instance Details page, for Host, choose the Dedicated Host you allocated in Step 1. For the remaining configuration details, make any selections you prefer. Then, choose Next: Add Storage.

    2.5 — On the Add Storage page, choose the Size (GiB) cell and increase the volume to 250 GB. Then, choose Next: Add Tags.

    2.6 — On the Add Tags page, optionally add any Key:Value tags to your instance. Then, choose Next: Configure Security Group.

    2.7 — On the Configure Security Group page, make the following selections:

    • For Assign a security group, choose Create a new security group.
    • For Security group name, type a descriptive name, such as ssh into mac1.metal.
    • For Description, optionally add a description.
    • For Type, choose SSH.
    • For Source, choose My IP.

    Then, choose Review and Launch.

    2.8 — On the Review page, review your selections and verify that the Host ID matches the Dedicated Host you created in Step 1. Then, choose Launch.

    2.9 — On the Select an existing key pair or create a new key pair dialog, verify your existing key pair (if you do not have a key pair, select the option to create a new key pair). Then, select the acknowlegement check box and choose Launch Instances.

    2.10 — On the Launch Status page, choose the instance ID to return to the Instances section of the EC2 Dashboard.

    2.11 — On the Instances page, wait for the Status Check column of your instance to show 2/2 checks passed before continuing to Step 3.

  • In this step, you use an EC2 key pair to connect to your Amazon EC2 Mac instance over SSH.  

    3.1  — On the EC2 Dashboard, select your EC2 Mac Instance and choose Connect.

    3.2  — On the Connect to an instance dialog, choose SSH client. Follow the instructions in the dialog for SSH client to connect to your mac1.metal instance.

    Once connected, you will have command line access to your mac1.metal instance.
  • In this step, you terminate the resources you used in this lab.

    Important: Terminating resources that are not actively being used reduces costs and is a best practice. Not terminating your resources will result in charges to your account.

    4.1 — Delete the Amazon EC2 Mac instance:

    • On the EC2 Dashboard, choose Instances, then choose Instances (Running).
    • Select the mac1.metal instance you created for this tutorial.
    • Choose Instance state, then choose Terminate instance.

    4.2 — Delete the Dedicated Host:
    You cannot release the host until 24 hours have passed since you first allocated the host.

    • On the EC2 Dashboard, choose Dedicated Hosts.
    • Select the Dedicated Host you created for this tutorial.
    • Choose Actions, then choose Release host.
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You successfully launched and connected to an Amazon EC2 Mac instance by allocating a Dedicated Host, running an instance on that host, and using an EC2 key pair to connect to the instance over SSH. As a next step, enable VNC for remote GUI access or configure CI/CD tools like Fastlane and Jenkins. Explore additional resources on the AWS Compute Blog.