FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is the standard way of transferring files between your computer and your server, whether it be shared or dedicated. One of the nice things about FTP is the fact that you can view and edit the entire file structure of your website or file server remotely, without ever touching your server. In order to do this, you’ll need an FTP client. FTP clients allow you to connect your Mac to your remote server via the Internet.
While FTP clients are pretty basic applications, they’re not all created equally. Some feature different price-tags, feature lists and other important differences. There’s a number of well known paid FTP apps for the Mac, but what if you just want to upload a couple files and don’t want to spend a ton to do it? That’s why we’ve thrown together a list of the best free FTP clients for Mac OS X. At the end of the article, we’ll also show you a few paid alternatives which are sure to fit the needs of the power user, if you outgrown the free FTP options.
If you’re looking for a more complex server or IT management solution, it’s worth investigating some of the SaaS networking monitoring apps on the market, such as Datadog or up.time.
CyberDuck is one of the most popular FTP applications for Mac OS X for two pretty good reasons: features and price. CyberDuck offers a ton of features such as Amazon S3, Amazon CloudFront, RackSpace and even Google integration. Connecting to standard FTP servers is also a breeze with CyberDuck as you can easily save multiple FTP configurations as defaults for easy reconnection to multiple servers. While CyberDuck may be free, you can also choose to purchase it for $23.99 via the Mac App Store to get rid of the donation ad which shows when launching and quitting the application.
Price: Free with paid options.
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Swiss Made Software
FileZilla is another awesome and free FTP client for OS X. While it may be simple, you can get a lot out of the app. FileZilla gives you the ability to easily view the full file structure of the website or file server you’re working with. The application also shows you the status, commands and responses from your server in text, which is pretty cool if you ask me. Finally, FileZilla is completely open source, so you can modify the application if you so desire.
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
If you want the most basic FTP client possible, you should give Classic FTP a look. Even though the application doesn’t have the prettiest user interface of all time, Classic FTP is very easy to use. After setting up your FTP server with Classic FTP, you can easily drag and drop files onto your server. That’s pretty much all the application does, for better or worse.
Requires: OS X 10.3 or later
Developer: NCH Software
OneButton is a pretty barebones FTP application. Once you’ve setup a remote server, you can instantly start uploading and downloading files to and from your server via drag and drop. If you’d like, you can que files for later upload if you find yourself offline or on a slow connection. Even though this app may not be supported by its developer, OneButton FTP still works fine on OS X 10.8.
Requires: OS X 10.4 or later
Avid Firefox users will absolutely love FireFTP as the application virtually lives inside of it. While FireFTP is indeed a Firefox extension, I’ve still decided to add it to this list as it’s a fully functioning FTP client for Mac. Once installed, you can use FireFTP as you would any other FTP client: to upload and download files to your remote server. I’ve used FireFTP when developing websites and testing them within Firefox as it allows me to easily switch between my FTP client and a Firefox tab. However, FireFTP’s interface still leaves a lot to be desired as it looks like a Windows XP application.
If you’re a security freak, Secure FTP Client is the application is for you. Secure FTP may be a pretty barebones FTP client, but it allows for 256-bit AES encrypted FTP connections. This makes sure that your file uploads and downloads are as secure as possible. The application also looks pretty good, so it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Developer: Glub Tech
CrossFTP is one of my personal favorite FTP clients for Mac. This is because the application not only looks good, but it offers a ton of features. For instance, CrossFTP features direct integration with Amazon S3 hosting as well as standard FTP. If you’re a frequent WebDav user, you can even setup a WebDav server with CrossFTP. One of my favorite features of CrossFTP is the fact that you can easily schedule uploads within the application.
Requires: OS X 10.3 or later
Three paid alternatives
Transmit is currently the FTP client to own if you’re on a Mac. Why is this? Simple, because Transmit offers pretty much everything you’d want in an FTP client. Not only can you upload and download files via a standard FTP server, but you can also take advantage of the built-in Amazon S3 and WebDav integration. Transmit also offers a feature under the name Transmit Disk. Transmit Disk allows you to mount your FTP and Amazon S3 servers as network drives on your Mac. Because of this, you can upload files to your FTP servers without Transmit even being open. All you have to do is drag and drop the into Finder.
Requires: OS X
Yummy FTP is an interesting FTP client for Mac OS X. While the application is pretty basic interms of its core features, there are a few things which make Yummy stand out from the crowd. First off, Yummy features FTP aliases which allow you to create aliases of your FTP servers on your desktop or within Finder. Dragging files onto an alais automatically uploads the file to said server. Another feature which stood out to me was DualBrowse. DualBrowse is a folder-linked navigation tool which allows for synchronized browsing of local and remote directories.
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Yummy Software
Flow is probably the prettiest FTP client on the market as it offers an extremely minimal look and feel. The application also offers a few cool features such as built-in text editor. This editor allows developers to make changes to HTML, CSS and other types of files on their server from within Flow. When you make a change, it’s automatically updated on your site’s backend. This feature alone allows me to recommend Flow to anyone.
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or higher
Developer: Five Details
There you have it, the best free FTP clients for Mac OS X. After checking out a few of these free but functional applications for yourself, be sure to leave a comment below telling us which is your favorite. And if you’re already using an FTP client which isn’t on this list, feel free to let us know!