Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why is there no WinSCP for the Mac?

Ever since Mac OSX came out, I understood that the Mac is the dream machine for software developers. It's a UNIX like system with a great GUI built on top of it. But how come then that even after I've owned an iMac for a few months, I find myself hardly doing any development work on it?

I try to do my personal development work on the iMac. And recently I even found it quite nice for developing a Java application that's been in my head for a few years now. But most of the development work I do at home is not Java work, it's web development work. And for that I still find myself behind my trusty old Windows XP laptop.

The reason for that is that I do most work through the remote editing feature of WinSCP. For those of you that don't know that program: it provides a Norton Commander style (dual pane) interface, with one pane being the local system and the other a remote system. Like a remote web server. And with a single key press you can open any remote file in a very simple local text editor, make a few changes and then save the file back. Their embedded editor might not be the most feature rich IDE, but it just works, it's there when I need it and apparently it's good enough for me to get the job done with.

But then why doesn't a WinSCP exists for the Mac? I know it's called WinSCP, so it's for Windows. But the Mac must have something similar, right? Well, similar yes... On the Mac there is Fugu, which at first sight seems similar. But it's completely not the same for my case.

Fugu doesn't come with a built-in editor and to me that makes a lot of a difference. They chose to integrate with existing editors instead. Which wouldn't be a problem, if they'd actually integrate with the standard OSX editor: TextEdit. But they don't. Instead they offer a whole list of more or lesser known editors, from BBEdit via TextMate to VI and emacs.

Unfortunately I don't have about 75% of the editors Fugu does integrate with. TextMate sounds great, but I haven't bought it yet as I'll need to invest some time to learn to appreciate it. And for the editors that I do have and that Fugu supports, their integration doesn't work. Now if it doesn't work for those editors, do I want to risk installing yet another editor on my system to find out if the integration works there? Well apparently I don't.

While typing this I already noticed that there are of course more options than just Fugu. There's Cyberduck, apparently Krusader also is nice and Disk Order sounds perfect if it would support SCP/SFTP. So I have some options ahead of me. But until I invest the time and find something that works at least as well as WinSCP, my development work on the Mac is limited to Java applications.

--- January 21, 2008 - Frank van Puffelen ---

I might have finally found my WinSCP replacement. Read more about it here.


Anonymous said...

i hear ya brotha!

i'm a recent convert from the dark side. and i've been told many times that the transition period is tough for some people, but 99% of the time you will find a suitable mac replacement for all your "must-have" windows software.

well winscp is in that elusive 1%

i've never used the remote editing feature. but i can't live without the sync directories feature! so much that i run an XP virtual machine just for this one progam!!

cyberduck + fugu = about 5% of the functionality that comes with winscp.

gahhh. until i rid myself of this problem, i cannot call myself a true maccie. or mac head. or macamian. or whatever it is they call themselves :P

Frank said...

Hi Joey,

Good to see I'm not the only one experiencing this specific problem. I also use the WinSCP synchronization functionality extensively, but hadn't missed it as much as the editor integration.

Using Parallels and XP for running WinSCP hadn't occurred to me yet. I might give that a go once I have the licensing bit for XP figured out. :-/

In the meantime I'll give fugu a go next time I'm using the Mac for updating my web sites. It doesn't have the dual panes, but it might make up for that with other features.


Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. It would be nice if someone would port WinSCP to Mac. But, in the absence, Fugu (at least what I downloaded) does have dual panes, and the Smultron editor is both decent and free. I will still eagerly awain MacSCP...

Anonymous said...

Just found filezilla - still doesnt cut the mustard when you considder winscp... looks like the doom of virtualising is the only option....

Anonymous said...

ok - i think i found something almost as good as winscp -

it features sync and folder size calculation - deifnately a stp on from fugu...

Anonymous said...

Yes! FileZilla 3.0+ now runs on Mac OS X . for Both intel and PowerPC platforms.

Check it out;

Anonymous said...

First point, web developers editing files directly on the server is wrong on so many levels. Have you never heard of version control? SVN?

Second point, and just a personal preference really, but WinSCP is one of the single worst pieces of software I've ever had the misfortune to use. I pine for Transmit whenever I'm forced to use it.

Anonymous said...

have you ever heard of remote editing?
At my workplace, we do not have the files in our local systems (read security) so we have to edit the files in the development server.
One option is to connect and remotely work, but th better alternative is to use winscp, click on the remote file, edit locally with your own editor of choice and then save (yes just save) your file and test the change in the remote server :-) I love it!
I will check out filezilla since I want to do my work from the mac

Anonymous said...

oh and once we check the code works, we check in to SVN :-)

Frank said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the comments.

Although Filezilla is a fine basic file transfer program, I really fell for Coda by Panic (of Transmit fame). Granted, the price is a bit high. But once you've started using it, there is no going back. You can read my initial findings at


Unknown said...

I use CyberDuck! google it!

Anonymous said...

For the life of me I can't get Cyberduck to work with my EC2 instances.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Matt is right.

You can use the Cyberduck FTP client.
It is freeware and has full support of SFTP/SSH Data transfer.

Markus Zeller


Brian said...

EvilTwin, you're a prime example of why Mac fanboys have such a bad name.

Seriously, here's a translation of your post:

"You're wrong to even WANT remote editing (because I'm incorrectly assuming you're talking about Production servers)! And WinSCP sucks too!"

WTF? Why couldn't you just post "Transmit is a good Mac client for remote editing". Geez.

Cellistics said...

Bless your heart! I was cursing my macbook pro because I no longer have access to winscp when I found your post. I just installed CODA and am in love! I actually like it better so far and will be buying it.

Anonymous said...

I just found a client at

I did not have any problem with it so far, but will see.

Frank said...

Hi Anonymous,

I settled on Codam, by the makers of Transmit. Coda adds a lot of features, including (at the time of buying) the ability to edit files remotely.


Achromatic said...

I know this post is old but I just wanted to let other people know that you can run WinSCP under Wine with little to no hassle. There are even tutorials on youtube if you don't want to figure it out for yourself. I hope this helps.