Downloading torrents might not be as popular as it once was, but you’ll still find a ton of content available online. While many of the torrents available online fall clearly under the umbrella of obvious pirating or copyright infringement, BitTorrent itself is a totally legal file sharing protocol used for (some) legitimate purposes. If you are a Mac user, here are the top BitTorrent clients for macOS in 2018.
Transmission is definitely the most popular of all the BitTorrent clients for macOS, and it’s more powerful than it first appears. Despite a reliably simple interface, it hosts a deceptively large feature set which has made it a popular choice. It runs well on resource-starved machines by occupying minimal RAM and using only system resources it absolutely needs. But it’s more than just a progress bar for torrents. 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, simply using the attractive, Mac-style interface and core functionality.
Transmission does just about everything you’d want a torrent client to do, but it doesn’t get in your face about it. It even manages to host some unique features. One of our favorite unique features of Transmission is automatically sorting torrents into different groups (and associated download locations) based on the content in their titles. It means we can automatically sort movies into a movies folder, TV shows into a TV shows folder, and so on. It also supports Distributed Hash Tables (DHT) and Peer Exchange (PEX). Transmission is perfect anyone coming to torrents for the first time, or anyone disappointed with their current BitTorrent client for macOS.
Well-loved on the Windows operating systems, uTorrent is also available on macOS. It’s not the best of the BitTorrent clients for macOS that we reviewed, though. It’s ad-infested, which is not the norm in desktop software and should not be tolerated. It’s got some gross parts too: the installer tries to trick you in to making Yahoo! your default search engine and installing PDF Expert. That’s the kind of behavior you tolerate in pirated software because you know you’re dealing with criminals. We shouldn’t have to put up with it in BitTorrent clients. It doesn’t have much going for it over Transmissions either. The interface isn’t nearly as pleasant, but it’s easier to get greater technical insight into your downloads. You’ll find large and clear graphs on the bottom fo the page. 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 disgusting turn off in desktop software.
BitTorrent’s official client still exists! It was never the kind of client that capable users installed, but it must have gone downhill. We mention it only because of their exceptional SEO. The official BitTorrent client is basically identical to uTorrent, but with a different app icon. 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. So if you really want uTorrent, install BitTorrent instead and skip the ads.
qBittorrent is a free and open-source BitTorrent client that runs on everything. 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. This provides 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 the broadest set of options in any of the BitTorrent clients for macOS that we examined. Knowledgeable 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’re technical enough that you don’t mind that, qBittorrent is awesome.
5. WebTorrent Desktop
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. If you used WebTorrent that way, you’ll be disappointed. Its true function is as a streaming media application. WebTorrent uses the BitTorrent protocol to stream any media available in torrent form. It works by tweaking the BitTorrent protocol to fetch data in playback order, rather than in whatever order the network makes the data available. Seeking even works well, if slowly. When you drag the playhead, WebTorrent reorganizes the packet download priority based on the new playhead position. The player is simple and minimal and seems to support a wide range of file types. It doesn’t really work for downloading a full season of a TV show, but that’s somewhat expected, giving the very alpha 0.19 version number.
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 a file or link to start buffering. It’s an excellent choice for quickly streaming a movie or TV show with friends. It’s in beta and open-source, so it’s bound to be a little quirky. But users of older torrent apps like Vuze will recognize and appreciate the streaming feature.
Transmission is our favorite BitTorrent client. If you find it’s missing some kind of options, check out qBitTorrent for menus and functions galore. If you want something a little different, WebTorrent Desktop is a cool supplemental app for watching movies or TV shows on demand, provided they have popular torrents.
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