OIT Tech 32px

Using Fetch to Transfer Files from a Macintosh


There is a separate version of these instructions for people using any of OIT's static-page servers; the following instructions cover building personal sites on the people2 server:


Unless you have a wide screen, the most efficient way to use this Web page may be to print it out for reference while you are following these steps, rather than flipping back and forth between windows.

If you have not changed your Ohio ID password since October 1, 2007, then you must do so before you will be able to connect to the people2 server. Use the link near the top of http://www.ohio.edu/oit/services/myaccount.cfm.

If your public and secure personal home folders do not yet exist, you will not be able to connect by SFTP; follow the "Provisioning Steps" link at the left.

This page has not been updated to account for the changes that will happen in late 2015 with respect to the http to https transition; the second sub-bullet of step 3, below, will be different after the cut-over.


There are two prerequisites to transferring your files with Fetch according to the step-by-step instructions listed below:

  • You must have Fetch installed and configured with the correct preferences settings, as described under the "Fetch Install" link to the left.

  • You must have created your public and secure home folders, as described under the "Provisioning Steps" link to the left.

Once both of those are done, then you can use Fetch to transfer your files:

  1. Start Fetch; if already started, select "New Connection" from the File menu.

    In the resulting dialog box:

    • specify host "people2.ohio.edu" (do not specify the host as "ww2.ohio.edu" that is a different machine), as shown in the yellow-shaded region of the illustration, below;

    • specify your Ohio ID as the username, in the red-shaded region, below (the username must not include any quotations marks, nor "@ohio.edu");

    • connect using SFTP, as shown in the purple-shaded region, below; and

    • enter your own password, in the green-shaded region, below.

    Leave the "initial folder" and "port" fields blank, if those extra choices are displayed.

    New Fetch Connection
  2. Click on "Connect" to make the connection.

    The first time you connect to a server, you may be asked to confirm its identity. That stores information about the server in the Mac OS's "known hosts" file.

    If the server configuration changes, the conflict between the stored and new information will prevent Fetch from connecting, generating an error message that provides few or no clues as to the true cause ("SFTP connection to 'ww2.ohio.edu' could not be opened because the connection to the SFTP server could not be established or was lost."). You can fix this problem:

    • click on Fetch's "Help" menu and choose "Fetch Help";

    • type "known hosts" in the "Search" field at the upper-right and wait briefly;

    • click on the line "'RSA host key differs' warning" (even though you may well not have received that particular warning), and follow the instructions there.

    If you decide to delete the known hosts file, the primary consequence will simply be having to reconfirm each new host the first time that you connect to it afterwards.

  3. When the connection is made, you will see in the main portion of the Fetch window a list of all the folders for people with public pages in http://www.ohio.edu/people/, as shown here (the colored circles highlight features that are discussed following the illustration):

    Fetch Connected

    • If you want to work on your public pages, then scroll down, as needed, to find the folder whose name matches your Ohio ID; and double-click on that folder.

    • If you want to work on your secure pages, then

      • click on the "Path" tool near the left end of the toolbar across the top of the Fetch window (highlighted green, above), in order to navigate "out" or "up" two levels (to look at the contents of the "people2.ohio.edu" folder, where you will observe both the "public" and the "secure" folders);

      • open the "secure" folder;

      • open the "people" folder;

      • scroll down, as needed, to find the folder whose name matches your Ohio ID; and double-click on that folder.

  4. Continue to navigate in your directories on the server in the main portion of the Fetch window, with the usual Macintosh techniques, until you are looking at the files that are already in the directory where you want to place the new file.

    You can go to "outer" folders in the current path by using the "Path" button on the toolbar (highlighted green, above).

    You can go directly to recently visited folders using the "Recent" button on the toolbar (immediately to the right of the "Path" button).

  5. Decide whether the file should be transferred in text or binary mode. If the file has a conventional name for its type, then the "automatic" mode is likely to choose correctly between text and binary operation.

  6. There are two ways to perform the file transfer:

    • Drag and drop: open a Finder window to the point where you can see the file or folder you want to transfer, and then use the mouse to drag the file or folder from your Finder window into the Fetch window (or vice versa, for downloading). This is usable only if you want an automatic-mode transfer (by far the most common situation).

    • Toolbar: click on the "Put" button on the toolbar to initiate the file transfer. In the resulting dialog box, navigate on your Mac's disk drive until you have selected the file you want to transfer. Observe that the lower portion of the dialog includes a "Format" pop-up, which defaults to "Automatic"; if you need to, you can force a text mode transfer by selecting "text," or a binary mode transfer by selecting "Raw data."

      Double-click on that file or single-click on the file and then single-click on the "Put" button at the lower right to perform the upload. Wiggle the mouse and observe the pointer displayed as a running dog. Wait for the transfer to complete.

    If you attempt to transfer a file that is bigger than your available free space, the server will refuse to accept the full file. The part of the file that used up your available space will be left on the server, and Fetch will display an error message that identifies the lack of available space as the cause of the problem. (The server will also send you an automatic e-mail reporting the fact that you exceeded your disk quota, but that will likely take several minutes to reach you.) You will have to manually delete the file-fragment to prevent people wasting time downloading the useless file.

  7. If you need to change the name of a file after uploading it, click on the "Refresh" button on the toolbar (highlighted brown, above), then click on the file whose name you want to modify, then click on the "Get Info" button on the toolbar (highlighted blue, above).

  8. You can adjust the widths of the columns by putting your mouse over their boundaries (highlighted gold, above); the mouse pointer changes when you are over the boundary. Then click and drag to the left or right.

  9. When done transferring files, choose "Quit" from the Fetch menu.

Alternatives to explore include:

  • Creating a Fetch "Shortcut" to the people2 server, which you can select using the heart tool icon to the right of the "Hostname" field when making a new connection. You can identify one shortcut as the default, pre-selected when you start Fetch.