How to use Transmission to Download BitTorrent Files (macOS)

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

Please note: While this tutorial was originally published in 2008, it has been updated to be current in 2021.

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.

While the exactly steps and screenshots are specific to macOS, if you’re using Transmission in Linux or another OS, you’ll be able to follow along without any problems.

  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 in a Finder window

  3. 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.
  4. the main Transmission bittorrent client interface

  5. To start downloading a torrent, select File and then Open Torrent File…
  6. the macOS menu bar with an arrow pointing to Open Torrent File

  7. Navigate to a .torrent file (probably in your Downloads folder), select it and click Open
  8. a Finder window with an arrow pointing to a .torrent file

  9. 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.
  10. the confirmation window to download bittorrent files in Transmission

  11. 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.
  12. the main Transmission app with a torrent downloading

  13. 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).
  14. settings for the bittorrent client Transmission

  15. 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.
  16. list of individual files to be downloaded

  17. 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).
  18. the macOS Dock with an arrow pointing to Transmission

  19. 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.

  20. the General tab of the Transmission app Preferences

  21. 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”.

  22. the Bandwidth tab of the Transmission app Preferences

  23. 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.

  24. the Network tab of the Transmission app Preferences

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

    Transmission with a finished bittorrent download

  26. Check your Downloads folder for all of the newly downloaded files – that’s it, you’re done! You can now use Transmission to download files using BitTorrent :)
  27. a Finder window with an arrow pointing to a folder


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5 thoughts on “How to use Transmission to Download BitTorrent Files (macOS)”

  1. Thank you so much for the effort you put on explaining the use of Transmission :)
    was so helpful..

  2. 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!

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