How to use Transmission as your BitTorrent client (macOS)

Please note: While this tutorial was originally published in 2008, it has been updated to be current in 2019.

This tutorial will guide you through the steps to install, setup and use Transmission to download files using BitTorrent.

From the About Transmission page:

Transmission is an open source, volunteer-based project. Transmission is designed for easy, powerful use. We’ve set the defaults to “Just Work” and it only takes a few clicks to configure advanced features like watch directories, bad peer blocklists, and the web interface.

  1. First up – download Transmission. The installation is simple – open the .dmg file and drag Transmission to your Applications folder. Launch it from there.
  2. Transmission will open. Don’t be fooled by it’s fairly simplistic interface – it had a lot of advanced features, and way less bloat than some other BitTorrent programs.
  3. To start downloading a torrent, select File and then Open Torrent File…
  4. Navigate to a .torrent file (probably in your Downloads folder), select it and click Open
  5. A confirmation/information window will pop up. This window lists all of the files that you’ll be downloading as a part of the .torrent. If you remove the check mark next to a file it won’t be included in the download. When you’re ready to start, click the Add button.
  6. The upload and download speeds are displayed in the main Transmission window – along with your current ratio (how much you’ve downloaded:how much you’ve uploaded), the completion percentage, and an estimated time until the download is done. Double-click anywhere in that space.
  7. From here you can review and change some of the settings and options for this specific download. The first section that will be displayed is the General Info. Select the Files icon to view a list of the files that are currently being downloaded (see screenshot below).
  8. Now you can get the exact status on each of the files being downloaded, change the priority of an individual file (or files) and more.
  9. You may have noticed the Transmission icon in your Dock is also displaying some info. The numbers in blue signify your current download speed, the numbers in green represent your upload speed (if someone is downloading from you).
  10. To view and change the Transmission preferences, select Transmission from the menu bar, and then Preferences… from the drop down list.

    The General tab offers exactly what you’d expect – general preferences. Make any changes you see fit – though the defaults are fine.

  11. Click the Bandwidth tab. Here you can set the maximum upload and download speeds you want to use with Transmission. Removing the check marks from Download rate: and Upload rate: will tell Transmission to use the maximum bandwidth your connection allows.

    Another neat feature of Transmission is that you can set bandwidth rates based on the time of day. If you use your Mac for work during the day, and don’t want Transmission to “hog” all of your bandwidth while you’re trying to get important Internet related tasks done, set a lower transfer rate in the spaces provided, place a check in the Schedule Speed Limit: box, and set the start and end times for this Transmission “throttle”.

  12. Now click the Network tab. If you want to change the default port that Transmission uses, this is the spot to do it. If you do change the port, make sure your Firewall (or router) is set to use this new port.

    Take a look at the other Preferences sections to become familiar with some of the other options that Transmission offers.

  13. Once your download has completed, Transmission will notify you with a ‘ding’ sound and the main window will display solid green and blue lines.

  14. Check your Downloads folder for all of the newly downloaded files – that’s it, you’re done!

82 thoughts on “How to use Transmission as your BitTorrent client (macOS)”

  1. Thanks for the great how-to-use tutorial on Transmission.
    Really well done and easy to follow and quite user friendly.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks for the tip with mac-i command. I had installed Parallels and it was by default booting up XP for my utorrent. I had right clicked the file type, and check default, but checking CHANGE ALL is key.

    Thanks again.

  3. Yeah, ditto, im a bit clueless
    when i select the torrent, it is asking me for the tracker adress?
    i hae no idea what that is or how to find it,
    so i cannot download any torrent i find????
    please help

  4. Hi, I am also confuse by step three. I do not have any .torrent files and do not know how to get them. Can you please tell me what to do here? Thanks!!

  5. I agree with all of the above. I too am a new torrent user and although this tutorial helped to shine some light on the subject I am still at a loss because I have only 1 torrent file which I downloaded previously using BitTorrent. I have since deleted that app because after reading various reviews it seemed that Transmission would be the best app for Mac users. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks : )

  6. I’m a torrent virgin, I don’t understand this tutorial. Step three is where I also got stuck. I thought this Transmission was for file sharing? Please explain how to download files with it. I’m so lost.

  7. hi guys,

    if i want to reinstall my system (leo to snow leo), so i do a complete fresh install, how can i manage not to lose my torrent info in transmission (that i seed)?

    thanks in advance

  8. I’m also confused about step 3. Can you please email me about how to find torrents??
    Thanks.
    Love the instructions, simple and easy to follow…I’m sure I’ll understand it once I figure out step 3!!!

  9. .torrent files are the torrents you search for online… you download to your computer, and then you open with transmission.
    Quite simple. The .torrent file has the routing for the file you want, and tells transmission where to search for it.
    to download files just search for .torrent download and drag the files downloaded to this app.

  10. well explain Alejandro, so far with the new Snow Leo I think it even works better, faster. maybe I am just so glad that I have transmission and snow leo on my MAC.
    by the way people, ya know your MAC can be voiced activated.

    – she is alive!…alive!

  11. I don’t think I’ve changed anything about Transmission, but it has started automatically pausing all of my transfers. Any suggestions?

  12. Hello,
    I download the application but my system is 10.4.11 and it says that this applicatio doesn’t function with my system who is PowerPC G4.
    Have you a solution?

    Thank you

  13. I would like to know how one can change the interface so I can get “list view” instead of what I have now. Reason for this is using remote desktop, vnc or screen sharing which I use a lot goes smother and since I have over 200 torrent’s running almost all the time, list view and scrollbar on the side in the interface would help a lot. Thank you.

  14. I try to start a transfer but nothing happens…
    any idea as to why transmission launches when I open double click a .torrent and the transfer does not start – it doesn’t even show up on the list.?

  15. I tried to download a small part (33mb)of a huge torrent (7.75gb).. It started downloading no problem. BUT it was only downloading from 4 of 20 peers and the download rate was only 1-6k max.. Is this normal…
    I tried messing with the speed limit & bandwidths but i cant seem to get the download any faster.. Its taking over 2 hours to download 33mb.
    How do I seed???
    I checked the network section in preferences and it says ‘port is closed’… Could this be the problem?

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  17. I am the same as most above I am a virgin at IMac I have downloaded movies OK but I want to schedule downloads to work automatic while I sleep but cannot get it to work and getting up at 2am to check is making me sleepy, otherwise I find the software great

  18. Hi, i couldn’t reach step 4… the confirmation/information window doesn’t pop out after i try to open the .torrent file that i have downloaded.

  19. Hello Folks’s:

    Regarding step #3::

    Transmission is a .torrent (bittorrent) “client”. That means it is the program which takes the .torrent files that you get from the internet and allows the transfer of files between people’s computers (known as “peers”). The use of “.torrents” and “clients” is to form a Peer to Peer network using the Internet.

    Now to get .torrent files, you search the internet for the subject that you wish while specifying that it is a .torrent file. For instance in the U.K. it is legal to share files of broadcast television shows that where made in the U.K. …such as Coronation Street.

    To get a .torrent file you may use google to find: “Coronation Street .torrent” and google will return its usual listings of the available places to find these files.

    You then must go to these sites and download the (example – coronationstreet.torrent) file to your computer.
    Then you will proceed with STEP 3. as listed above.

    Note that some sites on the internet may require that you sign up as a member, and that you then must follow the common rules of being a member. These are generally very reasonable and are common sense rules. Read them and follow them.

    TORRENTS ARE ALL ABOUT SHARING: AND ACTING IN THE MANNER OF A CARING COMMUNITY
    It is my opinion that there is no need to pay any fees or register credit cards or anything like that on a legitimate torrent site. If they ask for these things then I advise that you leave and not return to them. In other words, don’t pay to join a “torrent site”.

    I HOPE THIS CLEARS UP SOME OF YOUR DIFFICULTIES UNDERSTAND TORRENTS AND CLIENTS AND THE COMMUNITY OF PEER TO PEER SHARING.

  20. YES . The confirmation window will open if you go to the menu bar for transmission when it is running , then choose transmission, then choose preferences, click the icon labelled transfers. Then check the box marked ‘Display “adding transfer” options window.

    then you will get the window stated in step 4.

  21. Danny you did well.
    “11.5 GB, uploaded 20.4 GB.” this means you have seeded back to the community you got the file from almost 2times what you downloaded.
    If your question is what do you do now, then:
    the answer is you have completely downloaded the file that you wished now you may use it.
    I do not know what kind of file that you got . but let’s say it was a video file.
    So, from your client “Trans mission” select (highlight ) the file in question.
    right click or ( command click) and then select “show in finder” this will take you to the location of the file on you storage device.
    check on the file type that it is ( .avi, or .mkv, ) for instance.
    I will assume .avi for this .
    select the file
    command click (or right mouse click) then choose open with.
    Then select the program with which to open and run the file with.
    I like to use VLC usually, or MepegStreamclip , which ever is fine (these are both available online free by the way)
    And away you go.
    The video playback program you choose will play back the file that you have shared from the internet.

  22. Fantastic guide, thanks for helping out!

    For all those that are confused by section 3. When you have downloaded Transmission and have opened the file, you have a blank application.

    Enter a torrent website (or use an existing .torrent file) and download whatever it is that you are wanting (say, an episode of a show). This will download as a relatively small file. These files are the ones that you are wanting to select when proceeding to section 4 of this tutorial. Once you have started the download, it will be the size that you originally thought it would be and depending on who many seeders you have, it may be a relatively fast or slow download… hope that helps!

  23. HELP!…I can not get my port to open. I use Mac os 10.6 and have a 2wire 2701HG-B router…I’ve added the port No. to the firewall allowance….I know it’s something i have done correctly…I tried utorrent and vuse and I could download but not upload….even then the port checker said i was closed. So I’ve removed those clients…added transmission read everything i could and still can’t get a green light. Portforward.com isn’t specific to window or mac…I use a private tracker…nobody there can figure it either

  24. What is the port address you wish to use?

    Perhaps you are using a banned port
    or a port address that your ISP does not like.

    Is there a firewall in use you may not be aware of?
    such as a software running on your system
    or a separate one on your router
    there may also be one that is in use by your ISP

    And sorry, but which green light are you referring to?

  25. I used a port that I knew was open, and your right there could be a firewall that I’m not aware of….it is Mac, and the router has a separate firewall for Airport wireless which is off because i don’t use it. I’ve already added Transmission to the routers primary firewall using TDP & UCP. Yet still the port checker says my port isn’t open (connection refused), the “Transmission” still shows port closed with a red light….and the Transmission log says connection refused error 61. Now I’m researching changing my DHCP protocol to a manual …and changing the IP address….????
    I’ve about lost my last marble and if i don’t figure this out soon I’ll know I’ve lost them all, and toss in the towel…:(

  26. I’m lost… I’ve been reading as much as i can get my hands on in how to use torrents and transmission but each time i download a torrent and transfer it to transmission in order to load to my computer when the green bar is full the small symbol to the right of the green loading bar says pause and i don’t know what to do with it now. it looks like it finished but i don’t know how to get it to play in VLC that i have on my mac. (the torrent file is a movie). please help me, i am getting so frustrated. I’ve tried it three times and each one takes hours and hours to load. what am i doing wrong?

  27. SeaBee hello
    in transmission if the file is all green and reads 100% then the file has completely down loaded, you can check this right on the line above the green. also if it is under the tab saying paused if you paused it. NOW, right click, or control click on the item (movie) in your case and then select show in finder from the droop down list. this will show you where the completed file is on your hard drive. The file will have an extension .avi or .mkv or the like, and this is the file that you can play in VLC (which is a wonderful little free video player.) VLC with then play the movie , if there is anything wrong with the file it will pop up a message saying so. otherwise it should be playing.

  28. hello i have downloaded they flac file torrent al the way but all the music tracks wont play or transfer to my i tunes all the traks are dark coloerd and wont open

  29. Nathan

    Flac files are not native to iTunes you need to convert them to mp3 or AAC or another compatible file type to use in itunes . there are a few freeware programs available for the mac. Check out techtracker to help you choose the one that you wish to use.
    like Flac2mac, or Xlossless re-encoder to name but two of them.

  30. Why does my download stop and say that I’m not downloading from any peers.
    (0 of 0 peers). Do I just wait or is there something wrong?

    A Torrent Virgin,
    Markyc

  31. Marlyc
    Sorry,but yes, you need peers, the more the better. Especially seeds, they have tje whole torrent. Yes, just leave it running. As many people do not leave their computers runnimg 24/7. Some will complete in minutes. Others well…i have had some tske months to complete. Welcome to yhe p2p community.

  32. I’ve been using Transmission on my Macbook pro succcessfully for years. I recently got a new mac mini and get: “Error: Permission denied(/Users/ … file name” when I try to DL a torrent.
    I can seem to pinpoint what setting is causing that error and do have my firewall set to allow incoming files for this app. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

  33. Mitch

    It would help if you could expand on the address of permission denied line. But it sounds like a file access permission denial. Use “get info” on the file and change file access to read & write for the users you want access for.

  34. Danielle:
    As far as I know , peers are only able to access the specific file which you are sharing, there is not folder sharing except in the case of a folder being shared specifically as the torrent you built/ or are sharing.
    to share files you must make them into a torrent and then share that torrent, and it may contain only what you put into it , folder or files.

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  36. hi ibwhen i add the torrent it dosent download and nor when i’m adding on that pop up it shows the checkmark checked could u please help

  37. Transmission is only for torrent files, these will always have the suffix of
    “.torrent”
    therefore the answer for you joj is no , in that sense it does not “read .exe ” files. if the .exe files are contained within a torrent file then of course it will download or transfer that file.
    The purpose of transmission is as client, or means of transporting, files of nearly any type over the internet between peers.

  38. I have seen so many useless answers to this question – this is the first answer I have come across that completely solves the problem. Many thanks for your comprehensive and superbly presented explanation.

  39. this is very helpful in explaining how transmission works.
    i’m using transmission a while, and now suddenly the torrent-inspector is closed and i can’t get it to open. not through doubleclicking and not through the i-button on the toolbar.
    can anyone help me how i can get i back?
    thanks!

  40. What does it mean when Transmission stops downloading a file and a yellow alarm triangle appears in the first column??? Thank you!!!!

  41. It tells me this error:
    Permission denied (/Volumes/2TB/Transmission/Trider G7 (Pack 01 ep 01-16)/Trider G7 – 11 – Il Duro Esame.avi)

    WHat does it mean????

  42. I’ve been using it for a while now with only a few minor problems. Lately I was getting really slow speeds and it turns out that the transfer speed limit was on. I might have hit the shortcut on the keyboard by mistake. I get those caution sign tracker returned error signs too but they don’t seem to effect the downloads. I never used to get them, just appeared within the last year. Other than that it’s been a breeze. Get the program then go to kickass and hit the magnet sign of the one you want and sit back and let transmission do it’s work as a download manager. You should also get VLC though, it’s so much better than quicktime and it’ll play those flac music files without the need of converting them. Good luck people, I know that it can be confusing.

  43. Songs I have downloaded from Transmission are not appearing in my iTunes, even though it says it has already been done? I don’t know what to do.

  44. when i open transmission , i get three option.
    a. open
    b. play, pause
    c. properties
    thats it and the properties cannot be access
    help

    1. Leslie Murray

      Are you sure you’re on transmission? It does not play anything so I don’t understand why you would have a play option. All it does is transfer files. There is a pause button to stop the transfer but mine does not have a properties option but does have preferences. I might have a different version than yours but still the play option is confusing.

  45. I have been using transmission for years. All of a sudden all of my transfers are not seeding and have a yellow triangle on the left side. What do I need to do to correct the issue?

  46. Piliger Black

    Is there any way to contact Transmission ? Any email address ? I keep trying to register on their help forum but it keeps telling me my email address has been used, but when I ask for a new password it says no such email address. I have searched their site and cannot find anywhere to make contact with someone. I have been trying for almost three months … anyone ?

    1. Leslie Murray

      I don’t know about contacting them, I’ve never tried. I have been using it for years so if you have a question ask away and I will try and answer it.

      1. Piliger Black

        I guess so :-) I have been using it for a couple of years .. but in the last couple of months I have noticed that No download torrents will start until I un-tick “Stay within Global Bandwidth Limits” then they start straight away. I have testing this recently and it is completely consistent across all links I have used.

      2. I have the 2.42 version and I don’t have that option. In preferences under bandwidth I don’t have either of them ticked off, up or download. Do you have a different version? I see they have a 2.84 version now. I have my notify with updates clicked on but didn’t receive notice about it.

      3. Piliger Black

        Mine is the Mac version …. could that be it ?

        In the Torrent Inspector window when a download item is selected, on the right hand tab is a Cog. In that section there is a section called “Transfer Bandwidth”
        with three tick boxes: Limit Download, Limit Upload and Stay within Global Bandwidth Limits.
        Not in yours ?

      4. no, we’re on the mac page so that’s what I’m on too. I found it in torrent inspector and my global bandwith is ticked. Are the other two ticked on yours? If they aren’t then you are setup the same as mine. You could always try the new version. Are you 2.42 also?

      5. I’m stumped, I do know that some of the problems are transient. For instance I used to get the yellow triangles and now I don’t. Did you have any luck getting in contact with them? That guy maxtcc knows the program pretty well. I wish he would comment on this.

  47. This may have been discussed but I’m having lots of trouble and can’t find an answer. I have no problem downloading anything I want. The problem is uploading. It used to work fine and then just stopped several months ago. My ratio is going down so I really want to be able to upload. All my files say seeding but even though I have files that I know should be uploading, they’re not. I am on Verizon Fios, Apple OSX 10.6.8, Transmission 2.84. I’ve tried to change settings and also gone back to default. No luck. Please help if possible.

  48. I am new to torrenting and have been through the comments but could not find the answer to my problem or just did not understand. I successfully made it to step four, but at step five the transmission window is there but not downloading anything. 0 of 75.4MB (0.00%) – remaining time unknown. Downloading from 0 of 0 peers – DL 0.0 KB/s, UL 0.0 KB/s.
    I am a mac user version 10.9.5

    1. It could simply be that no one is seeding the torrent, for which there is nothing you can do other than finding another torrent. If you are sure that the torrent is active with valid seeders, then you should check your firewall or router.

  49. Can anyone help me — I cannot select individual download files because the file has to start downloading before I can access the file list to tick or uptick the check box…? What have I missed?

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  51. How about instructions for trying to create a new torrent? Every time I try, I get an error message that says: Tracker gave HTTP response code 429 (Unknown Error)

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