Being a busy webmaster, I constantly have to manage remote files, backups and all else stored away on remote servers using one of the many FTP programs available on the Mac. Here are the top three:
Fetch (Fetch SoftWorks; Shareware; $25)
Fetch was one of the first FTP clients created for the Macintosh. Similar to the Finder, Fetch operates using a single pane uploading interface. While this allows for more simplicity and fluidity to be present throughout the interface it’s slightly more difficult to compare local files, and some cases an additional finder window is required. In the current version there is no support for spring-loaded folders or column views.
In addition to the obvious FTP and SFTP connections, Fetch allows for secure connections using the Kerberos service, as well as support for more proxy options than other comparable FTP clients. It also features something coveted by many: automatic file compression on upload, supporting Gzip, Gzip Tar, Stuffit, and Zip formats. If you take advantage of it, this may be Fetch’s killer feature. It also features the ability to edit text files graphics, remotely.
Unlike some other FTP apps, Fetch has no capability to create drop-boxes for uploading to frequented locations. It does have support for AppleScript, so someone with a bit of coding knowledge could build these quite easily.
Fetch is a very powerful, yet simple FTP app. The simplicity might put it at a minor disadvantage in comparison with other similarly priced applications. But should serve well anyone who needs a reliable FTP client.
Transmit (Panic; Shareware; $29.95)
Panic’s Transmit is undoubtedly one of the most critically acclaimed FTP clients on the Mac platform. With it’s functional, beautiful interface, and innovative features, her praise is well-deserved. There is nothing drastic about Transmit’s interface and there should be little-to-no learning curve when switching from any other Mac FTP app.
Transmit includes browser-like tabs, which allows for improved organization of a cluttered workflow. It also has the ability to synchronize folder navigation, meaning that the hierarchial navigation can be synchronized throughout both your local, and remote files.
The app’s interface is even further improved for those new to FTP, using layman’s terms, your local files are titled “your files” and remote files nicknamed “their files”. Transmit also has spring-loaded folders.
Transmit includes support for the standard file transfer methods: FTP, SFTP, FTP with use of SSL; and the not-so-standard WebDAV with HTTPS and secure HTTP support.
Remotely editing nearly any remote file in a local application is a breeze, and is especially useful when making small edits. Transmit also offers the ability to synchronize a local folder with a remote one. There is also an included Dashboard widget for quick drag-and-drop uploading.
One of Transmit’s unique features is DockSend. Any file you drag into its dock icon can be copied to a designated location on the remote server. Transmit also features the ability to dynamically calculate folder sizes, which is a great feature if you use it.
Transmit is a full-featured, seamlessly integrated, and beautifully designed FTP app, nearly guaranteed to improve your uploading work-flow. It’s features outnumber and outperform that of competing apps and though it may be a few dollars more, it’s surely worth it.
CyberDuck (CyberDuck; Open Source (GPL); Free)
CyberDuck is full-featured, free, and open source. CyberDuck’s interface is standard for anyone who has used a graphical FTP client before. It provides well integrated support for OS X’s drag-and-drop environment and takes advantage of many of OS X’s other core technologies such as Bonjour and the Keychain.
Remote editing is supported, though only for text-editing. Like all the other apps we’ve looked at, CyberDuck includes support for remote synchronization of local files. It also has the ability to resume transfers, full Applescript support, and extensive localization with built-in support for 23 languages.
With its open source architecture, streamlined interface, well implemented features and very few bugs, CyberDuck is a great zero-cost alternative to its non-free competitors with little feature reduction.
While any of these applications would be a great choice for someone in need of an FTP client, one stands out from the rest: Transmit. Its complete feature set, seamless integration, and beautifully designed UI warrant this application a winner. While it may cost a bit more, it simply outperforms the rest.