App of the Week – Manage All Your Mac’s Torrents with Transmission
If you run Windows and download torrents, you’re probably running µTorrent. It’s the de facto standard for BitTorrent (BT) clients: lightweight yet full-featured. While a version of µTorrent also exists for Mac OS X, it’s rather lacking in the features department and doesn’t really capture the Mac aesthetic. It’s as if µTorrent’s designers just ported over the code without any real foresight into the user experience. Fortunately, I’ve found something for my Mac that’s just as powerful as µTorrent, yet wrapped up with that slick presentation I’ve come to expect in all my Mac apps. Allow me to introduce Transmission, my pick for this edition of App of the Week!
Platform Availability: Mac OS X 10.5 and up. Also available for Ubuntu and a litany of other Linux distributions.
Cost: $0. Find the download link for your OS here.
What it is: As its website says, Transmission is a fast, easy, and free BitTorrent client. Like any other BT client, it downloads torrents! However, the reason it’s featured on App of the Week is for not only how powerful it is, but also for how great it looks in capturing that Mac design sheen.
What it Does: If you’ve ever downloaded a torrent before, you know that you download the torrent file and open it up in your BT client, or you open the magnet link. Same rules apply for Transmission. On top of that, it’s got a bevy of features you’re about to learn more about.
Features: Selectively Download Files – One of the things I hate most about some other clients is that you have to download the entire contents of a torrent – no picking and choosing allowed. Just like µTorrent, Transmission lets you grab only what you want before you start your download, ensuring you don’t waste any bandwidth on files you don’t want or need.
Encryption – Transmission supports both message stream encryption and protocol encryption. If you’re worried about file sharing anonymity or your ISP throttling your torrents, just turn on encryption.
Web Interface – If you’re the type of person who needs to have complete control over your torrents from anywhere, Transmission’s got the fix for you! Add, pause, or stop your torrents right from your iPhone, Android, or any device with Internet access.
Scheduling – If you want to free up bandwidth during a certain time, you have complete control over the bandwidth available to Transmission at any given time. Just set it up in preferences, then turn it on/off by clicking on the turtle icon!
Dock and Growl Notifications – Transmission hooks into Growl to let you know when a torrent is auto-added/starts and when it finishes. The dock icon lets you know the current up/down speed with big, bold badges that can’t help but put a smile on your face.
Great UX – I can’t say enough about Transmission’s user interface – this is how torrenting on a Mac was meant to be. Let’s start with the great icon – whimsically creative yet subtly nodding toward the app’s functionality. It continues with the main window – eliminating all unnecessary lines and design elements until they’re needed. Unlike µTorrent, Transmission doesn’t include an overload of data at the bottom of your main window. Instead, it dedicates a window called the inspector that captures all the extra information on your torrent, like the file list and the progress of all the torrent’s pieces. Even this transfer progress echoes OS X’s aesthetic, featuring a number of squares that slowly turn blue as you grab each pieces until the entire set of squares turns blue.
The Competition: There’s only one other Mac torrent client worth mentioning.
µTorrent – Free – OS X 10.5 or later
Why the Featured App is Best: The king of torrents on Windows recently received a Mac client about a year ago. While it’s been pretty lackluster until recently, just last week, it received an update with some features that Transmission currently does not have: support for RSS feeds and a new remote interface. However, the fact remains that µTorrent for Mac really is essentially the same µTorrent interface running on OS X. If you want a Mac-like interface to go with your torrenting needs, go with Transmission. However, be sure to keep an eye on µTorrent – if it every catches up to its Windows sibling, it’s going to surpass Transmission with features like real-time streaming and add-on apps.
Summary: If you ever need to download a torrent on your Mac, go with Transmission. As I mentioned before, it’s lightweight, full-featured, and free. While µTorrent competes well on features (and eventually will probably have more), Transmission can’t be matched in terms of aesthetics and ease of use. If you really can’t decide though, I recommend you download both and see for yourself which one you like more!
What are your favorite Transmission features? Are there any Mac torrent apps that you like better than Transmission? Let us know in the comments!