How to Access the Command Line

Last modified: February 19, 2024


While cPanel & WHM automates many server administration tasks, familiarity with the Linux command line (CLI) can prove useful for both WHM and cPanel users. This documentation describes how to access the command line.

  • cPanel & WHM requires the root user to use BASH by default. System administrators can modify the shell for other users.
  • You can use cPanel’s Terminal interface (cPanel » Home » Advanced » Terminal) or WHM’s Terminal interface (WHM » Home » Advanced » Terminal) to access the command line from within the interface.

Access the command line

To access your cPanel & WHM server from the command line, perform the following steps:

  1. Use the correct method for your computer’s operating system to open the CLI:

    • Microsoft Windows® — Open the Command Prompt program. To do this, click Start and enter Command Prompt in the Search text box. Double-click Command Prompt in the list that appears.
    • macOS® — Open the Terminal program. To do this, click the Applications icon in the dock, click the Utilities icon, and then click the Terminal icon.
    • Ubuntu® — Open the Terminal program. To do this, press the Ctrl, Alt, and T keys simultaneously.
  2. Your CLI program opens with access to the local computer. You must use SSH to access the cPanel & WHM server. To do this, enter the following command and press Enter:

    ssh username@hostname

    In this comment, username is your account’s username and hostname is the server’s hostname. For example, to log in as the root user on the server, run the following command:

  3. The CLI prompts you for the account’s password. Enter it and press Enter.

  4. The CLI’s display will appear similar to the following example:

    Last login: Fri Feb  6 12:50:38 on ttys000
    MyComputer:~ myname$ ssh [email protected]
    Last login: Fri Feb  6 12:52:33 2015 from
    username@example [~]#
    You can now navigate the server’s file system and run commands, within the limits of your account’s permissions on the server.


If you receive an error message that appears similar to the following example, you may not have SSH privileges enabled on the server.

ssh: connect to host port 22: Connection refused

Contact your hosting provider or system administrator for more information. Because command line access (shell access) has certain security implications, many hosting providers restrict this access.

Additional Documentation