Overview of the best FTP client Mac solutions

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) are the two most widely used protocols for transferring files between a local device and a remote server. They are often used by web developers to make changes to their servers, and that is why so many FTP client Mac solutions are available. However, the Mac itself also has a fairly powerful built-in tool that allows users to use FTP and SFTP to communicate with remote servers. You don’t need to download any additional software or Mac FTP applications to connect to FTP sites from Mac, instead, you can connect to remote servers directly from your desktop using an excellent and little-known feature of your computer. If you have never used Mac tools for FTP before, you will find them incredibly simple and pretty familiar, as the connection and server browsing utilities are a lot like navigating a regular Mac desktop. However, let’s start from the very beginning.

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What does FTP abbreviation stand for?

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol and while using FTP Mac clients can connect to the server and download files of various formats. To do this, the user needs to know the FTP server address, as well as the data for authorization (login and password). Although, the FTP server can provide anonymous access, i.e. provide access to everyone who connects to the server.

The protocol is built on a client-server architecture and uses different network connections to transfer commands and data between the client and the server. You can use the SSH protocol for secure transmission, hiding (encrypting) your username and password, as well as encrypting the contents.


Brief history of FTP for Mac users

The FTP protocol appeared in 1971, even before the appearance of such protocols as HTTP and even TCP / IP. Initially, it was used for messaging, with a specific header, between the server and the client. Since that time, it has changed almost beyond recognition - a lot of new commands have been introduced, a separate connection has been allocated to transmit information.

The first client applications using FTP ports were interactive command-line devices that implement syntax and standard commands. Graphical user interfaces have since been developed for the many operating systems that are in use today. Nowadays, its use is actively distributed for the transfer of various software, as well as gaining access to remote resources.


How to connect to a remote server without using FTP client for Mac

As we already know, it is not necessary to install any special FTP for Mac utility on the Mac computer to be able to connect to the remote server. The Mac has a built-in client that is very easy to use.

  1. To open it, click the Go menu section in the Finder panel. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, you will see the line “Connect to the server”.
  2. After that, you can enter the connection address via ftp: // or the IP address at which you want to connect to the server. In order not to constantly enter this address, click the plus sign “+” to the right of the input line and the server name will be added to the favorites list.
  3. Click the "Connect" button below, after which you will need to enter login information.
  4. Enter in the Name field your login on the server and the password that the host administrator gave you.
  5. If the FTP server supports anonymous users, then you can check the item “As a guest” - then you will not have to enter any data.
  6. In order not to type the username and password each time, you can check the box “Remember this password in the keychain”.
  7. Click “Connect”, and then you will be taken to the server file system.

If you want to connect to a secure FTPS server, all you need to do is add the domain prefix to ftps: // instead of ftp: //. This depends on whether the remote server supports SSL and whether FTPS connections are accepted, which is what most servers do. Also, keep in mind that FTPS and SFTP are two different protocols; FTPS is FTP with a secure SSL level, while SFTP uses SSH. FTPS connections are supported directly in the built-in FTP OS X function, while SFTP via SSH is not available through the same “Connect to the server” menu. However, OS X also includes its own SFTP client Mac users can access from the Terminal by typing “sftp username @ host” at the command line.


Navigation and file transfer with FTP and FTPS

After connecting to the FTP server, you can view the remote server, like any other local folder on your Mac, because the server is processed in the same way as a regular file system window in Finder. Copying files to a remote server or downloading them to a Mac is easy with simple and familiar drag and drop. Go to the file or folder that you want to copy, then simply drag it as if you were copying or moving any other file, and the items will be transferred from the FTP server to the Mac computer or vice versa.

By default, the window will be displayed as a minimized Finder window, but you can expand the window to your usual Mac OS X Finder style by pulling the View menu down and selecting Show Toolbar. The main advantage of expanding the window is that you get navigation buttons with forward and backward arrows, as well as sorting options for viewing the FTP server by icon, name, date, lists and search functions.


Why using third-party FTP client Mac solutions

FTP features on Mac OS X have been known since the very first days of OS X. Although these features are incredibly useful, they are obviously not as advanced as in any third-party Mac FTP client, but if you are in a difficult situation and you just need quickly to be able to connect to remote FTP to transfer some files back or forward, it is more than enough and what is more it does not require downloading anything extra. Since the Finder FTP function does not support some functions that users may wish to have on their Mac, there are many third-party Mac FTP client applications that can perform this work instead, with full support for FTP, SFTP, FTPS, downloads, uploads, queues, the ability to change permissions, read/write support and so on and so forth. If you need more advanced features here is a list of a few free FTP Mac applications as well as paid ones. But first, let’s try to figure out what does an app should have to be called the best FTP client for Mac?


What criteria to consider when choosing a good FTP client for Mac

As to general characteristics, you should pay attention to:

  • stability;
  • the convenience of use;
  • design;
  • simplicity and speed of installation.

As to functional characteristics, you should pay attention to:

  • ability to change/rename files directly on the server;
  • ability to quickly limit traffic;
  • the ability to pause file transfer and resume;
  • ability to download many files (parallel download or queuing);
  • ability to synchronize folders.

The rest features of the apps are rather individual and are needed by a relatively smaller number of users. We cannot say that nobody needs them, just not everyone needs them.


List of the best FTP client Mac software

Commander One

Commander One

Commander One is a very convenient file navigator and client for working with protocols such as FTP/SFTP/FTPS and WebDAV, as well as cloud services. After connecting to the FTP server, you can perform the same file operations like copying, deleting, moving, editing of the content there as with the one on the local disk. Besides that, great additions to the file manager are the archiver and task manager. in addition, the dual-pane interface of this Mac FTP client makes the work with the files as easy as pie.

Pros:

  • support for tabs;
  • ability to quickly enable and disable hidden files;
  • huge hotkey support;
  • Terminal emulator;
  • quick view of text files and images.

Cons:

  • lack of multi-rename feature;
  • lack of compare directories feature;
  • lack of synchronize directories feature.

Cyberduck

Cyberduck

The free FTP Mac client Cyberduck freely interacts with Windows and macOS platforms and is characterized by the support for FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, Cloud Files, Google Drive, Google Storage, Amazon S3 protocols. Many Mac communities have recognized it as one of the best FTP clients available for Mac. Cyberduck is also available as a dashboard widget and comes with one of the most consistent interfaces, making it very easy to view and transfer files.

Pros:

  • minimalistic interface;
  • several ways to connect to the same server;
  • support for various filename encodings;
  • automatic launch of the client when connected to the server;
  • view the history of all servers that are connected.

Cons:

  • work in single-panel mode, as well as poor adjustment for the user.

FireFTP

FireFTP

FireFTP is another cross-platform FTP client, this time available as an extension to the popular Mozilla Firefox browser. Just download the free extension, restart Firefox, and then enjoy FTP access directly from your Internet browser. Despite being a lightweight browser extension, it does not lag behind the features and performance of desktop Mac FTP clients.

Pros:

  • support for FTP, SSL, TLS, and SFTP;
  • directory synchronization and comparison;
  • work with the server directly from the browser menu;
  • simple file transfer between PC and server;
  • ease of connection to the server.

Cons:

  • sometimes connections seem to be deleted.

CrossFTP

CrossFTP

CrossFTP, developed by CrossFTP Software, is designed to implement features such as Amazon S3, FTP Client, and FTPS. The free version of CrossFTP works with archives, encryption, bookmarks, can perform group operations and has a good search for files. This is an excellent FTP client for Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems.

Pros:

  • supports many encodings;
  • multithreaded file transfer;
  • download speed control;
  • manage multiple connections.

Cons:

  • downloads are not always paused;
  • program is installed through the Java installer.

FileZilla

FileZilla

The name FileZilla probably needs no introduction. Compatible with all major platforms - Windows, Mac, and Linux - this fully open-source software is one of the most popular FTP clients of all. Launched in 2001, this FTP client for Mac has held this position for most of 18 years and it is a pretty big achievement. Besides that, you can download it without spending a dime.

Pros:

  • support for FTP, FTP over SSL / TLS (FTPS) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP);
  • drag-and-drop;
  • site manager with a transfer queue;
  • file name filters, synchronized directory browsing, and remote file search/editing.

Cons:

  • perhaps there may be a large number of various settings, functions, and options. Although, an experienced user considers this a positive factor.

ForkLift

Forklift

ForkLift is another premium FTP client available only for Mac users. This one is highly regarded for its speed and these other features. This FTP Mac client can be characterized by fairly quick file encryption, high-quality zip archiving, good synchronization with external services and much more.

Pros:

  • support for the most popular protocols, including cloud servers;
  • ability to view files on the server without downloading;
  • file sync and search;
  • ability to work and save multiple connections at once;
  • batch rename of the files;
  • ability to connect your favorite editor to the FTP client.

Cons:

  • sync feature will not keep the settings you have last used, so every time, you have to set them up again.

Transmit

Transmit

Transmit is another number one FTP client Mac users give preference to. The latest version, Transmit 5 promises up to 25x speed and it can make the app the fastest FTP client of all. In addition to pure speed, Transmit can also be trusted for reliable file transfers, and it comes with many other interesting features.

Pros:

  • stylish, intuitive user interface;
  • multiple-connected transmissions make it easy and simple to bulk transfer;
  • full support for FTP, SFTP, and Amazon S3 Cloud Transfer and 11 more clouds;
  • advanced server settings.

Cons:

  • the price.

However, with all these features it can worth your while.

Viper FTP

Viper FTP

Viper FTP is a convenient and powerful file manager for macOS with a huge user interface that makes it effortless to use. Viper FTP helps with local and remote file management (FTP, FTPS, SFTP, WebDav, Amazon S3, Google Drive and YouTube - download). This Mac FTP solution has many unique features you can't find in other applications.

Pros:

  • local file encryption / decryption;
  • local and remote images, videos, music and documents preview;
  • each transfer of files that you start has its own trace log;
  • scan any working FTP servers on your LAN using Bonjour.

Cons:

  • sometimes the transfer of files is a bit slow;
  • the app can crash when trying to establish a new connection.

Flow

Flow

The advantage of this FTP client for Mac is considered to be its multi-tab interface. Flow allows you to work with multiple servers at once. By the way, the program supports five protocols for connecting to remote servers - FTP, SFTP, MobileMe iDisk, Amazon S3, and WebDAV. Rather intuitive and with a good set of features it is a cup of tea for a lot of users.

Pros:

  • creation of droplets;
  • support for Growl and QuickView;
  • instant search on a server;
  • text editor with code and line numbering highlighting function.

Cons:

  • the interface still needs refinement;
  • the folder synchronization function and support for some old encodings will be a great plus.

FTP for Mac: Frequently Asked Questions

FTP server is a server that provides the ability to use the FTP file transfer protocol. A vivid example of an FTP server can be a server hosting, it is where all the site files are located.
FTP client is a program that allows you to connect to a remote server via FTP and also perform the necessary actions on it with elements of the file system.
Typically, FTP servers are used to:
  • data exchange between any group of people (confidential documents, photographs, etc.);
  • convenience of working with corporate resources (uploading files to the hosting).
By default, a connection is established through port 21 unless another port is set.
The site FTP address is the hostname or IP address of the server. It can be found out from the provider or from the owner of the resource to which you are connecting to.
To work with the protocol standard UNIX-commands are used. A complete list of them can be found by typing in the special line "help" or "?". The most commonly used commands are:
  • open - establishes a connection with an FTP site. It is used when accessing different servers during one session. Requires preliminary closing of the previous FTP site with the close command;
  • user - used to re-enter the user name and password for authentication. The function is necessary in cases where the remote machine allows users with certain parameters;
  • bye or quit - used in parallel with close, closes all communications and terminates program execution;
  • remotehelp - opens help information for commands supported by the remote FTP server.
If HTTP was originally provided by the creators for the transfer of hypertext and small text files, then FTP serves to transport almost any file.

Commander One

This dual panel file manager for Mac is fully compatible with MacOS 10.10 and later. Requires 37.64MB free space, latest version 2.4(3129) Released 19th Nov, 2019

4.5 rank based on 90+ users, Reviews (15)
Editor's Choice
Eltima Software / Commander One / Overview of the best FTP client Mac solutions