The Little Truck that Could (First Impressions of Transmit 4.0)

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

Most people would normally not get excited about the release of an FTP application, let alone an upgrade to one – but, as you probably already inferred, I’m not “most people”. Newbie note: FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the method by which one moves files back and forth between a local machine and a web server.

Yesterday, Transmit 4.0 was launched into the wild by the crew at Panic. I was so excited, I downloaded and registered the upgrade the minute I woke up. (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

Transmit has had a long history on my machines. I’ve used it on practically every Mac I’ve ever owned. It’s one of the first applications I install on any new Mac because I have come to rely on it so much for managing my sites.

I use FTP a lot.

In my humble opinion, Transmit is simply the BEST FTP application I’ve ever used on the Mac (or any other system for that matter.) The program is intuitive, polished, and very robust in its feature set. Version 3.x was a solid release (released 5 years ago!), so when I first caught wind of version 4, I was very curious to know how Panic could make it even better. What follows is a brief run-down of the new features and some of the interesting things I’ve found with the program.

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

First things first, Transmit 4 is TINY, clocking in at a mere 45 MB. According to the Panic website, the program was rebuilt from scratch and now sports a 64-bit finish. When you first launch Transmit 4, you are presented with two window panes. On the left is “your stuff”, or a local view of your files. On the right is “their stuff”, aka your web server. You can customize your panes by making the left side “Remote” and right side “Local”, or have a two pane Finder window by making both sides “Local” to facilitate copying / moving files. This feature alone has eliminated the need for me to use ForkLift.

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

Gone are the old sidebars containing “favorite locations” from version 3.0. You can now quickly access your favorite folders (both local and remote) via the “Star Folder”.The advantage: Transmit’s window footprint is smaller, allowing you to focus on your files. You can bookmark your favorite folder locations (both remote and local) to save time (which is what I recommend).

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

Transmit 4.0 supports CoverFlow and Quick Look – bringing it (finally) in line with other Leopard and Snow Leopard applications. I don’t use CoverFlow a lot in my regular workflow but when I’m comparing differences between image files locally and remotely, having Quick Look around is immensely useful. You can view your files and folders in Icon View, List View, and Column View (which is what I prefer to use).

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

Another super handy feature in Transmit 4 is its super-fast “Search”. You can quickly scour a remote folder to find specific files. Unfortunately, the search feature seems to be specific to the folder you are in – you can’t use it to find files that are nested within a another folder.

In addition to FTP, you can also secure FTP, mount an Amazon S3 drive on your desktop, and even connect to a WebDAV server. You can even use it to connect to other local machines on your network, making it a super fast method of moving files back and forth.

Another new feature, which I haven’t tried is “Linking”, which lets you traverse both local and remote hierarchies simultaneously. For example, if your folder structure is mirrored locally, with Linking, you can click on a local folder in the hierarchy and Transmit will do the same for the remote view. (Pretty slick, huh?)

Transmit 4.0 screenshots

You can also use Transmit to synch a specific folder, based on rules you specify. I’ve performed synching manually and it works (even giving you the option to simulate the synch to make sure it does what you think it’s going to do.) Automated synching would be nice, but I have yet to confirm whether Transmit 4.0 does that or not.

Panic sells Transmit 4.0 for $34 for new users, or $19 for people who are upgrading from version 3. You can use one license on two machines, as long as you are not using the app simultaneously on both. You can also “try before you buy” by downloading a trial version, which is what I would recommend for new users.

In short, if you run a Mac and manage multiple sites and have need for a solid FTP workhorse, you can’t beat Transmit 4.0. Its feature set and performance is like no other FTP app I’ve used. If you only occasionally FTP, however, my recommendation is to use a free app like CyberDuck.


These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Klas
    April 28, 2010 at 7:13 am

    You should really give path finder a try.
    It’s essentially an upgraded, customizable finder with built-in well-working FTP and some other file-moving protocols.

    Seriously, it’s really, really, REALLY good.

    I’ve been surprised for years that apple hasn’t bought them and uses it instead of finder.

    • krishna
      April 28, 2010 at 7:16 am

      hi Klas – yes, I’ve used Path Finder – it’s nice in a lot of ways, but despite it’s feature set, PF always feels (to me) less responsive than the Finder. I have an on-and-off relationship with PF – I’ll use it, like it, get irked by a quirk, then move back to Finder.

      • Klas
        April 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

        Ah, for me it’s one of the two things I miss most when sitting in windows.

        The other is nautilus for linux.

        I really miss a good file manager in windows ;)

  • Sam
    April 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Krishna, interesting read I’ve always used filezilla as it’s fast and does the job but I’ll have to look at this. Question – what icon set do you use for your drives, they look sweet!


  • iKode
    April 28, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    @klas: I have to agree with krishna , although Path Finder is a very capable Finder… it’s just a bit too much, and feels slow.

    I currently use Transmit at work and I do like it. Although one thing I dont like is if you are uploading a lot of files and something goes wrong it will quit the whole session. It doesnt store the session for a later time or even let you know what went wrong.

    Normally I upload a large quantity and walk away to come back to an error , which means I have to upload little chunks at a time.

    Thanks for the write up on transmit. I was not aware a new version was out.

  • krishna
    April 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks everyone for the feedback on my article! I’m looking forward to writing more reviews (both hardware *and* software) in the near future. That’s all I can say right now. :)