MAC TFTP Software (OS X )

Mac TFTP KB ID 0001247


Every time I go to a networking event theres a sea of MacBooks in the audience, If techs like MacBooks so much why is there such a lack of decent Mac TFTP software?

Mac OSX TFTP to Cisco


The thing is, I’m looking at the problem with my ‘Windows User’ head on. When I have a task to perform I’m geared towards looking for a program do do that for me. OS X is Linux (There I said it!) Linux in a pretty dress, I’ll grant you, but scratch the surface a little bit and there it is.

Why is that important? Well your already holding a running TFTP server on your hand, your MAC is already running a TFTP server, you just need to learn how to use it.

MAC TFTP Server (OS X Native)

As I said it’s probably running anyway, but to check, open a Terminal window and issue the following command;

netstat -atp UDP | grep tftp

Find out if TFTP is Running

If it’s not running you can manually start and stop the TFTP server with the following commands;

Start TFTP

sudo launchctl load -F /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist


sudo launchctl unload -F /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist

Note: In macOS Catalina, it’s disabled by default, so if you don’t manually start it, you will see errors like;

%Error reading tftp:// (Timed out attempting to connect)

It would normally go without saying, but If I don’t say it, the post will fill up with comments! Make sure your Mac is physically connected to the same network as the network device, and has an IP address in the same range.

 Same Subnet

And make sure the device, and the Mac can ‘ping’ each other.

prove network connectivityprove network connectivity

Use Mac TFTP Deamon To Copy a File To a Network Device

I’ve got a Cisco ASA 5505, but whatever the device is, does not really matter. You will have a file that you have downloaded, and you want to ‘send’ that file to a device. This file will probably be in your ‘downloads’ folder, the TFTP deamon uses the /private/tftpboot folder so we are going to copy the file there. Then set the correct permissions on the file.

cd ~/Downloads
cp FILENAME /private/tftpboot
cd /private/tftpboot
chmod 766 FILENAME

Copy TFTP File to Network Device

Note: You can also use;

sudo chmod 777 /private/tftpboot
sudo chmod 777 /private/tftpboot/*

To set permissions on ALL files in this directory.

You can then execute the command on your device to copy the file across;

ciscoasa# copy tftp flash

Address or name of remote host []?

Source filename []? asa825-59-k8.bin

Destination filename [asa825-59-k8.bin]? {Enter}

Accessing tftp://!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Writing file disk0:/asa825-59-k8.bin...
15482880 bytes copied in 12.460 secs (1290240 bytes/sec)

Use Mac TFTP Deamon To Copy a File From a Network Device

There is a gotcha with the TFTP daemon, which is you cant copy a file to the TFTP daemon if that file does not already exist there.  Which at first glance sort of defeats the object, but what it really means id you have to have a file there with the same name and the correct permissions on it. In Linux you can create a file with the ‘Touch’ command.

cd /private/tftpboot
chmod 766 FILENAME

Create a File in TFTP

You can then sent the file to your Mac from the device;

ciscoasa# copy flash tftp

Source filename []? asa825-59-k8.bin

Address or name of remote host []?

Destination filename [asa825-59-k8.bin]? {Enter}

Writing file tftp://
15482880 bytes copied in 9.940 secs (1720320 bytes/sec)

I Want Mac OS X TFTP Software!

Well you have a limited choice, if you don’t like using the Mac TFTP Daemon. You can install and use a GUI front end that uses the built in TFTP software. 

TFTP GUI Wrapper copy

But if you want a ‘stand-alone’ piece of software then the only other one I’ve found is PumpKIN, you will need to disable the built in TFTP daemon or it will throw an error.

PumpKIN TFTP Server

Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

FortiGate TFTP : Backup To & Restore From

Backup and Restore Cisco IOS (Switches and Routers)

Backup and Restore a Cisco Firewall

CentOS – Install and Configure a TFTP Server

Author: PeteLong

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  1. Thanks Pete – nicely pulled together.

    I use your instructions to refresh my WRT router that I bricked…

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  2. It’s BSD not Linux 🙂

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Steve, Agreed; but Unix Derivative frightens the muggles buddy!

      Post a Reply
  3. Why not this way? Looks much simpler.

    Put device into TFTP mode, then on the Mac
    > binary
    > rexmt 1
    > timeout 180
    > put

    Post a Reply
  4. Thank you this article really made it fast and simple for me to update the OS on my cisco asa5505.

    Post a Reply
  5. Your post totally saved my bricked wifi router; thank you so much! I’m taking notes!

    Mike Minh’s comment helped a bunch too.

    Post a Reply

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