Transferring files to and from other computers, particularly web servers, is usually achieved through a system called FTP (File Transfer Protocol). At the most basic, an application needs to connect to a remote server and allow you to perform file operations – copying, moving, editing and deleting – with both remote and local files. There are a huge range of different FTP applications for the Mac, many which aren’t that well known.
This roundup will showcase both the well-polished commercial FTP apps, as well as a number of open source alternatives which have very similar levels of functionality.
Transmit is probably the best known FTP client for the Mac, with good reason – it packs a great deal of functionality and is notoriously well designed. Recent updates add Amazon S3 support and easy remote file previewing. Not the cheapest offering, but definitely good value for money.
Requires: Requires Mac OS X 10.3.9+
A fairly advanced client, reflected by the big price tag. It supports a range of SSH functionality, mirroring, Dashboard and Automator integration, and downloading of entire websites. Great for power users, over-kill for the regular web user.
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later. Mac OS X 10.5 is recommended.
Probably the most full-featured open source client available, Cyberduck packs a decent punch. It supports transferring to anything – including Mosso and Amazon S3 servers. It also offers Quick Look functionality, synchronization and Growl integration.
Price: Free (Open Source)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: David V. Kocher
Support for FTP, SFTP, and FTP with TLS/SSL. It offers a fairly basic feature set, with a few new Leopard-centric features in the latest release. Not a bad deal at $25, but it’s probably worth shelling out an extra $5 for Transmit if you’re looking for a commercial app.
Requires: Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later
Developer: Fetch Softworks
Yummy FTP has a few notable features including auto-recovery of failed transfers, filtering of upload synchronization, robust scheduling and FTP alias support for integration with the Finder. Fairly unique, and not badly priced.
Requires: OS X 10.3.9 or later
Developer: Yummy Software
A fairly basic open source app, FileZilla lacks some of the impressive OS X integration of other apps but is a solid basic solution. It’s cross-platform, so could be good for staying consistent if you regularly swap to Windows or Linux.
Price: Free (Open Source)
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
Despite the awful name, this is a fairly well featured app. It’s fast for downloading large files, also supports Aliases, and provides a backup solution when used to schedule and synchronize uploads. It might be a touch expensive for what’s on offer.
Requires: OS X version 10.4 & higher
Developer: Captain FTP
Traditionally a download manager (as the name implies), it has recently added FTP support. It’s great if you need a simple FTP client but would also like a tool to manage and organize the download of files. A good combination!
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
A decent interface makes Forklift an attractive app to use, and it covers a similar feature set to previous tools. At $44.95, it’s arguably overpriced unless you’re able to get a student license. You may prefer the interface to other applications.
Price: $44.95 ($24.95 Student)
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Binary Nights
I hope that I’ve managed to showcase a few applications you may not have been aware of previously, along with drawing your attention to tools such as CyberDuck which replicate commercial functionality for free. If you regularly transfer files to and from the web, using an FTP app which meets you needs is important – it’s worth experimenting with the free trials on offer to find one which works for you.
As ever, do let me know if I’ve missed an app which you use!