Here's How: P2P file sharing under OS X

Even with the downfall of Napster/Macster, peer to peer (P2P) file sharing has become a well-estab­lished Internet institution. Interestingly, the technology is also commonly used for legitimate corporate use. Most file sharing applications now allow the sharing of multiple forms of media, including audio files such as MP3s, movies (often in the DivX format) and general software applications.

It’s important to remember that downloading files from file sharing services can potentially violate copyright laws, but there are also legal downloads available. So, while sharing copyrighted files is illegal, file sharing itself is not.

Hotline Connect now has an OS X client available. Originally started by an Australian, this service grew to a quiet popularity in the mid- to late 1990s. Ownership of the service has recently changed. The Hotline Connect Client for OS X allows users to chat, transfer files, read news, and interact with communities using its own network system.

Drumbeat, which is available at, uses the OpenNap network and claims to have over 800,000 available users, an impressive figure. The download version is a 15-day trial; it costs $US29.95 to buy the software after this period.

Myster uses Java and is therefore available across most platforms. It supports multiple media types and operates without the need for a central server. eDonkey 2000 also does away with central servers and uses its own network that operates across multiple computer platforms. You can download eDonkey for OS X from

For Gnutella-based file sharing net­works, one program you may like to try is the free Acquisition ( — supporting newer Gnutella features such as download resuming and multi-source downloads. Then, of course, there’s the ever-popular LimeWire Gnutella client that we’ll run through using. The basic version is Ad-ware; the Ad-free version costs $US9.50.


Once downloaded, installing LimeWire is a breeze on OS X compared to a PC, especially as there’s no need for added Java installations. The installer will request the directory for saving your files, your connection speed and ask if you want to scan your computer for files to share with others.

The program’s interface is very clean and easy to use. You can run multiple file searches simultaneously; each time you run a search using the left column, a new tab appears in the right of the main window. You can search for any type of file, including programs, video, documents, audio and images. Audio and video in particular have expanded search options covering everything from defining the type of clip to its file size.

At the bottom of the main search window you’ll find a download list. Click and drag the centre section upwards to view the status of your downloads. Using the buttons underneath this area, you can kill and resume incoming files.

The upper Monitor tab allows you to monitor your downloads and the Library tab is where you can also resume incomplete downloads and view or listen to completed downloads.


As at the time of writing, Kazaa offers no Mac support. However, a ‘shadow’ client called Neo is available that scans the Internet for Kazaa hosts, takes a copy of their file lists and places the list on your hard disk. If this interests you, download Neo at and read on.

When you start Neo it will instruct you to click on the toolbar’s Master List button. This makes Neo contact a central server and download a list of known Kazaa hosts found by other Neo users. On a high-bandwidth connection this took about five minutes to scan through 250 known servers. Once a fair amount of host files have been indexed, you can search by typing your query into the Search Text field — the down arrow will bring up previous searches. The media filter drop-down list allows you to limit your search to audio, images or video.

When you’ve got a list of results, you’ll note that the file size and type are displayed in columns. Clicking on a column heading will sort the results. The top-left Download and Browse Hosts buttons will do just what their names suggest. Most importantly, pressing -3 will bring up the download manager.


UNIX fans may also be interested in giFT — an open source file sharing utility ported for OS X 10.2 and used from the terminal. giFT also has a more visual in-terminal front end available. You can find more information about using and installing giFT at and, respectively.