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Remote Copy on Mac OS

Copy with Finder

Copying files from the remote host to Mac OS computer is a quite straightforward task when you do it using Mac OS Finder. Open Network location in the Finder sidebar, click on the computer you want to copy the file from and find it in one of its shared folders (make sure that the file is shared by the remote computer). When the file is selected right-click on the selection and choose “Copy Items” in the pop-up menu. After that navigate to the target folder in the same or different Finder window and right click on the place where you want to paste your files. Select “Paste Items” from the pop-up menu in order for the copy procedure to start.

Copying files from the remote location using Finder is very easy but there are certain limitations to it. Large amounts of data may be problematic to copy because when connection is dropped the copy process is interrupted and needs to be restarted from the beginning.

Copy with rsync

Rsync is a command line utility which was specifically developed to enable remote copy and synchronization of large number of files. In contrast with Mac OS Finder rsync supports recovery of the interrupted copying process. It also has detailed progress, error reporting, and supports copying over ssh. Below is an example of rsync command to copy files from /home/folder1 on remote “host” to local /home/folder2 folder.

sudo rsync -azvP user@host:/home/folder1/ /home/folder2

Following options are used in the rsync command above:

  • -v – verbose
  • -z – compress during transfer
  • -P or --partial with --progress – enable partial copy and only files that were not yet copied

Copy with scp

Scp is useful when it is necessary to copy files from the remote host using secure connection. It is great for everyday use because in comparison with rsync it has fewer options.

Below is an example of scp command copying files from /home/folder1 on a remote “host” to /home/folder2. Scp is slower than rsync but more secure. To make rsync as secure as scp you need to specify --rsh==ssh option.

sudo scp user@host:/home/folder1/ /home/folder2

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