I use OS X for development and I want to push changes to dev server on every ⌘+S.
When I check out a different branch, I want the local folder to update accordingly.

So I figured I need an automatic, two-way sync solution.

My editor of choice is Sublime Text (which is awesome, you totally should check it out).
I began my quest with Sublime Text SFTP plugin by Will Bond but found it unstable and slow.

Then I attacked the problem with Panic Transmit.
It is stunningly beautiful. However, it didn't help me either.

Transmit offers two options:

  • two-way sync between local and remote folder;
  • mount SFTP to the filesystem.

Alas, its two-way sync is manual and has to be invoked by pressing a button.
(I could probably get around this by writing some clever AppleScript—but I don't know it.)

SFTP mounting is great—unfortunately, it has major disadvantages: file searching is predictably slow and there seems to be no way to tell Transmit that files have changed on server. You need to unmount and mount again to see the remote changes. This makes branches impossible to work with.

I'm really confused now and I don't feel like wasting a couple of hours on a wrong solution. I'm open to suggestions for a tool to improve my workflow.

Here's what I found so far. I'm not sure any of those can actually watch remote folder for changes.

Note that I'm looking for a solution that works out of the box. I don't want a tool that can't handle new/changed/deleted files or folders without fiddling with its source code.

  • Why not just use a good IDE that can help you doing this? Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 6:13
  • Secure Shellfish on iOS?
    – HappyFace
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 14:43

5 Answers 5


Old question, but here's my answer:

I use a Unix tool called Unison. This is a command-line tool that allows for two way sync.

The good is that it's highly configurable: ignore certain file names, directories, synchronize multiple folders, which side wins in a conflict, many other things.

The bad is that you have to not be scared of the command line and both the server and the client have to have Unison installed; both installations need to be the same version and built with the same version of OCAML.

But I've been using it multiple times an hour every work day for the past year and it's been awesome -- it's really fast, really easy to fire off from the command line.


Have you considered using something like Git? Hosting the files on GitHub or setting up your own git server.

This should help: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/455698/best-visual-client-for-git-on-mac-os-x

  • 1
    I do use Git, however I don't have a running environment on my laptop so in order to test each smallest change I have to do a commit and push. This makes commit history meaningless and is somewhat tedious, although this is exactly what I'm doing now, with ST2 & Github for Mac making the experience slightly more fun and less painful.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 1:37
  • 1
    Do either of these help? stackoverflow.com/questions/2275010/… or stackoverflow.com/questions/5054174/…
    – afragen
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 2:48
  • I'll definitely take a look at these questions, thanks a ton.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 2:59

The following AppleScript allows you to sync a remote folder with a local folder using Transmit


Unfortunately, it appears to default to syncing the remote folder with the local, and what I want is the opposite: to download updated files from the server onto my computer.

  • ^ github page returns 404
    – f01
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 9:06

A very old question, but maybe my own answer helps. I also used SublimeText (I think I've still got it somewhere) because I like the way it opens files so fast — especially on older Macs. However, for more serious work, a better IDE would definitely fit your requirements better.

Since you're fine in acquiring new/different software, give Panic's Coda a try. You already liked Transmit, which is also a product from Panic. Coda sits between SublimeText and super-sophisticated IDEs like, say, Eclipse, and it can do pretty much what you wish — keep folders in sync between your local computer and the remote server, publish and sync on demand, and, additionally, keep your local data also in sync with GitHub, Google Code, or any other popular versioning system based on either Git or SVN.

Coda suffered a bit from performance in the past (namely in rendering code in colour when fast-scrolling), but current versions have been completely revamped and are almost as fast as SublimeText. It's also plugin-based — the PHP/JavaScript/HTML validation plugin is a must, since Coda's internal code validation features are not stellar in comparison. And, these days, you can use your Transmit server settings on Coda and vice-versa, as well as on any iOS device you might own, via their clever apps which sync the settings among themselves.

This almost sounds like propaganda for Panic... I wouldn't have mentioned Coda if you hadn't mentioned Transmit!


Another option is Mountain Duck. It definitely works out of the box. I was seeking a utility that does what I think you're looking for. I have a remote web server that is running sshd and the web application server. I am also using Sublime Text to edit the components of the web application located on that server. I was using Transmit just like you were, and I was encountering the same problem: I needed to manually run it to perform the sync. It was not automated easily. Here is how I have this setup with Mountain Duck:

First, I have a "bookmark" in Mountain Duck's lingo. This roughly corresponds to the same information that one places in Transmit's configuration to connect to the remote server.

Bookmark Configuration

You then navigate to Mountain Duck's menu, find the new bookmark entry, and select "Connect" from the submenu. The remote directory specified in the configuration then opens as an ejectable Finder location.

Finder Location

I can then drag any of the items in that folder that I wish to edit into Sublime Text and make the changes that I want. When I hit save, the changes are automatically sync'ed with the mounted directory on the remote server.

Remote Document in Sublime Text

This has, so far, satisfied my requirements for sync'ing the files. The development server that I'm using, Django, is able to sense that a file has changed when I save it and it is then sync'ed. The server then automatically restarts and I can immediately see the updated change in my browser.

Details about what those icons in the new Finder window mean as far as sync status can be seen in the documentation.

  • 1
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