I had been doing this

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

but it doesn't work in Mojave

/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist: No such file or directory

How can I start an ftp server on my MacBook?


Removed by Apple

Apple removed the included File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server from recent versions of macOS. FTP is not secure by default and better avoided.

FTP is not secure because the connection is not encrypted. Modern network protocols are encrypted by default – even on local networks.

Replacements and Alternatives

If you need to regularly transfer files, consider Syncthing. Otherwise, installing and running your own ftp server is still possible through projects like brew.

See quick to install and set up FTP server on homebrew for macOS for various ftp server choices.

  • In what way is it not secure? I literally just wanted to send some audio files from my windows PC to my Mac, on my home local network. – theonlygusti Jun 8 at 13:22
  • I have updated the answer to mention encryption, a reasonable alternative, and added a link to the brew project. – Graham Miln Jun 8 at 14:00
  • Suggest you switch to sftp which provides security. /usr/bin/sftp ( I'm running 10.10.5, but I heard sftp is around in later releases. ) – historystamp Jun 8 at 18:50
  • /usr/bin/sftp is present in macOS 10.14. – Graham Miln Jun 8 at 19:38
  • @theonlygusti FTP is insecure because it sends passwords on the control channel in clear text. It is insecure because anyone with access to the data channel can capture verbatim whatever files you transfer, those files not being encrypted. It has nothing to do with it being "only" on your local home network. – Marc Wilson Jun 8 at 23:41

I wanted to use an FTP server just to share files to and from my Mac.

The easiest solution is to run this python script within the directory I want to share/upload from/to:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

"""Simple HTTP Server With Upload.

This module builds on BaseHTTPServer by implementing the standard GET
and HEAD requests in a fairly straightforward manner.

see: https://gist.github.com/UniIsland/3346170

__version__ = "0.1"
__all__ = ["SimpleHTTPRequestHandler"]
__author__ = ""
__home_page__ = ""

import os
import posixpath
import http.server
import urllib.request, urllib.parse, urllib.error
import cgi
import shutil
import mimetypes
import re
from io import BytesIO

class SimpleHTTPRequestHandler(http.server.BaseHTTPRequestHandler):

    """Simple HTTP request handler with GET/HEAD/POST commands.

    This serves files from the current directory and any of its
    subdirectories.  The MIME type for files is determined by
    calling the .guess_type() method. And can reveive file uploaded
    by client.

    The GET/HEAD/POST requests are identical except that the HEAD
    request omits the actual contents of the file.


    server_version = "SimpleHTTPWithUpload/" + __version__

    def do_GET(self):
        """Serve a GET request."""
        f = self.send_head()
        if f:
            self.copyfile(f, self.wfile)

    def do_HEAD(self):
        """Serve a HEAD request."""
        f = self.send_head()
        if f:

    def do_POST(self):
        """Serve a POST request."""
        r, info = self.deal_post_data()
        print((r, info, "by: ", self.client_address))
        f = BytesIO()
        f.write(b'<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN">')
        f.write(b"<html>\n<title>Upload Result Page</title>\n")
        f.write(b"<body>\n<h2>Upload Result Page</h2>\n")
        if r:
        f.write(("<br><a href=\"%s\">back</a>" % self.headers['referer']).encode())
        f.write(b"<hr><small>Powerd By: bones7456")
        length = f.tell()
        self.send_header("Content-type", "text/html")
        self.send_header("Content-Length", str(length))
        if f:
            self.copyfile(f, self.wfile)

    def deal_post_data(self):
        uploaded_files = []
        content_type = self.headers['content-type']
        if not content_type:
            return (False, "Content-Type header doesn't contain boundary")
        boundary = content_type.split("=")[1].encode()
        remainbytes = int(self.headers['content-length'])
        line = self.rfile.readline()
        remainbytes -= len(line)
        if not boundary in line:
            return (False, "Content NOT begin with boundary")
        while remainbytes > 0:
            line = self.rfile.readline()
            remainbytes -= len(line)
            fn = re.findall(r'Content-Disposition.*name="file"; filename="(.*)"', line.decode())
            if not fn:
                return (False, "Can't find out file name...")
            path = self.translate_path(self.path)
            fn = os.path.join(path, fn[0])
            line = self.rfile.readline()
            remainbytes -= len(line)
            line = self.rfile.readline()
            remainbytes -= len(line)
                out = open(fn, 'wb')
            except IOError:
                return (False, "Can't create file to write, do you have permission to write?")
                with out:                    
                    preline = self.rfile.readline()
                    remainbytes -= len(preline)
                    while remainbytes > 0:
                        line = self.rfile.readline()
                        remainbytes -= len(line)
                        if boundary in line:
                            preline = preline[0:-1]
                            if preline.endswith(b'\r'):
                                preline = preline[0:-1]
                            preline = line
        return (True, "File '%s' upload success!" % ",".join(uploaded_files))

    def send_head(self):
        """Common code for GET and HEAD commands.

        This sends the response code and MIME headers.

        Return value is either a file object (which has to be copied
        to the outputfile by the caller unless the command was HEAD,
        and must be closed by the caller under all circumstances), or
        None, in which case the caller has nothing further to do.

        path = self.translate_path(self.path)
        f = None
        if os.path.isdir(path):
            if not self.path.endswith('/'):
                # redirect browser - doing basically what apache does
                self.send_header("Location", self.path + "/")
                return None
            for index in "index.html", "index.htm":
                index = os.path.join(path, index)
                if os.path.exists(index):
                    path = index
                return self.list_directory(path)
        ctype = self.guess_type(path)
            # Always read in binary mode. Opening files in text mode may cause
            # newline translations, making the actual size of the content
            # transmitted *less* than the content-length!
            f = open(path, 'rb')
        except IOError:
            self.send_error(404, "File not found")
            return None
        self.send_header("Content-type", ctype)
        fs = os.fstat(f.fileno())
        self.send_header("Content-Length", str(fs[6]))
        self.send_header("Last-Modified", self.date_time_string(fs.st_mtime))
        return f

    def list_directory(self, path):
        """Helper to produce a directory listing (absent index.html).

        Return value is either a file object, or None (indicating an
        error).  In either case, the headers are sent, making the
        interface the same as for send_head().

            list = os.listdir(path)
        except os.error:
            self.send_error(404, "No permission to list directory")
            return None
        list.sort(key=lambda a: a.lower())
        f = BytesIO()
        displaypath = cgi.escape(urllib.parse.unquote(self.path))
        f.write(b'<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN">')
        f.write(("<html>\n<title>Directory listing for %s</title>\n" % displaypath).encode())
        f.write(("<body>\n<h2>Directory listing for %s</h2>\n" % displaypath).encode())
        f.write(b"<form ENCTYPE=\"multipart/form-data\" method=\"post\">")
        f.write(b"<input name=\"file\" type=\"file\" multiple/>")
        f.write(b"<input type=\"submit\" value=\"upload\"/></form>\n")
        for name in list:
            fullname = os.path.join(path, name)
            displayname = linkname = name
            # Append / for directories or @ for symbolic links
            if os.path.isdir(fullname):
                displayname = name + "/"
                linkname = name + "/"
            if os.path.islink(fullname):
                displayname = name + "@"
                # Note: a link to a directory displays with @ and links with /
            f.write(('<li><a href="%s">%s</a>\n'
                    % (urllib.parse.quote(linkname), cgi.escape(displayname))).encode())
        length = f.tell()
        self.send_header("Content-type", "text/html")
        self.send_header("Content-Length", str(length))
        return f

    def translate_path(self, path):
        """Translate a /-separated PATH to the local filename syntax.

        Components that mean special things to the local file system
        (e.g. drive or directory names) are ignored.  (XXX They should
        probably be diagnosed.)

        # abandon query parameters
        path = path.split('?',1)[0]
        path = path.split('#',1)[0]
        path = posixpath.normpath(urllib.parse.unquote(path))
        words = path.split('/')
        words = [_f for _f in words if _f]
        path = os.getcwd()
        for word in words:
            drive, word = os.path.splitdrive(word)
            head, word = os.path.split(word)
            if word in (os.curdir, os.pardir): continue
            path = os.path.join(path, word)
        return path

    def copyfile(self, source, outputfile):
        """Copy all data between two file objects.

        The SOURCE argument is a file object open for reading
        (or anything with a read() method) and the DESTINATION
        argument is a file object open for writing (or
        anything with a write() method).

        The only reason for overriding this would be to change
        the block size or perhaps to replace newlines by CRLF
        -- note however that this the default server uses this
        to copy binary data as well.

        shutil.copyfileobj(source, outputfile)

    def guess_type(self, path):
        """Guess the type of a file.

        Argument is a PATH (a filename).

        Return value is a string of the form type/subtype,
        usable for a MIME Content-type header.

        The default implementation looks the file's extension
        up in the table self.extensions_map, using application/octet-stream
        as a default; however it would be permissible (if
        slow) to look inside the data to make a better guess.


        base, ext = posixpath.splitext(path)
        if ext in self.extensions_map:
            return self.extensions_map[ext]
        ext = ext.lower()
        if ext in self.extensions_map:
            return self.extensions_map[ext]
            return self.extensions_map['']

    if not mimetypes.inited:
        mimetypes.init() # try to read system mime.types
    extensions_map = mimetypes.types_map.copy()
        '': 'application/octet-stream', # Default
        '.py': 'text/plain',
        '.c': 'text/plain',
        '.h': 'text/plain',

def test(HandlerClass = SimpleHTTPRequestHandler,
         ServerClass = http.server.HTTPServer):
    http.server.test(HandlerClass, ServerClass)

if __name__ == '__main__':

It creates a web page on port 8000 which I can upload files to (they get dropped into the directory the script is run from), and download files from (that directory).

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