Review: Captain FTP 4.5

A fast powerful FTP client (May 12th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Xnet Communications GmbH

Price: $25.00 US Download only

The Good

  • Full featured FTP program. Multiple Mac, WAN, LAN support. Advanced Connection support. Good email support and helpful online forum. Universal Binary and Tiger compatible.

The Bad

  • Clunky unattractive user interface. Need to read manual to use at first. No discount upgrade pricing from previous versions.

With Apple's introduction of iWeb, as part of iLife '06, many Mac users are discovering how simple and easy it is to create a website and have their own little space on the Internet. iWeb easily integrates into the $99 per year .Mac account, but many users find it more simple and cheaper to use their Internet service provider's web space or buy their own domain name and hosting services. Either way, you need to put your beautiful site on the Internet for the world to see. Enter Captain FTP.

Captain FTP is a simple File Transfer Protocol application that allows your computer to talk to another computer to transfer files back and forth. The crew at Xnet Communications didn't stop at just simple transfers, but added useful features for an individual with multiple Macs or a company with a Local Intranet, local network (LAN), or Wide Area Network (WAN). In February, Xnet overhauled the guts of the program for speed and Tiger compatibility.

Interface Issues

The Captain FTP interface seems similar to other popular FTP programs, with a double pane tabbed view in its Browser window. Your files appear under the My Mac tab and the remote computer files appear in the other pane, after you set your preferences. At first launch after registering, I was thrown into a default double pane view that had both windows showing the My Mac tab, which is great if I want to move files around on my hard drive, but clunky as the default interface for a FTP program. To connect to the remote location you must click on the Connect text in the Toolbar that opens a pane where you can enter your FTP information. You can also click the Connect button, which looks like a power plug.

Address Book Features

Captain FTP stores your FTP and server locations in an Address Book, which is not related to your Mac's Address book, but a Captain FTP only address book. After the initial confusion on the name, I found this to be a handy item because it uses Mac OS X's built-in Bonjour connection to share Address Book data with other Macs on the Bonjour network. It also uses Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger's spotlight capability to find files fast and easily.

Synchronize Files

One of the program's strong features is syncing files. The Captain FTP creators were thinking about more than uploading pages and files to the Internet. In the Remote menu is the option to Connect to Remote Captain FTP. You then have several options to overwrite or replace files based on variables you choose from a drop down menu. This is ideal for those sharing files on a LAN Server or Wide Area Network (WAN connects via remote computers IP Address).

The Sync Browsing feature is a great time saver for those who update sites on a regular basis. Once you open a folder in the My Mac browser window, simply click the Sync Browsing button and the same folder opens in the Remote pane (as long as the two are somewhat similar).

Although today's e-mail clients are much better at handling large files than they were years ago, sometimes files are just not practical for e-mail. Captain FTP has something called Accelerated Download where a large file is broken into segments and downloaded in parallel and then reassembles them when complete. This feature radically speeds up downloads times for everyone. It is very beneficial for those who need to transfer large video files.

As mentioned above, all the FTP locations, favorites, and info are bookmarked in the Captain FTP Address Book. The Address Book Toolbar has logical options, such as New, Edit, Delete, Delete, and Sort. A Details button allows you to see info on a file or folder. There is also an Import feature for those moving from another FTP program, such as Fetch, Transmit, or CuteFTP, which imports your saved favorites with a few clicks. I imported my Transmit Favs without a hitch, although the saved passwords did not import which may be a good thing for security sake. Another cool Address Book feature is that it allows you to view the passwords, so no more trips to the Keychain Access to search for a saved password.

Transfer Manager

Other useful features include the Transfer Manager, which includes the ability to schedule file transfers for times when your network connection is less active, Spotlight search integration, and Captain FTP Widget for the Dashboard that allows quick uploads directly from the Finder. In addition to email support from the developers, an active support forum is also available for questions and help above and beyond the built in help files.

Universal Application

Overall, Captain FTP falls right in the middle of the spectrum of the two most popular Macintosh FTP applications. After you get used to the clunky interface, it works a lot like my favorite FTP client Transmit. Captain FTP matches Transmit feature for feature, and almost equals in ease of use. It also brings to the table some of the functionality of Fetch with support for advanced connections and Bonjour support of multiple computers. The most recent version 4.5 is Universal Binary for the new Intel Macs. The company also offers an Upgrade Protection program for an additional $20 that includes 12 months of free upgrades to assure that Captain FTP will work with the next generation of the Mac OS when it is released, hopefully this year.

Xnet Crow's Nest Logo

Editor's Note: Xnet has also developed a free, time-saving, application, called CrowzNest. According to their marketing, "it allows users to automatically upload files to a remote folder if a new file or an existing file is changed in the local Hot Folder." CrowzNest requires Captain FTP 4.4 or greater to make the transfer. This product was not tested for this the review.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Art Payne


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