FTP is still one of the best options to download files from server and vice versa, to upload files to server. FTP is better at transferring files than HTTP as the protocol is designed specifically for such need. Nearly all WordPress hosting services already come with FTP feature to allow you to access your files. Including popular services like WP Engine and several WP Engine alternatives like Kinsta, Rocket.net to Pressable.
To access your remote files using FTP, you need an FTP client app. If you use a Mac, you need to install it first as macOS has no built-in FTP client app. We have put together some of the best FTP client apps you can install on your Mac.
In the context of WordPress itself, the main use FTP client is to download the backup files of a website as not all backup features offered by a web hosting service allow to download backup files. SiteGround, for instance. Its backup feature is aimed at restoration only, without offering an option to download the files. Here is the list of the best FTP client apps for Mac.
Best FTP Clients for Mac
FileZilla is one of the most popular FTP client apps. Not just macOS, FileZilla is also available for Windows and Linux. The main reason why many people use FileZilla is because it is easy to use, with its dual-panel interface. The left panel is for remote files, while the right one is for local files. To upload local files to server, you can simply drag them to the left panel. Conversely, to download remote files to your local storage, you can drag them to right panel. FileZilla comes with a quick connect feature to allow you to connect to an FTP server more quickly, without adding a website first. Website manager is also available, though.
In addition to FTP, FileZilla also supports SFTP for a more secure connection as well as WebDAV. Furthermore, you can also use it to access your files stored on Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive and other cloud storage services.
FileZilla for Mac itself is available in two versions: free and paid. The free version is available on its official website, while the paid version can be installed via App Store. The main difference between the free version and the pro version is update method. The free version requires you to redownload — and reinstall — to make an update. While the pro version will be updated automatically when a new version is available.
Unlike FileZilla, Cyberduck doesn’t offer a dual-panel interface. But, to use it doesn’t require extra learning curve as Cyberduck comes with a context menu feature. You can right-click on a certain file and some menu options will show up. Simply select a menu option to run a certain operation. Cyberduck allows you to select multiple files by pressing the command key on your keyboard.
Cyberduck is a great FTP client app if you often edit files on your website, while your hosting service doesn’t offer a file manager feature. On Mac, Cyberduck is integrated with TextEdit. You can directly edit a remote file using TextEdit without needing to download it first. Cyberduck also comes with a quick connect feature. It also supports SFTP and WebDAV, other than FTP. Also, you can use Cyberduck to access your files stored on cloud storage services like Dropbox, Amazon S3, to Google Drive.
There are also two versions of Cyberduck for Mac. The paid version, which is available on App Store, and the free version which you can download on its official website.
3. Commander One
If you are not objected spending money, Commander One is worth trying if you need an FTP client app for your Mac. You can actually install the app for free. But to unlock some features, including FTP, you need to upgrade to the pro version. The interface of Commanded One itself is pretty similar to the Finder, the built-in file manager of macOS, but it is available in a dual-panel mode by default. Before you connect to your FTP server, all files on both panels are local files. After connecting your FTP server, the right panel will be used to display your remove files.
Commanded offers a drag and drop functionality for file operation just like FileZilla. An integration with TextEdit allows you to edit a remote file directly. Commander One itself supports FTP, SFTP, and WebDAV. Want to access your files stored on Google Drive or Dropbox? You can also do so.
Looking for an FTP client that offers a dual-panel interface? Transmit is another great app to try. Transmit is developed exclusively for macOS. No other operating system is supported by the app. Transmit is a paid app. No free version is available, but you can try it for free for 7 days during the trial period. You can install the app via App Store.
Transmit is great to both download remote files and edit remote files. The app has a great integration with macOS whereby it detects the installed text editors on your macOS, not just TextEdit. If you have VS Code installed, for instance. The app allows you to edit a remote file directly using it. Transmit itself has its own text editor in case you want try. Same as other apps above, Transmit also supports several file transfer protocols, not just FTP. You can also use it to access files stored on services like Dropbox to OneDrive.
Forklift is a great FTP client for Mac that has a clean, neat interface. You can use it as a file manager just like Finder and as an FTP client. The app itself offers a dual-panel interface. By default, all panels display your local files. After connecting to FTP server, the left panel displays the remote files and you can copy the remote files to your local storage by simply drag them to the right panel. And vice versa. You can drag the files from the right panel to the left panel to upload local files to the server. Forklift also has a great integration with macOS. It recognizes the apps installed on your OS, including VS Code to allow you to edit text files without downloading it first. It also comes with a preview feature to allow you to preview a file. Be it remote file or local file.
Same as Transmit, Forklift is also a fully paid app. Before you make a purchase, you can try Forklift for free during the trial period. Forklift itself supports FTP, SFTP, and WebDAV protocols. You can also use it to access files stored on Amazon S3 and Google Drive.
The Bottom Line
FTP is an internet protocol designed specifically for file transfer. It is quite useful in site administration whereby you can use it to download your website files for a backup need. In order to be able to transfer files using FTP, you need to have a client app on your computer. On Mac, you can install FileZilla, Transmit, and other apps we mentioned on the list.
A little note. Using FTP is no longer suggested for file transfer. Instead, you are suggested to use SFTP which is more secure and stable. Nearly all WordPress hosting services already supports SFTP. Kinsta even doesn’t support FTP anymore and only supports SFTP. If you are a SiteGround user, you can refer to our previous post to learn how to use SFTP on SiteGround. We also have a post covering how to use SFTP to manage WordPress files you may want to read.