5 Top BitTorrent Clients for macOS

Downloading torrents might not be as popular as it once was, but you’ll still find a ton of content available online. While most of the content available via torrents falls comfortably under the umbrella of obvious pirating and copyright infringement, BitTorrent is a totally legal file-sharing protocol used for some legitimate purposes as well. If you are a Mac user, these are the top BitTorrent clients for macOS in 2018.

1. Transmission

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Transmission isn’t an extremely powerful BitTorrent client for macOS, but it is easily the most popular. Its reliably simple interface and deceptively large feature set has made it an enduringly popular choice. It runs well on resource-starved machines, occupying only a minimal amount of RAM and using only system resources that it absolutely needs. Power users can get their hands on the add-on library or mess with the built-in remote control tools.

Casual torrent downloaders can ignore that side of the software completely by simply using the attractive, Mac-style interface and core functionality. One of our favorite features is the ability to automatically sort torrents into different groups (and associated download locations) based on their titles. It also supports Distributed Hash Tables (DHT) and Peer Exchange (PEX). We recommend Transmissions to anyone coming to torrents for the first time or anyone disappointed in their current client.

2. uTorrent

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Well-loved on the Windows operating systems, uTorrent is also available for macOS. It has some problems, however. It’s ad-infested, which is not the norm in desktop software and should not be tolerated. The installer tries to trick you into making Yahoo! your default search engine and install PDF Expert, which is the kind of behavior you tolerate in pirated software because you know you’re dealing with criminals.

However, it offers significantly more capabilities than Transmission. The interface isn’t nearly as pleasant, but it’s easier to get greater technical insight into your downloads. You’ll also find support for DHT and PEX, and it’s plenty fast. But the ad-packed, mobile app “upgrade” business model is a total turnoff in desktop software.

3. BitTorrent

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BitTorrent’s official client technically exists. But note that the official BitTorrent client is nearly identical to uTorrent but with a different logo. It even has the same dark-pattern-driven installer. It does have one minor plus, however: as of our testing, it didn’t display the in-application ad on our system.

4. qBittorrent

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qBittorrent is a free and open-source BitTorrent client that runs on Linux, Windows and macOS. It’s not as polished as Transmission or even uTorrent/BitTorrent. However, frequent users of FOSS will be used to that. The interface adopts uTorrent’s approach of throwing everything at you in tabs. That way you have the information you want without digging through menus. qBittorrent includes support for major BitTorrent features like DHT, PEX and magnet links. It also includes support for UPnP/NAT-PMP port forwarding. In fact, it provides perhaps the broadest set of options in a macOS BitTorrent client. Knowledgable power users will find dozens of settings to fiddle with. The downside of this options parade is that basic configuration of the app can sometimes require an unfriendly dive into a monster mash of menus. But if you don’t mind that, qBittorrent is awesome.

5. WebTorrent Desktop

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WebTorrent Desktop is an interesting supplement to a regular BitTorrent client. It can function as a traditional, if limited, torrent client, but that’s not its core role. Instead, it’s a streaming media application that uses the BitTorrent protocol to stream any media available in torrent form. It’s in beta (v0.19 as of this writing) and open-source, so it’s bound to be a little quirky. But users of older torrent apps like Vuze will recognize and appreciate this feature. The player is simple and attractive, and it works well. Seeking even works, if slowly.

It works by tweaking the BitTorrent protocol to fetch data in playback order rather than in whatever order the network makes the data available. When you seek with the playhead, WebTorrent reorganizes the packet priority based on your current playhead position. Of course, you’ll need a decent Internet connection and a torrent with sufficient seeders for a functional streaming experience. WebTorrent works with any torrent file or magnet link: just drag and drop to start streaming. Its an excellent choice for quickly streaming a movie or TV show with friends.

Conclusion

Transmission is our favorite BitTorrent client. If you find it’s missing some options, qBitTorrent includes the most features of any torrent application we tried. WebTorrent Desktop is a cool supplemental app for watching movies or TV shows on demand, provided they’re popular.

3 comments

  1. After the last build of macOS 10.14 public beta (18A365a) all of my BitTorrent clients stopped working Folx, uTorrent and so on. They were working in the previous build. I believe this happened back in 2015 with El Capitan. After trying different browsers, changing security settings, different sources etc, etc I decided to give Transmission a go and low and behold it works. I have retried the same magnet link with uTorrent and it still doesn’t work. After the dialogue box comes up in response to clicking on the link clicking “Add” just caused uTorrent (and Folx) to quit.
    I’m mystified but happy to have Transmission running.

    1. I must agree: that is indeed baffling! Were your network settings modified by the beta? They might have been reset to some kind of default that got in the way of uTorrent’s functionality but not Transmissions. Then there’s always the perpetual beta gremlins to get in the way as well. Glad Transmissions is working out for you though!

  2. It is possible that Mojave beta may have changed some network settings although I did uninstall uTorrent and reinstall it. It could be a SIP issue but somehow transmission has got around it. I think it will be resolved after the public release of macOS 10.14 if everyone else has the same problem. In the meantime I will report it via the Feedback Assistant an see what happens.

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