A few months ago, I wrote about my search for the perfect FTP client — and how I didn’t think it existed yet on OS X. I still don’t. But I’ve recently purchased Transmit from the fine folks at Panic Software and have been giving it a spin.

Transmit iconIt’s fast, responsive and has some nice configurable toolbar options (shortcuts, previewing files, etc.). I still think that the one feature it’s missing (and I’ve emailed a feature request to the company) is a “column view” for navigating server directories, much like that found in the OS X Finder. It’s become such a natural way to view hierarchy for me, and with that feature, Panic would be the best FTP client in the history of FTP clients. For now, it seems to be the best FTP client in the history of FTP clients currently available for OS X.

My main complaint with RBrowser, which I had been using exclusively for a long time, was it’s sluggishness — and inability to transfer large, deep directories without freezing. Transmit wins on the performance meter — hands down.

Also, the icon. It’s one of the better OS X icons I’ve seen. Why? It’s fat and chunky (easy to click) and looks cool when it’s bouncing up and down (if you like that sort of thing happening in your Dock).


  1. Cameron Moll says:

    I’ve been using Transmit for about a year now. Very pleased. But you’re right — the lack of a column view is its biggest flaw. That said, it’s one of the only flaws I’ve found so far.

  2. Jean-Michel says:

    I use Transmit too. But don’t you think the FTP functionality should be built in in the Finder? (it is, but it doesn’t allow file upload, the server volume always appear locked).

  3. Jason G says:

    I have been using Fugu for FTP, it is a front-end for sFTP. It has a pretty stock FTP interface, but it works well enough. I tried Transmit for a while but I was having issues with it dropping connections on me and a few other strange things.

  4. Jon Hicks says:

    I’m a Transmit fan too, especially that icons. Panic know how to make good mac software no doubt!

  5. ramanan says:

    Transmit is by far the best FTP client on the mac. I think you’ll enjoy using it. Panic make some pretty solid Mac applications.

  6. Aaron says:

    I just bought Transmit, after reading that great article on Audion, and couldn’t be more satisfied. Since I only really use a couple of nearby directories on the server, the lack of column view isn’t a big deal. What sold me was the ability to have Transmit log onto the server immediately upon startup, without any login screen. Just one click and I’m ready to drag files.

  7. Joe Stump says:

    I think a better question would be, why are you still using FTP? Here are a few reasons *NOT* to use it:
    1.) FTP sends passwords and files unencrypted.
    2.) Many security holes are opened up through FTP (users executing arbitrary code, etc.)
    You should look into using scp, which is SSH’s version of the cp command and copies files with 1024 bit encryption (tunneled through SSH). If you set up your authorized_keys file you can scp files over without the need for a password.
    Running FTP on your servers is scary.

  8. Jeff Croft says:

    I’ve been using Transmit since it first came out, way back in my OS 9 days (when it was called “Transit”). I agree that it’s not perfect, but it’s probably the best thing available, and I’ll support those boys at Panic in nearly anything they do…they are truly the cream of the crop when it comes to Mac free/shareware.

  9. mathew says:

    dang, i’m all over transmit. i’ve been using it for just over a year and love it. the icon is excellent. have you found the secret easter egg in the app yet!? ohbaby, it’s cool.
    i agree with the column view thing.
    another problem i’ve had before is if i’m working on a doc and editing it in my text editor via the built-in “edit this doc in your fave editor” feature and your connection is disrupted while the doc’s still open, if you save it (by mistake since you didn’t know the connection was pooched), sometimes you loose EVERYTHING in the document once it gets synched up. not sure how to explain it, but it’s happened to me a couple of times (though to be honest, it’s likely all my fault).

  10. Jeff Croft says:

    Transmit (and most modern FTP clients) supports sFTP (or FTP over SSH). I’m sure most people using Transmit are using it in SSH mode…

  11. robertm says:

    I would use another -geekier- ftp client if it functioned better than Transmit does. But it’s nice I don’t have to. Panic has done a great job with the interface design. (and try Cmd clicking that icon in the About.. box :-)
    Here is a good rant that explains why I don’t miss column view in Transmit, original link courtesy of Mr. Gruber.

  12. #7 Joe – I’m calling it an “FTP application”, but in reality, RBrowser supports SCP, and Transmit supports SFTP (which also tunnels through SSH, if I remember correctly). I’m assuming SFTP isn’t as vulnerable as plain ol’ FTP, and is as secure as SCP — or maybe it’s the same thing? Heck if I know.

  13. Andrew Green says:

    I’ve been using Transmit for well over a year now, and pretty much rely on it.
    My only gripe is this: I often have a selection of windows open to different locations on the server, but because the title bar of each Transmit window only gives the host name, it’s sometimes really hard to know which window is which in Expos

  14. Jeff Croft says:

    I might not be 100% accurate on this, but I think scp and sftp are basically the same thing. Wehn you use them from the command line, you get an FTP-like interface with “sftp” and a unix “cp”-like interface when you use “scp”. But, I think in the background they are basically doing the same thing — tunneling your file transfer over SSH, which, of course, encrypts it.

  15. Have you guys seen Cyberduck? It’s free, and it is much better than RBrowser. Does FTP and SFTP.

  16. I used to be a staunch user of Rbrowser, but the rsync utility (used from the command line) is fantastic. I rarely if ever need to open a GUI FTP client anymore. If you develop web applications locally before ‘syncing’ them with a production server, rsync is the best solution, IMAO.
    It’s only failing is that it is so feature-rich, it’s easy to get lost when you are learning it’s syntax. Simple usage:
    $ rsync -e ssh -uvr /your/source/folder/ user@host:/your/destination/folder/
    And if you have configured Terminal to securely access your website with SSH or SFTP without requiring a password, it’s an even better experience.

  17. On a silly note, the icon looks even cooler bouncing in your Dock if you have the Dock pinned to the right edge of the screen. Then it looks like it’s trying to drive right onto your Desktop!

  18. asarazor says:

    I’ve be known to wonder aloud why Interarchy is never mentioned in these discussions. It supports a bunch of protocols incl. FTP/SFTP and HTTP, has a beautiful finderesque interface (with all three view options), and of course lets not forget the tabs, FTP disks, Rendezvouz support plus other things I’ve yet to investigate (there’s only so much procrastination I can get out of a FTP client).
    It’s simply way more feature packed than Transmit, yet still stays focussed on the hero: helping you to do all that mundane FTPing as swiftly as possible.

  19. mathew says:

    transmit is 24.99 i think. isn’t interarchy 39.99 or something like that? that might be one of the reasons, i guess. i think it was for me!
    though, i have to admit it’s also the interface/icon for me too. i often won’t use an app if i don’t like the way it looks. back when i was looking for something, i think i looked at it and didn’t like the look of it. maybe? don’t quote me on that. :)

  20. Jeff Croft says:

    I’ve not tried Interarchy in some time, but when i did I didn’t like the interface as well as Transmit. Maybe I should try it again.
    For me, the reason for ignoring it is simple: the interface was crap back when it was Anarchy, and that’s when I discovered Transit (Transmit). I’ve simply never looked for another FTP client.

  21. Kevin Tamura says:

    I currently use rBrowser. It’s not great: everytime there is a new release mine ceases to function, with no warning. The first time this happened I thought it was my ISP. Oh what fun that was.
    Transmit sounds like a much better option. I’ll have to give it a try.

  22. Davezilla says:

    I used to switch between Fetch and Interarchy until Apple added most of the functionality Interarchy had into OS X. Now I’m all about Transmit and Cocktail.
    I’ve tried Cyberduck and ran screaming. Poorly written app. Fugu is equal to Transmit, possibly better, but I’ve paid for Transmit so there I am.

  23. Greg Hinch says:

    Am I the only one still using the command line to ftp? It does everything I need and doesn’t cost a cent.

  24. mathew says:

    greg: no, i also use ncftp when i’m feeling particularly geeky. my knowledge of the command line is limited, but i can ftp. and you’re right, $free == best;
    can you break down the advantages/disadvantages of using command line instead of transmit, etc.?

  25. Taylor says:

    I also use the command line. I’m on Linux, and I use ncftp. If you’re comfortable with command line work, it’s great (very feature-rich). I’d bet it compiles on OS X, but would have to try to be sure.

  26. Eric Curtis says:

    I have been very happy with a new kid on the block:
    Yummy FTP
    I hear there is a new update coming very soon.

  27. Russ says:

    Anyone try cuteftp or mac? I am a transmit user as well but I heard good things about cute.
    I use Flash FXP for my pc because it allows server to server transfers, I wish they made a product like that for the mac :)

  28. Cam says:

    I recently switched to a Mac, and the very first app I bought was Transmit. It’s probably the best FTP client I have ever used on any platform.
    (I had a look at CuteFTP for Mac, but it just didn’t turn me on for some reason.)

  29. Alex Kadis says:

    Mathew’s comment: “dang, i’m all over transmit. i’ve been using it for just over a year and love it. the icon is excellent. have you found the secret easter egg in the app yet!? ohbaby, it’s cool.”
    What secret feature? (I assume that’s what you mean by easter egg) Please DO tell us!

  30. Joshua Rudd says:

    Russ — i’ve used Fetch for Mac to transfer files server to server. i just open two connections and drag a file from one to the other.

  31. wee David says:

    As a fairly recent convert to a mac, I bought that version of CuteFTP, not knowing anything better. After using it through a number of versions on windows, I was disappointed by the mac version. My advice, don’t waste your money. Transmit is far superior.

  32. Tony says:

    What about the FTP extension for Firefox?

  33. I haven’t used FTP for years. Ever since I installed SSH. I use scp for all my transfer needs. It’s simple, quick, and easy.

  34. mathew says:

    alex: the easter egg is pretty neat. nothing ground-breaking, but certainly fun! :)
    if i told you what it was, would that be as fun as hunting for it?

  35. Here’s the primary reason I use an FTP client and not the commandline (most of the time): external editing in BBEdit. Being able to double-click a file to edit and save in real time is something I’ve gotten so used to. It all depends on how you work though. Some probably find it easier (and safer) to work locally, and only use commandline FTP for transferring files.

  36. DonW says:

    I had been using Cyberduck for a while, but felt like it lacked polish in a couple areas. So, I pitted Interarchy against Transmit and eventually settled on Transmit. For me, it came down to feature overload with Interarchy. It did some things nicely, but the window layouts were tough to get used to, and a lot of the features I just plain didn’t need. For only $24.99 vs. $39.99, I felt Transmit was the better deal. Plus, those beautiful icons… :-)

  37. Greg Hinch says:

    Well other than cost, the main reason I stick to the command line is simply the fact that every time I’ve tried a gui FTP client, there’s always something about it that doesn’t ‘feel’ right. I know that’s a bit ambiguous, but I hope you Mac people can understand when things ‘feel’ right. It usually comes down to I find one feature or layout pleasing, but wish it had something from another I used, and I just get fed up with not having everything from both. I think I may try Transmit when I get home though for all the praise it’s receiving here, and we’ll have to see if that satisfies my needs.

  38. Chunks says:

    Yeah i’m interested to know if anyone here is using the Firefox FTP extension? does it work well on mac?

  39. Alex says:

    I’ve been using Captain FTP for over a year now. It isn’t perfect either, but I preferred it to Transmit when I was testing both (over a year ago). Perhaps it’s time to give Transmit another try.

  40. robertm says:

    >Being able to double-click a file to edit and save in
    >real time is something I’ve gotten so used to. It all
    >depends on how you work though. Some probably
    >find it easier (and safer) to work locally, and only use
    >commandline FTP for transferring files.
    So parts or all of your website end up only existing on the server?

  41. Indranil says:

    Panic sure has a great track record.
    Remember Audion?

  42. Jonas says:

    A bit off topic, but is it just me or is the Panic Software logo very similar to Fudge hairproducts?

  43. Brian says:

    FWIW, FTPeel from Freshly Squeezed Software has a column view. But I don’t like it as much as Transmit.

  44. Darrel says:

    not to veer this thread too far off topic, but I’ve had the same worries about FTP as well. So, we got sFTP running on our server (just a test server in the basement). The problem I had with sFTP is that anyone with access can view the entire server directory. They can’t access anything, but they see everything. Granted, that could have been caused by me simply not setting it all up correctly on the server. ;o)

  45. Mark Wyner says:

    I’ve been using Transmit for about three years, and I never once looked back. The first version I used was far from glory, and I even experienced a version that was really buggy. But since that time, they’ve made it the best (in my opinion) FTP applciation from OS X. It’s a staple on my machine because it’s fast and friendly.
    An excellent feature that is often overlooked by users with no advanced FTP knowledge is that you can set a preference as to which files are to be transferred binary vs. ASCII. That means you can concurrently transfer a folder full of both images and .cgi files, and Transmit will automatically transfer them appropriately.
    I love Transmit.

  46. Luxuryluke says:

    Panic has rocked my world ever since their Audion played CDs initially. when it started having transparency effects and skins, i jumped for joy!
    After jumping, they released Transmit, which i have used religiously for years. Cabel is quite supportive of requests (though Transmit hasn’t been updated recently, you’ll find him very responsive). Also, Transmit does support SFTP, and works beautifully.
    I had always wanted a Transmit tee cause i loved the Lorry (which will backup if you click on the logo in About Transmit dialog box!!!) and since they don’t have anymore, I created my own version. TRANSMIT will soon own the world.
    For an interesting read on the history of PANIC, go here!

  47. Keith says:

    I love Transmit. Used it a long time.
    YummyFTP is an excellent FTP/SFTP client too. It does have a column view option, which is very nice. Also Aliases, which allow you to have a folder you can drop files onto for automatic upload by FTP.
    The support team is very responsive to feature requests.

  48. Yep, Transmit is a must have on a mac. No two ways about it :)

  49. mathew says:

    you just blew the easter egg! aaah! :)
    i’ve half a mind to post about the app at my weblog too. talking aboot os x apps is fun. yesterday was sherlock. always a pleasure to chat about apps, dan. keep it up! feel free comment at my blog about softs too if you’ve ever the time. :)

  50. Pascal says:

    I try tramsmit (fr) and agree with other comments. But why cant we have other external editors than bbedit ou subaedit ?

  51. Transmit was my pick of secure FTP clients until I used WinSCP on Windows. The ability to “pin” that app’s two windows so the remote window stays synchronised while you navigate around your local file system (and vice versa) is brilliant for uploading files scattered around various folders, such as for a complex website.
    WinSCP’s compare files feature is useful too – Transmit never seems to set the modification date after uploading a file. Eg, if I run Transmit’s Synchronize mode to synch up two folder structures, and then run it again a few minutes later (having changed no files in the local file system), no files should be transferred, however a few files always seem to get transferred anyway.
    I have emailed Cabel about these things, but as mentioned above, the app has not seen an update in quite some time.

  52. One of the best FTP clients I ever used, is FileZilla (currently version 2.2.9), you can download it from SourceForge, I am just not sure if there’s a version for Mac, I’m using it on Windows XP Professional machines mainly.
    My $ 0.02 ;-)

  53. Kevin Evans says:

    I am suprised no one has mentioned Vicomsoft FTP client…I used to use it alot but I’ve been using transmit for awhile now. I will probably go back.

  54. Well, I don’t use mac (I would, but have no money to buy one), so I cannot vouch for anything on mac. But I would like to know one thing. What does the icon for transmit look like?

  55. Russ says:

    It looks just like the picture posted in the post.

  56. Peter says:

    The one thing that drives me nuts about transmit is the way it handles transferring multiple items in the queue.
    If my settings say transfer up to 5 items, and I select two directories full of files, it treats the directories as individual items instead of the files within thems. This means it ends up only transfering two files at a time (one from each directory) instead of 5. Annoying.

  57. Colin says:

    The feature that sold me on Transmit was speed. It’s just much more responsive that any other GUI FTP client I tried for Mac. I missed the column view from Interarchy in the beginning but the speed difference completely made up for it.

  58. clint says:

    I’ve been using Transmit exclusively as well. I share in the complaint Andrew made about it not showing which site name you specified, I have 3 clients on the same host and two on the same server and its a hassle…
    also Ive had bad experiences downloading sites, it disconnects from the servers alot, uploading no problem.
    they are really due for an update as well… its been a year.

  59. Doug says:

    I use Transmit version 2.6.2 with Pagespinner. Other options are BBEdit Lite and Textwrangler.
    I also use Fetch for clients, as I can set up an upload icon on their desktop so they can just drag files to send them to the server. It works very well, even after moving the setup to a new computer.
    I use Pagespinner more that BBEdit as I can preview in my web browser without saving (it saves a preview version) and it automatically translates quotation marks, etc. upon saving. (Does BBEdit have those features buried somewhere that I haven’t found yet?)

  60. JH says:

    What about using Finder?
    Just hit Command-K, and work in ftp://servername just like the local filesystem. This was pretty broken in Jaguar but seems better in Panther. Anyone else use this?
    Lftp (install using fink) is my favorite CLI client — persistent connections, shell commands, background operations, mirroring, batch/script jobs etc.

  61. Andy Stones says:

    I can’t afford a mac either (*sobs*)..
    I use Bullet Proof as my ftp manager (not exactly a good website, but hey… the softwares good!)

  62. Luxuryluke says:

    That’s a great idea, JH! I am unable to connect to the SFTP sites i connect to, though. Is the Finder capable of secure ftp? trying now as we speak…
    um, not so much. verdammt!
    Solutions, anyone?

  63. I agree that Transmit is the only way to fly, err make files fly to and from the internet on a mac. Fast, simple and reliable. excellent application.

  64. russ says:

    With bbedit? does in hav an auto close tag feature like the code editor in dreamweaver?

  65. Brian Tully says:

    Transmit is great. the best ftp client for OS X IMHO. Been using it for 2 years now ever since NetFInder died off.
    one thing i really miss is a “filter” option, which I believe NetFInder had. Basically there was a text input box in the toolbar where you could use regular expressions to only list files matching your regexp.
    VERY useful for those untidy sites/directories you’ve inherited where all file types are mixed together.
    for example if i wanted to list only files ending in .php I would type *.php into the filter text box and presto only php files would show up.
    i remember sending an email to Panic a while back asking for this type of function to be added to Transmit. Perhaps if others think it would be useful they will consider it?
    even without this function i think it’s the most stable and easy to use ftp client.

  66. Brian Tully says:

    With bbedit? does in hav an auto close tag feature like the code editor in dreamweaver?
    russ – the short answer is no, but there is a set of AppleScripts you can download called BBAutoComplete that you can sort of use to emulate this function. it’s kludgy and a manual process (as as such, a bit of a misnomer), but some people swear by it. it’s written by the same guy who wrote SpamSieve (Michael Tsai), so it’s gotta be good, right? ;)

  67. Dane says:

    With bbedit? does in hav an auto close tag feature like the code editor in dreamweaver?
    Brian is right, there is not one that is like dreamweaver’s. But imho BBEdit’s built in feature works a little better. There is a menu item Markup > Close Current Tag. It does not have a default keyboard short cut, but you can assign one BBEdit > Set Menu Keys. (I use command shift period) And I don’t have to worry about getting past the closing tag when I’m done, Just go on to the next thing.
    To be more on topic. I’ve been using Transmit for a bit over a year. If I recall the decision came down to the fact that Transmit was low on clutter and high on efficient ease of use.

  68. Morun says:

    Im using Firefox and there is an extention firFTP, it’s very nice FTP client. The market for making FTP-clients is gone, by now the FTP-client problem should be solved. How many ftp clients are there? 50.000?

  69. Rodrigo says:

    The column view would be nice, but it the user interface would have to be rebuilt. It wouldn´t fit well on your screen unless you have one of those Apple Cinema Displays.

  70. Paul Robertson says:

    Transmit 3 has a column view

  71. Mary says:

    Have you tried Interarchy? ( That was my favourite FTP client for years when I had a Mac. Give it a whirl.

  72. Luxuryluke says:

    Currently enjoying Transmit 3 like a H-addict!