Transmit 5 review: File transfer utility expands support for cloud services

File-transfer programs seem like a vestige of the internet that once was. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is one of the oldest of the internet’s standards, and it’s still in broad use. But our need to shift files around among servers we control or those run by others hasn’t decreased a bit. So many companies offer cloud-based storage and sync that you may be drowning in a multiplicity of options. For that, Panic’s updated Transmit 5 can help clear the fog away.

Transmit lets you connect your Mac via several internet file-exchange protocols and to most cloud-storage services. You can copy files either to and from your Mac or between servers or services you bring up in side-by-side windows. It also offers a modestly featured synchronization option, and an option to mount certain kinds of servers and services as Finder volumes. The interface has a refreshing new look that adopts and extends the style of the Transmit iOS app. (That app was released first in 2014 and Panic has regularly updated it since.)

transmit5 favorites and listing IDG

Transmit offers a crisp way to connect to servers or load local files.

Moving files around

In the simplest use of Transmit, you connect to a remote server (more on that in a bit) in either or both the lefthand and righthand side of a transfer window. You drag files in or out of that pane, delete them, or rename them. With cloud-based servers that offer a variety of access and storage policies, Transmit 5 exposes different and useful controls that otherwise require using a control panel at the cloud-service site, if it’s even available. (Some cloud services only expose certain features via an API, requiring third-party software to manage.)

For example, Amazon S3 offers different tiers of storage, from frequently used files that are modestly priced to store but cheap to transfer, to seldom-used items that are cheap to store and relatively expensive to transfer. Transmit lets you select any file and change the storage class, but you can’t select multiple files and change that property all at once. You can also set server-side encryption options for S3 within Transmit, which wasn’t available in version 4.

The Files tab in Transmit’s preferences lets you set a global preference for what happens when you double-click a file: it transfers to your computer’s default download location, edits in Transmit (for supported file types), or uses an external editor. You use that tab to enter an extension and pair it with an app you pick, like linking text files and BBEdit. (With some server/protocol types, you can also use a Transmit Disk, which I will explain later.)

Because Transmit is aimed fairly reasonably at people who wind up working directly with files a lot—why else use a file-transfer program with this kind of control?—Transmit handles the behind-the-scenes details for downloading the file to a temporary location, passes it to the editor, and uploading changes as you save or modify the file in the editor.

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Transmit offers side-by-side local and remote file listings for transfers and examination.

Transmit has a wealth of other preferences, such as inserting custom file header to cloud uploads to cloud services. This seems wonky, but it’s a way of making sure a given type of file has proper identification on the server side. For example, at one point, Amazon S3 required JavaScript files also added a Content-type: text/javascript header during uploads, or it would only identify the file as text to browsers, which caused websites to load incorrectly.

You can also use the Rules preferences to avoid downloading file listings (skip), not show them (hide), or force their appearance (show) in overriding over rules. That’s the same preference tab where you can preset upload permissions for FTP/SFTP, webDAV, and S3.

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