PuTTY: Extreme Makeover Using PuTTY Connection Manager

by Ramesh Natarajan on March 16, 2009

PuTTY LogoThis article is part of the on-going Software For Geeks series.

PuTTY Connection Manager was mentioned in the 12 PuTTY add-ons that we discussed a while back. One of the major missing features in PuTTY is the ability to display multiple sessions in Tabs.

PuTTY CM displays multiple PuTTY sessions in Tabs. In this article, let us review in detail the 5 powerful features of the PuTTY Connection Manager that will make PuTTY more enjoyable.

Download PuttyCM: PuttyCM website seems to be down for some time now. Until that site comes backup, you can download puttycm.exe that I’ve been using.

Download the PuTTY Connection Manager. PuTTY CM is written in C#. You need .NET 2.0. When you install PuTTY CM for the first time, you need to specify the location of the PuTTY executable.

Feature 1: Display Multiple PuTTY Sessions in Tab

If the PuTTY Connection Manager opens the original PuTTY in a separate window, instead of opening as a TAB, please go to Tools -> Options -> Select the check-box “Enable additional timing for PuTTY capture (ms)” -> set the value to 500 ms. This will open the PuTTY window inside the TAB as shown below.

Tabs for PuTTY

Fig: PuTTY sessions in Tabs

Feature 2: Dockable Windows for PuTTY Sessions

Apart from displaying multiple PuTTY sessions in Tabs, PuTTY CM can also show different PuTTY sessions in panels.

In the example below, to move the qa-box PuTTY session to the bottom panel, left-click on the qa-box tab and hold the mouse until it displays the panel symbol (which will be like a Plus symbol) in the middle of the screen. Now move the mouse to the bottom of the plus, which will high-light the bottom portion of the screen indicating that the qa-box session will be moved to the bottom panel.

PuTTY Dockable Windows

Fig: Select the Panel to dock a PuTTY session


Now, release the mouse, which will move the qa-box to the bottom panel as shown below.

Multiple PuTTY Sessions in Panels

Fig: Selected PuTTY session docked in proper panel


Using the similar technique you can move all the PuTTY sessions to different panels as shown below.

PuTTY Sessions in four panels

Fig: Multiple PuTTY Sessions docked appropriately

Feature 3: Encrypted PuTTY Configuration Database

By default, PuTTY session informations are stored in the windows registry, which are not encrypted. If you want to keep the session information (ip-address, session name etc.,) encrypted, you can use the database encryption feature available in the PuTTY CM

  • Download the AES encryption library (pcmcrypt.dll) from PuTTY CM website.
  • Place this file in the PuTTY CM program folder. C:\Program Files\PuTTY Connection Manager
  • Restart the PuTTY CM
  • Go to Tools menu -> Options -> Database -> under the Encryption section, the available algorithms should display “AES Rinjdael Managed” as shown below, indicating that the encryption library is successfully installed.

Enable PuTTY Encryption

Fig: Enable Encryption


Click on File -> New -> Database and enter the appropriate information as shown below to create a secure PuTTY session database. Follow the best practices to create a strong password while choosing the passphrase for the secure database.

  • Database Name: putty-secure-sessions
  • Click on Enable database encryption check-box
  • Select “AES Rinjdael Managed 256 bits”
  • Enter a strong passphrase for the database.
  • Click on ‘Create database’ to create the database as shown below.

Create Encrypted PuTTY Database

Fig: Create Encrypted PuTTY session database

  • Click on File menu -> save database to save the database to a physical file.
  • Now the ‘putty-secure-sessions’ database will be displayed under the Connection manager as shown below

PuTTY Connection Manager Displaying Encrypted Database

Fig: PuTTY Connection Manager displaying Encrypted Session database

  • Right mouse-click on the ‘putty-secure-sessions’ database name -> Click on New -> Click on Connection, to create a new secure PuTTY session.

Feature 4: Automatic PuTTY Session Login

Once you’ve created a secure PuTTY session as mentioned above, you can setup automatic login. i.e you can save the uid/pwd for the individual PuTTY session in the secure database. i.e When you double-click on a particular secure PuTTY session, it will login automatically.

From the putty-secure-sessions database, select a particular PuTTY session, right mouse-click and select Configuration, click on the ‘Enable Macro’ check-box as shown below.

Automatic Login for PuTTY Session

Fig: Enable Login Macro For a PuTTY Session


From the same PuTTY session configuration window, click on the ‘Login Macro’ from the left-side menu and enter the uid/pwd as shown below.

PuTTY Automatic Connection Credentials

Fig: Automatic Login Setup for a PuTTY Session


Now, when you double-click on that particular PuTTY session, it will do the login automatically using the credentials you’ve provided.

Feature 5: PuTTY Session Post-Login Commands

You can also setup post-login command, which will get executed automatically after you login.

The setup of post-login commands is done under the same ‘Login macro’ screen under the ‘Post-login command’ section. Click on ‘Enable post-login commands’ check-box and you can set a total of 5 post login commands as shown below.

PuTTY Session - Execute commands after login

Fig: Execute Commands automatically after login


Apart from the above 5 powerful features, PuTTY Connection Manager have the following features:

  • Ability to select multiple themes
  • Import and Export PuTTY sessions
  • PuTTY CM also comes as standalone executable that can be launched directly from an USB thumb drive.
  • Did I mention that PuTTY Connection Manager is a freeware ?
  • Finally, make sure to read 10 Awesome PuTTY Tips and Tricks You Probably Didn’t Know

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 beq March 16, 2009 at 10:21 am

omg… its a really kick-ass connection manager now!

thanks a lot for the article!

2 nicole March 17, 2009 at 7:19 am

Oh, I’ve been waiting years for this change! That’s great! But btw. why “software for geeks”? Putty is something which is absolutely necessary on a pc :) !

3 Dan Vigliotti March 17, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Very nice find!

4 Adam Trickett March 18, 2009 at 6:38 am

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do not store passwords in a database, encrypted or otherwise. Learn to use SSH properly and use the Putty Agent to store your keys in memory.

Multi tabbed interface is okay, though not strictly necessary but storing passwords is a very bad idea and you shouldn’t be suggesting it.

5 Octávio March 18, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Do you use AES from .NET? The onw with backdoors for MS, NSA, CIA, etc?
Very patriotic! :-)

6 KCDesi March 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

Hi

Thanks for the article. This is a big time saver with my telnet connections to multiple servers.

KCDesi

7 Tiff April 26, 2009 at 5:24 pm

WHat dose PuTTY Connection Manager Accually do ?? is it to spy on someone elses computer like a Keylogger ??

8 raja July 30, 2009 at 12:07 am

hi ,
Thanks for this valuable info.This is very useful for me.

thanks,
Raja K

9 Ramesh Natarajan August 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

@Beq, @Dan, @KCDesi, @Raja,

I’m glad you found this article very help. I appreciate your comment.

@Nicole,

Yeah. It is not just for “Geeks”, it is for everybody. From a windows user points of view, if you can use command-line and SSH to a unix box, you are a geek. :-)

@Adam, @Octavio,

The encryption feature was mentioned as a FYI for others, if they choose to use it.

@Tiff,

You may want to re-read the article again to figure out what exactly “PuTTY Connection Manager” does. It definitely doesn’t do what you’ve mentioned in your comment.

10 benjamin August 18, 2009 at 6:56 am

Thanks. Just the recipe I need
– tab
– autologin

11 ragu September 23, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Can i save the full session of my telnet of router or other devices using the Putty Connection Manager. I tried but i could not save the telnet session of the routers.

12 kumar October 13, 2009 at 7:56 am

Hi, Thanks for the gr8 tool.

I have a question: Do we have any similar tool to access multiple screens, eg: If i login into Prod: and i want to handle multiple tasks at a time, as a normal process we fo by “ screen ” and ctrl + a “ c ” or screen number.

So in order to manage multiple screens do we have a simillar tool? ?

If yes please let me know , thanks
– Kumar

13 webmaster October 24, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Very cool, I’ve only ever used portaputty on windows due to the security issues.. of windows.. but I need this now, thanks and nice site!

14 geekmaster November 4, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Please do not use the database to store the password, not a safe practice. Ramesh Natarajan, you know better than that. Nice tool, but it may has hidden agenda: ” stealing your password!” so please don’t bla bla bla and cry Ramesh Natarajan, that you are not trying to do that

15 Krishna November 15, 2009 at 8:41 am

Hi,

Thanks for the nice article. I have got one question though.
Is there a way to include the ‘pwd’ in the tab label?

Thanks,
Krishna

16 Meir March 2, 2010 at 8:25 am

Great! When will you add PuTTYcyg support?

Thanks,
Meir

17 Parves March 13, 2010 at 10:55 am

Its nice manager for multiple login system. Is it work with Vista?
I was tried but not working if go for login then got the error like follwoing error. Please confirm me someone how can i solve it?.

An unexpected error occured :
Object reference not set an instance of an object.
Check log for further informations.
(C:\Program Files\PuTTY Coonection Manager\puttycm.log)

got msg in puttycm.log file :
3/13/2010 10:00:11 AM:Unable to find PuTTY sessions (registry key ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions’ does not exist)
3/13/2010 10:00:11 AM:Unable to find PuTTY sessions (registry key ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions’ does not exist)

How can i solve it?

18 CM June 9, 2010 at 11:55 am

Parves,

You would need to go to the registry (regedit from command console), serach for “putty connection manager” and delete all the entries in reference to connection manager (CM) and putty.

19 Kiran June 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

Hi,

I need to use Login Macro mode but whenever I enable it, instead of putting my username it directly jumps to the password hence fails to login. It looks like slow connection to the server from my laptop. Any solution / suggestion?

Cheers,
~Kiran

20 rt August 8, 2010 at 7:11 am

got msg in puttycm.log file :
3/13/2010 10:00:11 AM:Unable to find PuTTY sessions (registry key ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions’ does not exist)
3/13/2010 10:00:11 AM:Unable to find PuTTY sessions (registry key ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions’ does not exist)

any suggestions ?

21 SDRebel August 24, 2010 at 8:40 am

Kiran,
Play around with the timers/delays. They are very useful and work for very different login timings.

22 Dave September 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

Putty Connection Manager fails every time I minimize it. I’m using Win 7 Home Premium x64 and it won’t display when clicking on th minimized icon. I then have to kill it and all of the Putty processes manually to access it again. What a PITA. I’m using mRemote now and it works great though it also suffers from having to kill all of the Putty sessions manually when you exit the program.

23 braynyac September 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

@Dave,

Download Process Explorer from Microsoft (formerly SysInternals), and save the extracted executable to %windir% (this way it launches directly from start -> run -> procexp). When I minimize PCM and it does not come back, I open ProcExp, find the process, right click, select the top option (Window ->) and then select Bring to Front, which pulls it right back up for me (most of the time). If it doesn’t work, *then* I have to kill it and restart, but it works >90% of the time.

Hope this helps!

~Braynyac

24 TimV October 7, 2010 at 2:44 am

I’ve got the same error as rt.

The error comes when clicking in the Connection Manager on the right.

Can anyone help?

25 TimV October 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

I’ve got the solution!

The error, “Unable to find PuTTY sessions” can be solved by saving a connection in Putty, this connection will be stored in “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions”

After that I still had an error, “Error : Object reference not set to an instance of an object.” This can be solved here . Works for me!

Good luck!

26 PrimeRibAndADew December 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

For 3 days I’ve been trying to download putty cm from
http://puttycm.free.fr/cms/ but it appears to be down. I get this error:
Database Error: Unable to connect to the database:Could not connect to MySQL

Is there somewhere else I can get it from?

27 kwek December 27, 2010 at 5:29 am
28 ARPcPro January 6, 2011 at 7:41 am

Is this puttycm project dead? I can’t find any version history nor an update to my 2 years old beta version.

29 MikeB January 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm

What are the requirements for the Puttycm program. I am unable to download the program from any rpt any site. I always get an error msg:
Database err:unable to connect to database:MySQL

Any help will be appreciated!!!

30 MikeB January 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Just saw the answer from kwek. It worked perfect. Thanks, kwek

31 max January 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

Hello all, I have been using putty CM for about couple of months now and it works great. But recently not sure what happen, everytime i open up a connection to a server…it pops up a old style putty window (just it was before putty CM)…so lets say if i open 5 connections, i get 5 new putty windows and do not get any tabbed putty….any idea why this is happening, i am not sure what got changed, but not working anymore. any help would be appericiated….

32 Bill January 24, 2011 at 4:40 pm

When I try to connect, I click on the connection manager entry. I see the server page for one second and then it is gone without getting connected. No error messages in log. I had it working when installed in a different windows directory but had to move it because of permission issues. I cleaned out registry. Regular putty works fine. I would really appreciate any help.

Thank you
Bill

33 SemX January 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

to Dave

I have same problem, but I found good solution.
You may disable function “minimize to tray” in options. It should be solve your problem.

34 Deepak Kumar February 11, 2011 at 2:18 am

Please enable the RESTART SESSION option which is a very useful

35 Anonymous February 22, 2011 at 12:22 am

Not able to download from http://puttycm.free.fr/download/puttycm.exe..

Is there any problem

36 Faruk March 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

Hi there,

I am using putty CM now but when I click a seeion to open, the putty opens outside the putty CM, why?

What can i do to fix it so that the seeion window opens inside the putty CM.

Thanks.

FA

37 nihilo666 March 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

@Faruk
Just re-read Feature 1 article or try to set another timing value.

38 Alok March 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Hi,

I followed the process for auto login, but on double it asks for password.

Can anyone suggest how solve this?

39 Me April 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm

To fix the minimise problem turn off the ‘Hide when minimized’ option under Tools->General

40 vishal April 14, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I am not able to download puTTy CMS from http://puttycm.free.fr/cms/ link. Can you please check or provide correct link to download the same

41 Sam May 2, 2011 at 1:28 am

thanks ramesh for the above information ,
Can u please tell us how we can change the appearance of data in putty CM,
Right now its black Background with White fonts ,
I want white Background, Black font color :)

42 gr3go May 10, 2011 at 4:37 am
43 Satty May 21, 2011 at 4:47 am

I am not able to enable login macro mode . any help on this would be appriciated

44 Vinaykumar September 28, 2011 at 3:47 am

My Putty is opening in new window even after I set timing upto 100ms-9000ms for “Tools -> Options -> Select the check-box “Enable additional timing for PuTTY capture (ms)”. I tried re-installing it but it did not work.

45 Vinaykumar September 28, 2011 at 3:57 am

I found the solution. Values were not retaining for some reason. I cleared registry and re-installed it and it solved the problem.

46 Tony November 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

http://puttycm.free.fr/download/puttycm.exe is no longer on there. please provide a link to download it else where

47 Sean S. November 28, 2011 at 12:40 am

Expanding on what Vinaykumar has said, I was able to solve the “PuTTY capture” problem by going to “Tools->Options->Plugins->Putty”, enabling the “additional capture for PuTTY capture” option, setting the value to 500 ms, hitting the tab key on my keyboard in order to leave the input box for the PuTTY capture value, then hitting the “Apply” button.

This odd procedure seems to be necessary because the “OK” button does not seem to actually save the settings you put in. Only the “Apply” button seems to actually save the settings to the registry.

48 Naren December 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

Cannot find puttycm from http://puttycm.free.fr/download/puttycm.exe
Can u post me where can i find it..

49 Ramesh Natarajan December 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

PuttyCM website seems to be down for some time now. Until that site comes backup, you can download puttycm.exe that I’ve been using.

50 Tony December 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm

@Ramesh Thank you for posting a link to the application. May or may not be the current build but at least its something and people can try it out.

Much appreciated.

51 Tony December 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm

On a side note If you use NANO editor you may find that CTRL+U (PASTE) will open a duplicate window.. to fix this go to Tools -> Options -> Hot Keys and under connections change the hot key for “Duplicate current tab” in the new shortcut text box. click in that text field and press CTRL+I or what ever you wish to set it to, then click the green check mark.

52 Naren December 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thanks a lot Ramesh.

53 gary December 6, 2011 at 7:38 am

Hi ,
I can’t download “AES encryption library (pcmcrypt.dll) ” .and search in google but no result .Anyone can send the library file or link .

Thanks in advance.

Regards
Gary

54 Prithvi December 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Kiran & Satty,
The auto login does not work in the beta version of Putty CM. There was a bug that was raised which was never fixed before the site went down.
The password of the autologin was passed as the userid instead of the userid.

55 Tony December 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

After searching the web to try to find the source code for PuttyCM in order to fix some issues with it and help the cause i found another open source app like puttycm.

It’s called mRemoteNG (http://www.mremoteng.org/) It seems pretty nice and its still in development to this day. So it’s worth a peek.

56 Kipper December 20, 2011 at 5:22 am

Hi Ramesh, the file you linked to doesn’t seem to work? When I try to open it I get an error saying its corrupted ?

Ramesh Natarajan December 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm
PuttyCM website seems to be down for some time now. Until that site comes backup, you can download puttycm.exe that I’ve been using.

57 Patulko January 4, 2012 at 4:15 am

Hi, i cannot download encrypt library. Help me pls

58 Bill January 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

Ramesh, could you pls share pcmcrypt.dll also? The link for that doesn’t work.
Thanks

59 manoj February 17, 2012 at 8:50 am

Perfect!!! awesome article!!!

60 Patulko February 27, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hello,

who is looking for pcmcrypt.dll

there is link … or send me an email
http://www.wuala.com/9bis.com/public/Forks/PuTTYCM/pcmcrypt.dll/

61 Luke March 2, 2012 at 9:22 am

For those having issues w/ it crashing or the ‘HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SimonTatham\PuTTY\Sessions’ does not exist error, go into tools -> options and uncheck the “hide when minimized” option. Leave the “Show tray icon” checked thought.

62 Tom March 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

@Parves or anyone having this problem:

An unexpected error occured :
Object reference not set an instance of an object.
Check log for further informations.
(C:\Program Files\PuTTY Connection Manager\puttycm.log)

Just UNCHECK the “Show tray icon (restart necessary)” checkbox!

63 zj March 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

I encountered slow keyboard response issue when used tabbed ssh session with puttyCM, but never had the same issue with putty itself. Any idea?

64 John Peterson April 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Where’s the source code? How do I contact the author (to ask for the source code)?

65 Alcor May 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm

HI ! When I create a new connection .. I cant use the putty sessions … I can see but cant add to the CM database … How I do ?

66 chris September 7, 2012 at 5:33 am

I have a problem with the configuration commands:

when I enter an ssh command in the command 1 bix such as “ssh server1.step3.b1q.example.com”
then when I run it the ssh command is simply ignored we tried tricking it by placing an echo at the front but it is still ignored. the only way to do it is by putting:

command box 1:ssh server1.step3.b1q.example.com
command box 2:ssh server1.step3.b1q.example.com

but you only have 5 command boxes and the fifth one is neccessary but it is being taken up by the second one. how can i only have a single command line for ssh server1.step3.b1q.example.com. in other words is there another way to trick putty CM into NOT ignoring the first SSH?

67 israel September 12, 2012 at 10:12 am

how add command in login macro, is possible? and how can login for de other server with ssh?

thanks

68 Muzza September 21, 2012 at 4:04 am

With regards to the “PuTTY capture” problem. I had it appear because I didn’t use the default putty session with the following field not empty – Window -> Behaviour -> Window Title. Clearing it fixed my issue, Not sure if it helps anyone else but thought I’d post it anyway.

69 Tim Lloyd October 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hi, I am using this application on Windows 7. If the puttycm window is open and I click on “show desktop”, the puttycm window disappears and there is no icon at the bottom of the screen. When I try to run the application again, windows informs me that the application is already running. I have to kill it using task manager.

I can alt-tab between puttycm and other programs with no difficulties. It is just doesn’t like the desktop.

Thanks

70 José EA October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

SuperPutty seems a very nice replace form PuttyCM.

71 Celal November 22, 2012 at 4:05 am

Hi,
how can I start PuttyCM in many instances?
I have 2 physical displays. On the left display, I will monitor test environment with
4 servers (see: Fig: Multiple PuTTY Sessions docked appropriately). On the right
display shall 4 servers from production environment be monitored.
When I start PuttyCM twice, the message “application already started” appears.
I even tried
“AllowMultipleInstances”=dword:00000001
in the registry but no effect.

any ideas.

Thanks,
Celal

72 Marc December 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Anyone know why I can’t paste multilines of confing into CM and have them input……………….they just paste all on one line

73 Maran March 26, 2013 at 7:31 am

3/26/2013 9:27:43 AM:RUNTIME ERROR
3/26/2013 9:27:43 AM: Main error : Unable to attach PuTTY process
3/26/2013 9:27:43 AM: Internal error : Process has exited, so the requested
I am trying to connect to a server and I am getting below error.. any thoughts on this

information is not available.
3/26/2013 9:27:43 AM: StackTrace :
3/26/2013 9:27:43 AM: at System.Diagnostics.Process.EnsureState(State state)
at System.Diagnostics.Process.get_MainWindowHandle()
at x48b98d898b67428b.x1521d5c1a2ad9cb1.x1248f643d518e66f(x6f302b004bee2deb x69e8923140f2b0a6, xb6e5bd3523128419 xd617aefdd9defbf0)

74 Winnie March 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

Hi Ramesh,
After I download Putty CM and tried to connect a server, but it does not prompt me login. I did not set up database, just connected a server. Please advise. Thank you.

75 Ankur April 17, 2013 at 9:23 am

Nice- thanks for sharing.

I wasn’t able to take my existing Putty sessions and “Add to database” – has anyone tried that?

76 Amit May 16, 2013 at 11:26 am

How to add delay for logins on Telnet and SSH sessions. When I try telnet or ssh into my linux hosts or switches (based on linux) with Terminals, I believe it sends the login information before the host is ready, and it will not log me in (have to do it manually).

77 Ryan August 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Can’t connect to anything. The tabbed windows just stay grey.

78 Ryan August 7, 2013 at 12:40 am

When I right click on a connection, and try “Add to database”, nothing happens. ?

79 Paul August 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Hi Ramesh,

I am new to putty software, I will download and see if I can access.

Thanks

80 Andrew October 23, 2013 at 10:27 am

Have the same problem as Ryan after PC upgrade from Win XP to Win7 64 bit
All my previously used connections open new tab , but display only grey square instead that in status line is written “Connection ‘Hostname’ opened. Netstat say that connetion is really established, so seems it is an connection manager display issue.

81 Okin January 30, 2014 at 12:43 am

Hey,

I want to make an plugin for puttyCM my self. Is the sourcecode available somewere? I cannot find a website discribing how to add a pluggin to puttyCM.

BR Nikolas

82 jac April 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

Very useful, when it works… but it’s EXTREMELY BUGGY piece of software…. VERY bad coded, errors, hangups, disapear on minimize, lose focus, refuses to open sessions, and LOTS more of bugs… NOT recomended, this soft have not been updated in at least 6 years, so it’s abandoned…

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