How do I use FTP from a command line?

Note: FTP is not an encrypted transmission, which means any data sent over it, including your username and password could be read by anyone who may intercept your transmission. If you're wanting a more secure transmission we suggest using SFTP.

Connect using FTP
Send and receive a file in FTP
FTP commands

Connect using FTP

To connect to another computer using FTP at the MS-DOS prompt, command line, or Linux shell type FTP and press enter. Once in FTP> Type:

open ftp.example.com

In the above example, you'd substitute example.com for the name of your domain you're wanting to connect to. In addition to the domain name the IP address of the computer you're trying to connected to can also be typed in, for example, open 192.168.1.12.

Once connected, a username and password prompt will appear. If these are entered properly you'll be successfully connected to the server where you can browse the files, send files, or receive files depending on your rights. Some servers may also allow anonymous logins you can connect to these computers using guest or e-mail address.

Send and receive a file in FTP

To get files from the server onto your own computer use the get command as shown in the example below. In this example, you would get the file myfile.htm.

Tip: If you want to get more than one file use mget and wildcards, for example, if you wanted to get all files that end with .htm you could type mget *.htm. Finally, if you do not want to be prompted as each file is being sent make sure to type prompt to disable prompting.

get myfile.htm

To send a file from your computer to the computer you are connected to assuming you have the rights use the send command as shown in the example below. In this example, we are sending the myfile.htm to the directory we're currently in.

send myfile.htm

It is important to realize that the files being sent must be in your local working directory. In other words the directory you were in when you typed the FTP command. If you want to change to the directory that contains your files use the lcd command. For example, on Windows you'd type lcd c:\windows to set the local directory to the Windows directory.

FTP Commands

Depending upon the version of FTP and the operating system being used, each of the below commands may or may not work. Typing -help or a ? will list the commands available to you. Below is a general description of FTP commands available in the Windows command line FTP command.

Command Information
! This command toggles back and forth between the operating system and ftp. Once back in the operating system, typing exit takes you back to the FTP command line.
? Access the Help screen.
append Append text to a local file.
ascii Switch to ASCII transfer mode
bell Turns bell mode on or off.
binary Switches to binary transfer mode.
bye Exits from FTP.
cd Changes directory.
close Exits from FTP.
delete Deletes a file.
debug Sets debugging on or off.
dir Lists files if connected.

dir -C = Will list the files in wide format.
dir -1 = Lists the files in bare format in alphabetic order
dir -r = Lists directory in reverse alphabetic order.
dir -R = Lists all files in current directory and sub directories.
dir -S = Lists files in bare format in alphabetic order.
disconnect Exits from FTP.
get Get file from the computer connected to.
glob Sets globbing on or off. When turned off the file name in the put and get commands is taken literally and wildcards will not be looked at.
hash Sets hash mark printing on or off. When turned on for each 1024 bytes of data received a hash-mark (#) is displayed.
help Access the Help screen and displays information about command if command typed after help.
lcd Displays local directory if typed alone or if path typed after lcd will change local directory.
literal Sends a literal command to the connected computer with an expected one line response.
ls Lists files of the remotely connected computer.
mdelete Multiple delete.
mdir Lists contents of multiple remote directories.
mget Get multiple files.
mkdir Make directory.
mls Lists contents of multiple remote directories.
mput Sent multiple files
open Opens address.
prompt Enables or disables the prompt.
put Send one file
pwd Print working directory
quit Exits from FTP.
quote Same as the literal command.
recv Receive file.
remotehelp Get help from remote server.
rename Renames a file.
rmdir Removes a directory on the remote computer.
send Send single file.
status Shows status of currently enabled and disabled options
trace Toggles packet tracing.
Type Set file transfer type.
user Send new user information.
verbose Sets verbose on or off.

Additional information

  • See FTP definition for additional information and related links.