How to connect to a serial device on a Mac

My mobile device of choice at work is a 13″ MacBook Air. It’s a great system that is extremely lightweight (see: portable). Unfortunately, I need the ability to console into switches to make configuration changes and this computer does not have a serial port. Thankfully, I have a USB to Serial Adapter that I keep in my “go bag.” It doesn’t work out-of-the-box in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, but it isn’t too difficult to configure.

I followed a few articles I found online (primarily, this one:

  • Plug in the USB to Serial Adapter.
  • Click Apple menu > About This Mac > More Info … > System Report …
  • Click on Hardware > USB > verify you see USB-Serial Controller D on the right.
  • Download the driver here: (I downloaded the PL2303 MacOSX10.6 dmg file).
  • Install the driver, then reboot the computer.
  • Click on System Preferences > Network > “+” > Interface. If it was installed properly, you will see something like “USB-Serial Controller D.”
  • Click cancel.

Now that the device and driver are installed properly, you can download a terminal emulator like ZTerm to make a connection to the serial device.


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