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The FTP protocol and how to use it on a Mac?

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In: Tech

Those who ran their websites in the 90s or early 2000s are probably familiar with FTP, but for those who are not, it can seem esoteric and complex. Nowadays, FTP remains a useful method among various sophisticated tools people use to deal with this issue, such as content management systems for managing their websites. This article will explain the basics of FTP and how it can be used on a Mac.

Meaning of FTP?

FTP stands for file transfer protocol. The best way to understand it is that it exists alongside HTTP and other internet protocols. By comparison, HTTP connects you to the websites you want and allows you to move between them by using hyperlinks. In contrast, FTP lets you easily and quickly move files to and from a remote server. As an example, if you own and run a website, you can use FTP to upload files from your Mac gadgets to the server that hosts your website. The FTP protocol is especially useful for transferring large files since some content management systems place a limit on the number of files that can be uploaded.

Advantages of File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

  • Transfer of big files

Big files are typically transferred via FTP because some content management systems place limits on how big these files can be. And systems do it because it further provides an ease to them as fast processing and for having great results.

  • Directly work on remote files

Furthermore, FTP allows you to treat your Mac’s connection to a server as if it was a local drive once you have connected. Consequently, you might be able to open a file on the remote server, work on it on your Mac, and then save it without ever transferring it to your Mac.

  • Help in improving workflow

If your organization does not have a standard file sharing process, it can negatively affect your business workflow. With a bulk transfer, you don’t have to share a single file at a time, you can send huge quantities of data in a couple of clicks. You can also continue working while a large transfer is made or schedule a large transfer for nighttime or weekend, so your workflow is not interrupted.

Drawbacks of File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Security issue

The vast majority of FTP servers require you to log in with a username and password, but those credentials aren’t encrypted. The ‘man in the middle attack, which steals data as it’s being transmitted to and from the FTP server, has been used to compromise many FTP servers. With the introduction of SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) and FTPS (FTP over SSL), security has been enhanced.

It demands extra software

Although Finder allows you to connect to an FTP server (see below), you’ll need a third-party FTP client to fully utilize FTP.


When you’re transferring large files between your Mac and an FTP server, it’s important to first do a bit of cleanup. You’ll have more space on your Mac for files you download from FTP servers if you get rid of junk files and other files you don’t need. And for the cleanup, you can easily use different good software available online.

Is FTP safe or not?

It is best, however, to use a secure version whenever possible. If the files are encrypted as they are transferred, then SFTP or FTPS would be acceptable.

Steps for using FTP on Mac

For Mac users, the easiest way to use FTP on their gadgets is to use Finder to connect to a remote server and share to set up their Macs as FTP servers.

Set your Mac as an FTP server with these steps

  1. Navigate to the Apple menu, then click System Preferences
  2. Then, choose the Sharing pane
  3. Next, check for the box next to Remote Login
  4. Once that is done, choose whether to permit all users or only those you want
  5. Lastly, quit System Preferences

With remote login enabled, you can access your Mac via SFTP using the username and password associated with an account you have permission to access. You can easily connect to this server, with the help of the given below steps.

Steps for connecting an FTP server on Mac devices

  1. Select, the Finder in the Dock.
  2. Next, choose the Go menu, after that Connect to Server.
  3. Write the address of the server into the text box
  4. Click on Connect
  5. Also, fill in your username and password for the FTP server, if it demands.

Some great FTP clients for Mac

FTP server connections from the Finder can be used to copy files to and from the server but not for much else. You can edit files on the server using a third-party client, compare versions on the server with the versions on your computer, and manage duplicate files. On a Mac, you can access FTP servers in various ways. Some of them have the same function as the Finder but can be used instead. Dedicated FTP clients are also available. Here are a few: Forklift, CyberDuck, DC Commander, Transmit, and Commander One

You can choose any option as per your raised need. In terms of file transfer software that supports secure transfer protocols, CyberDuck is quite good. If you’re looking for an alternative to the Finder with a dual-pane interface and the ability to transfer files between locations, ForkLift and Commander One are best.  Likewise, if you’re looking for file transfer tools and services in one place, Transmit fits it fully.

An FTP server allows you to transfer files between your Mac and a remote server. However, to ensure your files are secure while they are in transit, you should use a secure protocol, such as SFTP or FTPS. Either you can use the Finder to connect to an FTP server or use a third-party tool for transferring and managing files depending on what you want to do.

Read More : – Your Mac running slow? Try Mac Optimizer Pro

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