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FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

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Feb 7, 2011 - 49 Comments

Did you know that your Mac has a built-in FTP & FTPS client? You don’t
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need to download any additional software or apps to connect to FTP
sites from Mac OS X, instead you can connect to remote servers
directly from your desktop by using an excellent and little known OS X Daily
feature. If you’ve never used the Mac FTP tools before, you will find
them incredibly simple and quite familiar, because the connection
utilities and server browsing are much like navigating through the Like Page
normal Mac desktop. Let’s get started.
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How to FTP from your Mac
If you want to test this by connecting to a real server, use and login as a
Guest. Regardless, here’s how to start an FTP connection from Mac OS X to a remote server:

1. From your Mac desktop or Finder, hit Command+K to pull up the “Connect to Server”
window (alternatively, you can access this from the “Go” menu) OSXDaily

2. Enter the address of the ftp server in the following format:
+ 8.419
3. Optional: If you want to add a bookmark to ‘Favorite Servers’ for repeated connections,
click on the + icon next to the “Server Address” field

4. Click on “Connect” and wait to connect to the remote server

5. Enter the FTP username and password, or connect as “Guest” if the server allows guest
connections and click on “Connect” again

Here is what starting a standard FTP connection will look like: Page 1 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

If you want to use a secured connection instead you just need to make a tiny modification, which
we’ll discuss next.

Using FTPS for Secured Connections

If you want to connect to secured FTPS server, all you need to do is prefix the domain with ftps://
rather than ftp://. This is dependent on the remote server having SSL support and acceping
FTPS connections, which most servers do. The minor difference is pointed out in the screenshot

Something to keep in mind is that FTPS and SFTP are two different protocols; FTPS is FTP with
a secure SSL layer, while SFTP uses SSH (yes, the same protocol that SSH servers are enabled
by with Remote Login in OS X). FTPS connections are supported directly in OS X’s built-in FTP
functionality, while SFTP through SSH is not accessible through the same “Connect to Server”
menu. Nonetheless, OS X does include a native SFTP client as well, and it’s accessible from the
Terminal by typing “sftp username@host” at the command line. Because SFTP and SSH in
general are generally command line based, that’s really a topic for another article, so we’ll keep
things simple here and stick with FTP and FTPS.

Navigating & Transferring Files with FTP & FTPS

Once you are connected to the FTP server, you can browse the remote server like any other local
folder on your Mac, because the server is treated just like a normal file system window in the

Copying files to the remote server, or downloading them to the Mac, is done easily with simple
and familiar drag and drop. Navigate to the file or folder you want to copy, then just drag and
drop it as if you were copying or moving any other file, and the items will being to transfer
to/from the FTP server to the Mac, or vice versa. Page 2 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

By default the window will show as a minified Finder window, but you can expand the window to
your familiar Mac OS X Finder style by pulling down the “View” menu and choosing “Show
Toolbar”. The main benefit to expanding the window is that you get the forward and back arrow
navigation buttons, in addition to sorting options to browse through the FTP server by icon,
name, date, lists, and the search functions.

You can also start an SFTP server on any Mac to be able to connect to it this way for
downloading or transferring files.

By the way, if you were wondering, I have my titlebars set to display full directory paths which
is why you see the path on the remote server in the second screenshot.

What about third party FTP clients for Mac?

Since the Finder FTP function does not support some features users may wish to have on their
Mac, there are plenty of third party OS X apps that can do the job instead, with full FTP, SFTP,
FTPS support, downloads, uploads, queuing, permissions changing abilities, read/write support,
and much more. In no particular order, here are a few free FTP apps for Mac OS X:



There are many other options available, including simply using the command line on the Mac,
which has full sftp support as well. Advanced users may wish to go with paid SFTP applications
too, like Transmit or Yummy FTP.

The FTP features in Mac OS X have been around since the earliest days of OS X, and they’re still
around in OS X Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard, you name it, it’s supported.
While incredibly useful, they are obviously not as developed as third party FTP clients like
Transmit or Cyberduck, but if you’re in a bind and just need to quickly connect to a remote FTP
to transfer some files back or forth, it’s more than adequate and it does not require downloading
anything additional. If you need more advanced features, both of the aforementioned apps are
fantastic and integrate well with other apps. Page 3 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

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warmz says:
February 7, 2011 at 4:44 am



Marc says:
February 7, 2011 at 5:34 am

Might add that there are several protocols available via this “tip”. Page 4 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

smb:// – for connecting to samba (Windows shares)

vnc:// – for Apple’s Screen Sharing
afp:// – apple file protocol
http:// – I think this is for WebDAV


Nico says:
February 7, 2011 at 5:58 am

Nice. But how to change the read & write permissions on the remote server…


Parakeet says:
February 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

If you are logged in you can make RWX changes through Get Info

I’ll still use Transmit but this is a good tip


tftb says:
July 8, 2011 at 7:11 am

Unfortunately you can’t change the read and write permissions and it seems its
only read permissions via this FTP.


tenroc says:
February 7, 2011 at 8:18 am

Yeah, but the directory is read only on the FTP server.


Trench says:
February 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

Same problem here. I’m not getting the option to change read/write permissions.


icebreaker says:
February 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

You can not change read/write permissions from a windows based server on a mac. Just
use remote desktop connection for mac from microsoft and login to the server and change
it their. Would like to see this issue fixed.

Reply Page 5 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

Don says:
February 8, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Of course you can use FTP from your Mac. The Mac is a Unix system, and all Unix systems
have FTP built-in. You can use it from the command line (using the Terminal app). In this
case, the GUI doesn’t make it any easier.


OS X FTP says:
February 11, 2011 at 12:01 am

[…] via OSXDaily […]


David says:
February 21, 2011 at 1:25 am

It’s a bit unfortunate though that it doesn’t support sftp:// in finder, while it works just fine in
the terminal (since it’s unix power..). Sticking with FileZilla for sftp atm.


Change File Permissions in Mac OS X says:

February 21, 2011 at 4:53 am

[…] readers pointed out that you can use Get Info to adjust file permissions on remote files
using the Mac OS X built-in FTP client, which is pretty convenient if you’re without a
separate FTP […]


Connecting Mac To Mac | says:

March 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

[…] connect-ftp-from-mac […]


Quickly Connect to any Server from any App via the Dock says:
April 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

[…] on the Finder icon in the Dock and selecting “Connect to Server.” From here you can
connect to FTP, SMB, local, or remote servers as usual – and yes they will open in the […]


John says:
April 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm

It’s not really FTP support if you can’t upload. Does this really not support copying files to
the FTP server?

Reply Page 6 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

Start an FTP or SFTP Server in Mac OS X says:

September 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

[…] hasn’t finished starting yet or you didn’t enter the command properly. You can then FTP
from other Macs via the same ftp command, or by using the “Connect to Server” option in
the […]


Angel says:
December 7, 2011 at 10:50 am

Awesome…!! when I read about these little tips which are BIG TIPS I realize how much I
need to learn more about my MAC.



Sarah says:
January 6, 2012 at 9:27 am

I don’t have a mac and filezilla is crap, so I’ve started to use Maytech.


stuart says:
February 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

Whats crap about filezilla? , I’m just trying it as the normal client I use isn’t installed on
the mac I’m working on and I’m much preferring it to the cyberDuck that I most often
use on osx.


Al says:
January 16, 2012 at 9:02 am

Thanks for posting this, but…

I am running 10.6.8, and get an odd error when trying this route. I can enter into my web browser (both Safari & Firefox), enter the ftp login
when prompted, and can view the directory. However, when I try to do it from the Connect
to Server prompt, I get “You have entered an invalid username or password”. I have tried
both, as well as, and get the same error
either way.

Any ideas?


Matt says:
January 16, 2012 at 10:39 am Page 7 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

It’s probably defaulting to your Mac user name, be sure to specify the appropriate
name for the server


gena says:
February 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Hw do you do that?


Joe says:
February 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I can connect to an ftp server using terminal and ftp but when I try using Finder it says
invalid user name or password. Since I have a @ in my password and that messes up the
ftp://username:password@address form for entering an ftp address with user name and
password, I am wondering if that is the problem? If so, do I have to change the password or
is there a way around this (maybe with a \@ or something like that?)?


Peter says:
April 1, 2012 at 5:14 am

The GUI version is unusable as it’s read only – mught as well use the ftp:// scheme in a
If you really want to *upload* files, why don’t you use the command-line client?
Open the Terminal and type:
it will ask for your username and password (and in this case an @ in the address is not a
then you can upload whatever you want with:
put filename
you don’t need to type the complete filename though – just the first letters and then press
Tab for autocomplete
have fun!


Brandon says:
April 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Only problem? This is read only. Can’t copy files to the server. Useless garbage.


Loraine says:
December 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm Page 8 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

Totally useless…


jsherk says:
April 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Yes, I noticed the same thing on OS X Lion … read only! Would have been awesome if you
could write as well!


Edward Beckett says:

July 19, 2012 at 9:46 pm


What else do ya’ need?


Guy Terry says:

August 18, 2012 at 10:13 pm

I also could not get it to accept my username and password combination. I have verified
that they are correct. I’m not sure what the deal is, but my username does have an @ in the
password. I typed in the command in Terminal just as suggested above, and it said that I
didn’t specify a file name. What else could be wrong?


David J Pietz says:

November 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

OK. I command-K like above and browsed from there. I saw the offending site and
unmounted it. I cant power down right now, but I guess my problem is solved. Thanks


Greg says:
November 25, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Doesn’t work for me. Not at all. Always says I’ve entered an invalid username or password.
Guess I don’t really care, since it’s read-only anyway.


DFLAN says:
December 6, 2012 at 3:11 am

Ridiculous article … FTP in the Finder is useless : Page 9 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

1. Doesn’t allow uploads

2. Unstable

Advising people to use it is just irresponsible and misleading.

I personally use Yummy FTP ( and it’s really easy to use
and very reliable. But any other FTP client app will work better than the Finder!!


Erin says:
January 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Hello DFLAN,
Thanks for mentioning Yummy Software. I have been looking for an FTP client for Mac
users. I am trying the trial version of Yummy FTP and so far it works great. :)

Hello Paul,
I appreciate what you posted. However, it didn’t work on my Mac.


donls says:
June 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I have been using Interarchy (and its predecessor Anarchy) for years, and am
very happy with it. From time to time I try other clients (such as Flow, which I got
in a bundle deal) but I keep coming back to Interarchy. Lots of extra features
(most of which I don’t use), but usually very stable and reliable.


nk says:
February 25, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Need to connect with the ftp address which contains only ip address.and when giving
“ftp://ip” details it is giving error.please suggest……


robin says:
November 7, 2013 at 5:25 am

I have a windows machine running FTP server and can connect ok from other pcs. My mac
keeps giving me an error message saying incorrect ftp password even though I can logon
from another pc on the same local network OK. I tried filezilla client on the mac too – it just
gives timeout messages.
I’ll try command line(terminal app) next

Reply Page 10 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

WBKitty says:
January 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for this–worked like a charm. I have a Mac with Mountain Lion. I set up an FTP
account through my Web Host. Command-K opened the FTP window. Initially, I also had
trouble with the Username and Password. I expected that they would be the same combo I
had just created to set up my FTP account. NOPE! A bit puzzling until I realized that I was
encountering the security of my Web Host, not the FTP account. When I tried the Username
and Password combo that I use to log into my Web Host account, everything worked like a
charm. I was able to drag and drop the files and folders I needed. Thanks so much for
making me aware of this great feature! OS X is much more powerful than I will ever know,
and I love it that the Internet quickly provides answers to my needs. I was looking at third
party software when I came across your post. Awesome!


Bill says:
May 27, 2014 at 5:26 am

Are you saying you can upload files to your web server this way? I set this up and can
download beautifully, but cannot drag and drop a file onto the server window to effect
an upload. Everything I read says apple did not supply this capability with this
interface. Dis you manage to find a setting or defeat this? I would LOVE to use this
GUI to upload.

Best and thanks,


Paul says:
May 27, 2014 at 10:19 am

Yes you can use the file system as a simple FTP manager to upload files to
remote servers.

Simply use the FTP protocol from the Mac and the familiar drag & drop within the
file system to upload files to the remote FTP server.

You can use secure ftp by prefixing with “ftps://domain”


clu says:
June 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

No it is read only. Cannot upload. Using OSX 10.9.3 Mavericks.


donls says:
June 27, 2014 at 1:06 pm

I found the same thing. FTP window (or ftps) is read-only. (running Page 11 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

I can connect just fine, using ssh credentials from my keychain, and I own
the account on the other end. I just can’t write to it.


DDC says:
January 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I’ve tried accessing my printer’s ftp various ways (ftp link, their website, various browsers) –
worked fine last time, not at all this month. Printer says it’s working fine on their end. I
checked my Mac security and tried uploading via cmd+K and FileZilla. Neither worked.
Can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.


Donnell says:
May 27, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Thank you


megadr01d says:
November 18, 2014 at 9:32 am

Read/write FTP. That’s the whole point of this article.


Andre says:
February 4, 2015 at 6:55 am

While I can DOWNLOAD from your FTP server to the Mac, I can not UPLOAD from your
Mac to the FTP server.


Anson says:
February 11, 2015 at 4:00 am

Same here, trying to figure out how to change permission for MAC, since its only Read-
Only permission (can’t Upload), while WINDOWS can Read/Write (Upload/Download).

Please help.


Rey says:
April 13, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Whenever I try to press cmd+k on my desktop, nothing happens. I also can’t see the Page 12 of 14
FTP from Mac OS X 4/16/16, 8:37 PM

“Connect to server” option under the Go menu. How can I fix this?


Josh says:
May 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

It only works when you’re in Finder. Open a Finder window and then press Command-


Sarah Alawami says:

November 25, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Here’s the odd thing. I got ftp working but ftpwho is not working. I’m wondering if this is
linux specific or if ftpwho can work under unix as well as both are sort of the same.


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