I need the smallest and easiest FTP server just to grab some files during development.

Homebrew has a discrete selection brew search ftp but I'm unsure which is the quickest to setup.

I don't want to use the builtin FTP server.

Any recommendations?


4 Answers 4


As of writing, brew search ftp returns the following FTP servers:

  • pure-ftpd
  • vsftpd
  • proftpd

Based on their websites, pure-ftpd appears to be your best choice for easy installation.


Beginners can install a Pure-FTPd server in 5 minutes. It can be as simple as installing the package, typing pure-ftpd & and… that’s all. You already have a running server, and clients can start to connect.

So for the two step, install and set to start each boot commands:

brew install pure-ftpd
brew services start pure-ftpd


vsftpd is a GPL licensed FTP server for UNIX systems, including Linux. It is secure and extremely fast. It is stable.


ProFTPD grew out of the desire to have a secure and configurable FTP server, and out of a significant admiration of the Apache web server.

  • How to download file after installation
    – nil96
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 11:15
  • @nil96 please ask a new question. A new question will attract attention and hopefully answers. Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 12:12

Strange that no one mentioned the simplest way, which is to just load the built-in FTP server:

sudo -s launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist

It does work fine in 10.12 Sierra. However, it might not be available anymore in 10.13 High Sierra.

  • 2
    Agreed. I get the OP has reasons for not wanting to use the supplied FTP server. However, a reminder how easy to enable it is quite helpful and worth a +1
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 21, 2018 at 12:06
  • 5
    This has disabled in 10.14 Mojave
    – rocLv
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 1:41

Google brought me to this answer, so thought I would update with my findings. I use ftp-srv on node which is very quick to set up and run on the command line ftp-srv [url] [options] and can serve from a directory of your choice.


Well, I do have OSX Mojave, and I ended up doing this:

brew install inetutils

and it worked perfectly. Hope it helps!

  • I did this, but could not find out how to setup an ftp server on my mac. I need this to test my ftp based installation procedure for a particular project.
    – Bernhard
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 8:52
  • 3
    I believe this installs the FTP client, but not the server. Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 11:36
  • i see ... even the thread title talks about a server :-) thanks
    – Bernhard
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 14:09

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