Turn On FTP on a Mac Running OS X El Capitan

There are lots of ways you can transfer files between Macs, and one of these is to use FTP. This method of file transfer can be practical if you have a lot of files to copy, and you want to manage how many get sent at a time.

Turning on FTP in OS X is quite simple, but it’s not easy to find. Go to the Sharing pane in System Preferences, and then enable Remote Login.

Remote login

This enables both FTP (or, more accurately, SFTP, or secure FTP), and SSH (secure shell). You can then use your favorite FTP client to copy files to and from that Mac.

8 thoughts on “Turn On FTP on a Mac Running OS X El Capitan

    • Indeed, it used to be in the Sharing pane of System Preferences, behind File Sharing > Options. I’m not sure if they changed it with El Capitan or, perhaps, Yosemite.

    • Indeed, it used to be in the Sharing pane of System Preferences, behind File Sharing > Options. I’m not sure if they changed it with El Capitan or, perhaps, Yosemite.

  1. FTP ≠ SFTP your client software needs to explicitly support SFTP, and the network ports used are different. So modern clients like Cyberduck, Transmit, etc will work OK, but very old software will not. And if you’re relying on the FTP compatibility kludge of WordPress and similar systems, they won’t work with SFTP. Worth mentioning that by enabling SSH, you not only get SFTP, but also rsync – which will do a differential folder sync, unlike SFTP which will just replace all files.

  2. FTP ≠ SFTP your client software needs to explicitly support SFTP, and the network ports used are different. So modern clients like Cyberduck, Transmit, etc will work OK, but very old software will not. And if you’re relying on the FTP compatibility kludge of WordPress and similar systems, they won’t work with SFTP. Worth mentioning that by enabling SSH, you not only get SFTP, but also rsync – which will do a differential folder sync, unlike SFTP which will just replace all files.

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