January 6, 2003

ftp:osx

Tonight I stumbled onto an OS X feature I didn't know about: Finder FTP access.

Turns out you can mount read-only FTP servers on your desktop just like any other server by hitting CMD-K from the Finder and typing your ftp address into the address field using the following format:

ftp://your_ftp_server.com/
Not sure which version of OS X introduced this feature; apparently in pre-Jaguar systems if you access password protected sites and are not prompted for the unap, you can supply the unap in the uri like so:
ftp://username:[email protected]_ftp_server.com/

FTP servers mounted this way appear to the Finder just like any other mounted volume with the exception that you cannot write to the server, but only read from it.

An interesting and useful result of this marriage of Finder and FTP server is that you can search for files across your mounted ftp volume. From the Finder, open your Find... dialog and select the mounted FTP volume on which you'd like to perform your search. You can also quickly open commonly accessed ftp folders by dragging them to your Finder Favorites. Neat stuff, let's hope that future releases of OS X will also allow uploading.

Posted by Lewis Francis at January 6, 2003 12:35 AM
Comments

Another nice feature of Finder & FTP integration allows mounting a website server to your desktop and then using your browser to preview pages on that server, albeit slowly, presumably as the OS needs to translate the page contents into FTP commands in order to fetch each page component.

Here's how this came in handy for me just today:

In preparation for moving a web site over to a new server, I needed to browse, identify & document client areas that were protected by individual unap. A complete list of unap didn't exist yet and so some of these areas were off-limits to me via http, so I wasn't sure what they contained or to whom they belonged.

However, as I did have the ftp unap, I mounted the server as a Finder volume and then simply browsed to the areas I had questions about, opened the pages locally in my browser, and was then able to identify the client job and assigned project manager. To do the same using a regular ftp program would have taken much longer as I'd have first needed to download entire directories before I could browse and identify the sites they contained.

OS X's column list and thumbnail view also rocks for this kind of thing. Can you tell that I'm enamored of this feature, yet? ;)

Posted by: Lewis Francis at January 7, 2003 11:10 PM

but how can i mount a ftp directory with write access?
normal procedure does not work.
any hints?

Posted by: ray at February 5, 2003 11:28 AM

Sadly, the current implementation doesn't support uploading to a FTP site. I suspect this is why Apple hasn't been trumpeting this functionality.

Everyone who would find this feature useful should use Apple's feedback mechanism to make their views known. Thanks for reminding me to do that, Ray.

Posted by: Lewis Francis at February 5, 2003 12:06 PM

That is super cool!

I only wish I could upload like that too...

john

btw -- i just came across your site while looking up some arcane tech info on video compression and flash mx... this is a great site for sure... you da' man!

Posted by: john at February 9, 2003 5:30 AM

Thanks for this info. I've had nothing but server timeouts trying to download from FTP directories within Safari, and just about every other browser I've used.

This helps immensely!

Posted by: Daniel Trout at May 4, 2003 10:26 AM
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