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Fetch: Transferring Files for Over a Decade

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Reviews

Fetch: Transferring Files for Over a Decade

One of my oft-used apps

by Vicki Brown

File Transfer with FTP

Mac OS X provides many choices for transferring files, using FTP and other protocols. Command line tools include curl, fetch, and ftp; GUI-based applications include Fetch (no relation to the command line tool), Interarchy, MacSFTP, and RBrowser. I've tried (and occasionally used) most of the aforementioned tools. However, for general use and drag&drop simplicity, my tool of choice has always been Fetch.

Originally created for internal use by Dartmouth College, Fetch has been available as Mac OS shareware for over a decade. Two years ago, Fetch's author purchased the rights from Dartmouth College, making Fetch an independent product, still shareware. Fetch 4.0 is a Carbon application, providing FTP support under both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.

Fetch 4.0 includes all of the expected features of an FTP client, presented in a straightforward interface that mimics the Finder's "list view". Using Fetch is as simple as pressing a button (specifically, the "Get..." and "Put..." buttons). Even simpler, just grab a file and drag it into (or out of) the Fetch window. Files can even be transferred between servers by dragging between Fetch windows; there's no need to save a temporary copy on the local disk.

Fetch claims the distinction of being the first Mac OS FTP client to resume downloads; in version 4.0, that functionality is available even after a crash or quit in mid-transfer. In the "set it and forget it" category, Fetch's "Automatic" transfer mode includes sophisticated logic to choose the appropriate file format or transfer mode ("raw/binary" mode or "text" mode). I've found that "automatic" usually guesses correctly.

Fetch provides many useful features beyond simple Get and Put of files. These include mirror transfers (synchronizing a desktop folder with the server in one command), file management capabilities (creation, deletion, and renaming of remote files and directories from the Fetch window), "Get Info..." and "Set Permissions..." commands for remote files and directories, and easily maintainable lists of shortcuts to commonly used servers.

One of my favorite features is the way Fetch handles URLs. If you paste an FTP URL (e.g. ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/Manuals) into the "New Connection" dialog, Fetch automatically does the right thing, stripping off the "ftp://" prefix and pasting the host name and initial directory into the appropriate fields of the dialog.

If you're concerned about security, or need to use FTP from behind a firewall, Fetch offers many options. These include proxy servers, keychain, Kerberos, One-Time Passwords, and the ability to respond to "challenge" systems.

Fetch is free for use by students, educators, and tax-exempt charitable organizations. A single-user license for other users costs $25; multiple-license packages are also available. For more information, see the Fetch web site (www.fetchsoftworks.com).


Vicki Brown

 

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