Did you know that your Mac has a built-in FTP client? You don’t need to download any additional software to connect to FTP sites from Mac OS X, instead you can connect to remote servers directly from your desktop.
FTP from your Mac
If you want to test this by connecting to a real server, use ftp://ftp.mozilla.org and login as a Guest
- From your Mac desktop hit Command+K to pull up the “Connect to Server” window (alternatively, you can access this from the “Go” menu)
- Enter the address of the ftp server in the following format: ftp://ftp.domain.com
- If you want to add a bookmark to ‘Favorite Servers’ for repeated connections, click on the + icon next to the “Server Address” field
- Click on “Connect” and wait to connect to the remote server
- Enter the FTP username and password, or connect as “Guest” if the server allows guest connections and click on “Connect” again
Note about FTPS Connections: If you want to connect to an FTPS server, just prefix the domain with the ftps:// rather than ftp:// if the server has SSL support.
Now that you are connected to the FTP server, you can browse the remote server like any other local folder on your Mac. Just note that if you drag or drop a file to or from the server it will attempt to transfer that file.
By default the window will show as a minified Finder window, but you can hit the silver button on the far right to expand the window to your familiar Mac OS X Finder style. The other 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, etc.
Obviously the FTP features in Mac OS X are 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, it’s more than adequate. If you need more advanced features, both of the aforementioned apps are fantastic and integrate well with other apps.