FTP clients for Mac

I use an FTP client to transfer my web files to my web server. And I hardly have to do even that. That said, the in-built interface of web hosting companies can leave a lot to be desired…

So I use an FTP client. I didn’t search very hard, and found something that works well for me. It’s SmartFTP and you can check it out.

But I’m a Windows user. What if you’re a Mac user? (I understand a certain percentage of people read my blog on Mac machines. Ok, I’m basing it on users on Safari and iPad/iPhone, but still, it’s a relatively good assumption…).

So here are 5 Mac FTP clients. Disclaimer: this is an article from Rackspace. I’m not paid.

FTP For Free: Top 5 Mac FTP Clients You Won’t Pay For

Every organization seems to have its head in the cloud. The off-site, third-party solution for hosting, sharing files and archiving data is fast becoming the de facto tool method for individuals and organizations seeking to collaborate and share files.

But the truth is “the cloud” is simply a newer, more sophisticated version of a seasoned technology that’s been in place for years. Individuals and organizations have been using off-site and third-party resources and technology like File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers and clients to store and share data for decades. The Cloud and cloud storage continue to make headlines, but FTP is still widely used behind the scenes as an easy way to transfer, share and synchronize large files.

One of the reasons FTP use has declined is its inherent lack of security. According to technology blogger Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, FTP is an anachronistic protocol and should be abandoned in favor of more secure technologies.

But for quickly and easily transferring large files like data sets and high-resolution photos and video, FTP can’t be beat. Additionally, many FTP solutions are available for free; here are five of our favorite FTP clients for Mac.


By far the most popular free FTP client, and not just for Mac users. FileZilla is an open-source FTP client that supports Mac, Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux, according to the FileZilla Project. One drawback: while the FileZilla client is platform-independent, the FTP Server is Microsoft Windows-specific.

Ed: I’m a .NET programmer. This isn’t that bad a drawback… But I’m not a Microsoft fan either. Be fanatic about what you can do with the platform, not the platform itself.

Support is plentiful for FileZilla, and available through the FileZilla website as well as an associated wiki, user and developer forums, bug fix requests and tracker reports.

Fetch Softworks

This is the original FTP client for the Mac, dating back to 1989. Fetch supports both FTP and SFTP, as well as FTP with TLS/SSL (FTPS), according to the Fetch website. One of Fetch’s greatest strengths is its ease of use; as with most things Macintosh, synchronizing and transferring files is as easy as drag-and-drop, and Fetch includes intuitive features like automatically resuming downloads of stalled or failed transfers. Fetch is compatible with nearly all FTP servers.

The Fetch website includes links to support resources, user forums, FAQs and message boards for users. The catch? Fetch is only free for a fifteen-day trial period, after which you must purchase the software.

Ed: I kinda like this one. What’s my reason? There’s a dog. Ok fine, the software looks competent. Most (if not all) purchases are based on emotions. On first impressions, I feel Fetch is better than the other 4 simply because I can imagine feeling comfortable using it. Understand that “free” is also a price. (I have nothing against free open-source projects)


CNET.com editors call Cyberduck a “lean, mean, file managing machine,” and with good reason. The free, open-source software can interface with standard FTP servers as well as cloud-based solutions like Google Docs and Rackspace Cloud Files. Cyberduck, while an entry level (read: easy-to-use with limited functionality) client, nonetheless handles basic transfers, synchronization and interoperability quickly and easily.

If you’re looking for an agnostic, simple FTP client without a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles, give Cyberduck a try.


RBrowser is a UNIX-based, free, full-featured FTP and SFTP client designed with a simple graphic interface. RBrowser is more advanced than other SFTP clients; it combines all the secure tools available on both users’ local and remote systems, as well as maintaining a continuous secure connection to create links, according to the RBrowser website. With RBrowser, users are empowered to move and edit files quickly, and can make changes to files using direct remote-to-remote operations.

For more skilled users and UNIX-savvy administrators, RBrowser is the way to go.

Built-in Mac OS X FTP

While it’s not as full-featured as stand-alone FTP clients, Apple’s built-in FTP client works great if you’re looking for a simple way to transfer files quickly. It can be accessed directly from your Mac OS X desktop. The OS X Daily website offers step-by-step instructions with detailed screenshots. Once connected, you can browse files as though you’re looking at any local folder on your desktop, and transferring files is drag-and-drop.

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Viruses on Windows, Macs and Unix

The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.
– Albert Einstein

Einstein may not have said that, but compounding is really powerful. I’ll get to the point in a bit, so just read on…

There’s this story I read about a rich man employing a young lady to count his fortune. She took 6 days to complete the task, and the result was that the man was 42 million dollars rich. The man then asked her how she wanted to be paid.

[For the purposes of the story, 100 pennies equal a dollar.]

The young woman asked to be paid 2 pennies for her 1st day. Then pay her the amount paid the previous day, multiplied by itself, for the next day. So her 2nd day costs 2 * 2 = 4 pennies. Her 3rd day costs 4 * 4 = 16 pennies. And so on till her 6th day.

The rich man thought, “Such a foolish girl!”, and promptly agreed.

So for her 4th day, she had 16 * 16 = 256 pennies. Her 5th day costs 256 * 256 = 65536 pennies. And her 6th day? 65536 * 65536 = 4294967296 pennies.

Wait a minute! 4294967296 pennies is just over 42 million dollars! And so the young woman took all of the rich man’s money. The end.

The point is, small things can add up (or in the clever woman’s case, multiply up). What’s that got to do with computer viruses? What is the primary ability a computer virus needs? To spread to as many computers as possible.

[For the purposes of the following discussion, “computer virus” encompasses all the bad things coded by a human being that could happen on a computer. That should cover viruses, worms, hacks and so on…]

This is why I find people’s reactions to the “susceptibility” of Windows machines towards computer viruses, … confusing. They might say that Macs don’t have this problem, or Unix machines have that security clamped down. There will be rabid fans supporting their favourite operating system.

The thing is, I’m sure there are computer viruses on Macs and Unix. Why is there a lack of mass destruction and mayhem on those platforms? My answer might be deflating for those supporters.

There simply aren’t that many people using those platforms.

As far as I know, Windows is used by most people on a computer. The path of least resistance for a virus writer is to target Windows. And he won! For a while at least… then another outbreak, then fixed and so on.

Each “win” sort of amplifies the “susceptibility” of Windows. Virus writers get a little bolder, a little more creative. People get scared, news stories (in the early days) sort of “glorifies” the damage done, and the difference in platforms got a little wider (even if it’s just people’s perceptions).

Bit by bit, Windows come under fire for things such as the blue screen of death, the ease with which an attacker disrupts, and poor security models. I believe it’s just a scaling factor. Web browsers are now targeted, and that means the operating system doesn’t matter as much anymore.

This is why I find it amusing whenever I encounter what’s known as an Apple fanboy. The praises showered on Apple products for their beauty and elegance. Granted, that’s true. It’s when they also show their disdain for Windows that’s amusing. Why such a strong emotion?

I admit right now. I don’t really have overwhelming love for Windows. Hey I’ve got an iPhone! I just find it useful for me. I like using .NET because it allows me to do what I want quickly and easily (I have a friend who “eewws” at the mention of .NET …).

And I’ve only been seriously wounded by computer viruses a couple of times in my entire life of using computers (probably protected by my positive aura). So I’m offering another reason, and drawing a broad generalisation in the process… Mac and Unix users are generally fairly competent with computers. They are designers, so using image editors is second nature to them. They are system administrators, and let’s face it, if you can do command line stuff, you’re competent.

It’s the not-so-competent users that get hit by computer viruses. Broadly speaking of course, and I don’t know if it’s true, so this is just my conjecture. Where are most of those users? On Windows machines.

So based on small reasons, a twist of fate here and there, and compounding all that, and Windows seem to be riddled with security loopholes, wide open for any attack. But I don’t see it that way.