How to FTP on a Mac

by Jack Gerard

FTP is a file transfer protocol designed to move whole files from one computer or server to another. Transferring files by FTP is much faster than using other methods like HTTP, which is designed for transferring text and images, rather than data files. Mac computers have an FTP client built into the operating system. This built-in client allows users to transfer files to and from an FTP server and to share files with other users using FTP.

Connect to a Server

Step 1

Open the "Finder" menu. Select "Go," then click "Connect to Server" in the menu options that appear.

Step 2

Enter the address of the FTP server you wish to connect to, then click the "Connect" button. If the server requires a user name and password, enter them into the respective fields.

Navigate the FTP server once connected. You may download or upload files as you would with any other computer on your network.

FTP File Sharing

Step 1

Open the "Apple" menu. Select the "System Preferences" option, then click "Sharing" from the "View" menu that appears.

Step 2

Choose "File Sharing" from the menu on the left-hand side of the "Sharing" window. Click the "+" icon under the shared folder list to locate the folder you wish to share, then select it and click the "Options..." button.

Step 3

Click "Share Files and Folders Using FTP" to allow others to connect to the folder using FTP.

Adjust your router's settings to allow incoming connections, if necessary. Consult the manual for the specific settings for your router's model.


  • FTP servers do not usually encrypt user names, passwords and other connection information, making them significantly less secure than other connection types.


  • To send your username and password while connecting to an FTP server, format the server's address as "ftp://username:password@ftpaddress."
  • Third-party FTP clients offer additional features like drag-and-drop file transfers.


About the Author

Born in West Virginia, Jack Gerard now lives in Kentucky. A writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience, he has written both articles and poetry for publication in magazines and online. A former nationally ranked sport fencer, Gerard also spent several years as a fencing coach and trainer.

More Articles