You can tell how well an operating system is doing by the quality, capability, and quantity of applications developed for the platform.
Take File Transfer Protocol; FTP applications. It used to be ruled by Fetch on the Mac. Now FTP is ruled by a dozen Mac FTP applications. Here’s my Top 10 FTP List.
There’s pretty much a single method to transfer files from a Mac (or Windows PC, or Linux) to a remote server. FTP. File Transfer Protocol. It’s been around for many years, first as a command line tool to send and retrieve files.
Wikipedia defines FTP this way:
“FTP or file transfer protocol is a protocol used for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP works in the same way as HTTP for transferring Web pages from a server to a user’s browser, and SMTP for transferring electronic mail across the Internet in that FTP uses the Internet’s TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer.”
“FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a Web page file to a server).”
Without getting too complex and detailed in a review of the Top 10 FTP apps, FTP applications on the Mac tend to disguise all the hard work going on behind the scenes while servers are being connected to, and files are being transferred (up to a server, or down to your Mac).
For the Mac, there are many FTP applications available for OS X. Many. Even Mac OS X Tiger (and Panther) has FTP built in at the command line (and the Finder, though I’ll leave that ugly operation for others to slice and dice).
The feature set of the Top 10 FTP apps for the Mac vary considerably, though most handle FTP file transfers with few problems, many do Secure FTP as well, and most have a ‘resume’ transfer feature in case a connection is lost.
The Top 10 File Transfer Utilities
High on the list of requirements is stability, dependability, and ease-of-use, as there can be many options to sending and retrieving files. Here’s the list, in reverse order:
This dubious honor goes to YummyFTP. Not because it’s so great. Bambi says it’s better than half those on my list. I just haven’t had time to try it out yet. $25 for two users.
#10 – Simple FTP
You get what you pay for, and SimpleFTP at $15 is a pleasant FTP application with, well, simple features.
If you’re concerned about the complexity of File Transfer Protocol, SimpleFTP is a good choice as it “modeled on the RFC 959 File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Internet standard, that emphasizes simplicity and ease of use.”
SimpleFTP is multi-threaded, has file resume, bookmarks for different servers, and drag and drop. Even SFTP is supported.
#9 – Secure FTP
Security is all the rage these days, and $25 gets you the ultra secure SecureFTP from Glub Tech. Use it for personal use (non-commercial) and it’s free.
The claim to fame here is that Secure FTP allows for 128-bit encrypted secure connections to servers that support FTP over SSL (FTPS).
Also unique is the ability to use the application as a GUI with point and click, or from the command line interface, which means you can script Secure FTP to do work while you’re away (not for the faint of heart).
#8 – RBrowser
One of the first secure FTP clients for Mac OS X a few years ago was RBrowser. If you like the palette metaphor, you’ll love RBrowser as it seems there’s a window for everything.
RBrowser isn’t just an FTP or Secure FTP application for the Mac. It also synchronizes folders on your Mac, and from your Mac to a remote server.
Drag and drop is the order of the day, though RBrowser does a good job of remote editing (not available on all FTP applications) and detecting and negotiating different FTP protocols.
The list of features on RBrowser is extensive and growing, with regular updates. A single user license is $35.
One thing you may note is that more money usually begets more features, more frequent application updates, faster service.
#7 – MacSFTP
Also an early entry to FTP on Mac OS X is MacSFTP. This application hasn’t been updated in awhile but always worked well for me.
It’s one of the few Mac FTP applications that still works fine on Mac Classic OS, though the feature set is limited, security works well on OS X and Mac Classic.
#6 – Interarchy
Both feature rich and attractive, Interarchy has a long history on the Mac and a loyal following.
Again, if you love multiple palettes/windows scattered all over the place, then Interarchy is for you.
The feature list is huge for Interarchy which is both Carbon and Cocoa. One notable feature is speed. Interarchy is fast at downloading files.
The interface is also familiar to Mac users with icon view, list view, and column view.
That’s half the Top 10 FTP Applications for the Mac. Click Here for the Top 5.
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#5 – Fetch
$25 gets you the latest version of one of the oldest Mac FTP applications ever—Fetch. FTP, SFTP, edit, resume transfer, and automatic file format support are available on Fetch.
Unique to Fetch is the ability to publish images for eBay auction listings. Why? Because they can.
Fetch can find servers via Apple’s Bonjour technology (Zero Config) and is Apple Scriptable. If you like dogs, you’ll love the Fetch mascot icon.
More important, though, is Fetch’s ability to upload and download files. It works and has for many years. The interface is a bit complex, but doesn’t require much effort to master.
You can also use AppleScript recording to automate certain repetitive tasks; a handy feature.
#4 – CuteFTP
If you don’t mind spending money for support to go along with a lot of features, then CuteFTP could be attractive.
Cute does SSL and SFTP, synchronizes folders on a local Mac, has bookmarks, edits remote files, and carries the standard list of goodies.
I’ve used Cute on both Mac and Windows without trouble, though I’m concerned that the Mac version hasn’t been update in awhile.
#3 – CyberDuck
You gotta love an application with a name like CyberDuck.
One of the few Open Source FTP applications for the Mac, CyberDuck handls FTP, SFTP (via SSH) and is licensed under the GPL (it’s free).
The interface is straightforward Mac, though it uses those painful window panes that newer apps are dropping.
CyberDuck is OS X through and through and integrates or supports Spotlight, Bonjour, the OS X Keychain, and AppleScript.
All the basics for secure file transfers are there as well as a gazillion and three localizations; from English and Czech to Chinese and Japanese and a bunch in between.
I’ve found CyberDuck to be friendly, secure, and stable. What more could you want from free?
#2 – Captain FTP
At #2 with a bullet this week is Captain FTP, the Mac FTP application that doesn’t quit, and gets better every few months.
Captain FTP bills itself as the first cooperative FTP client. What’s very cool about this is the ability for Captain FTP to allow FTP users to share files directly between each other, Mac to Mac, and not just from Mac to a distant remote nameless headless server.
The folks at Captain FTP ask a simple question: “As FTP is considered to be the most effective way to distribute files over the Internet, why not take it further and allow users to connect each other?”
They give you an answer and a solution that isn’t really peer-to-peer file sharing, but does essentially the same thing; you can share files with other Mac users.
The trick to accomplish this is in the Public Address Book which segregates users, though everyone needs to be using Mac OS X.
Click Here for the extensive list of features on Captain FTP.
If I were not so in love with #1, this would be the best FTP application around. It’s only $25. $34 with 12 months of some kind of protection (I’m afraid to track that down).
#1 – Transmit
Some Mac applications just get better with age, set the standard for others, and seem to ‘get it’ when it comes to the Mac interface.
Panic’s Transmit is one such Mac application. For me, it’s been a favorite for years and it’s what I use to judge other FTP applications.
Transmit is loaded with features; handles Automator Actions, Spotlight favorites, zoom previews, springloaded folders, column view (myfavorite), sidebars (not my favorites), syncs with .Mac, synchronizes folders, shows status in the Dock icon, drag and drop, text file editing, batch downloading, and even Server-to-Server transfers letting your Mac act as middle-man shuttle.
The list of features goes on and on. However, more important is security, stability, dependability. Transmit excels at each. $30 gets you the premier FTP/SFTP application on the Mac.
Not only is Transmit easy for newbies, there’s plenty of features for experienced Mac users. There’s even a Transmit Widget.
Alex, you blew it with Yummy FTP. That should be in the Top 5, not honorable mention. Get with it and at least try it.
Carol Mary Miller
I can’t argue with Transmit at #1, though there’s a few in the bottom five of the Top 10 that I don’t like, such as MacSFTP. Bambi’s right about YummyFTP.
Captain FTP is an excellent Mac application and the near peer-to-peer FTP function is icing on the cake. Good choice.
How many FTP applications do we need? Are there even 10 word processors for Mac OS X? Are there even 10 email applications? How about spreadsheets? You’d think there’d be more of those day-to-day applications than FTP apps.
My favorite is still Transmit. Captain FTP has some cool features, and Yummy should be higher on the list.