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Downloading torrents

Using torrents, you can quickly download movies, films and other files to your Mac. A torrent is a file with the file extension .torrent. This article will explain how to download torrents on a Mac.

Are torrent files legal?

Torrent files are not illegal, but downloading copyrighted material is. However, there are many torrent files out there containing non-copyrighted material which is why we choose to publish this article.

How torrent downloads work on the Mac

Without going all geeky, we'll now try to explain how torrents work.

Someone downloads a .torrent file

The first thing that happens is that a user downloads a .torrent file. This file is very small and contains only a list of the files that are to be downloaded and some other stuff used by the user's torrent application.

Download a torrent file using your web browser

Opening the torrent

The next thing that happens is that the person that downloaded the file opens it with an application designed to handle this kind of file (more about these applications later). This application will try to find other people trying to download the same file. The torrent application will now grab pieces of the file from the other computers and put them together into one file. The user's torrent application will in its turn start to share pieces that you have downloaded with other users. You get some and you give some.

Torrent applications for the Mac

There are various torrent applications available for Mac users. In this article, we'll tell you about our favorite application, Transmission. It's simple to use and free (we're not paid to say this).


Transmission's logotype

Transmission is a great torrent application for Mac. It's easy to understand, it works pretty flawlessly and it has most of the features that one wants. To download Transmission, click here (download will begin immediately).

Adding torrent files to Transmission

Create a new download folder

Create a new download folderOkay, let's assume that you have downloaded Transmission and want to start downloading files. The first thing you should do is create a folder where your downloads will be put. For instance, name it "Downloads" and place it on your desktop.

Tell Transmission that you want your downloads to be out into that folder

Now, open Transmission and go to the top menu. Click Transmission > Preferences. In the preferences window, click the second tab labeled "Transfers". A drop-down menu is now available and from that menu, choose the folder where you want your downloads to be put (the folder you just created).

Tell Transmission that you want your downloads to be in that folder.

Get a torrent file

The next thing you do is download a .torrent file. You do this from your web browser. Find a web site that offers torrents and find a download button. When you click it, a .torrent file will be downloaded to your computer.

Open the .torrent file with Transmission

Now drag the torrent file into Transmission and it will be visible in the list. All the files that you want to download will now be created in the Downloads folder. These files are useless and broken until Transmission says that the files are 100% downloaded. You can throw the .torrent file away after adding it to Transmission.

Download problems that may occur

The torrent download won't start

The problem with torrents is that they depend on someone seeding the file from his or her computer. Seeding means that you allow other users to download parts of the file from your computer. Sometimes no users are downloading or seeding the file and therefore it can't be downloaded.

Try to find another file. Finding good torrents might be tricky, but have patience.

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Mårten Björk, author

About the Author

This article was written by Mårten Björk, the creator of this site.


Guys, I just bought the new IMac and I can't get the torrents. I mean I downloaded transmission, utorrent and when I add the torrent to them after few...

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4 comments on this article

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hey i dont know how to put the files on a cd i mostly need it 4 games so can u put a explantion please


Have you read the article "Burning files to a CD or DVD? It might help you out.

However, I'm not sure if this is enough for games or if they require a special burning process.


I've been using a Mac for years, but there is always something new that I miss. This is a great site for those who need to catch up or learn something new. I didn't understand TORRENTS until I found your article. I do have a question - how long should it take to download a torrent? One of the ones I tried has barely moved on the progress bar in 30 mins now. I have high speed broadband with OSX 10.5 on an iMac.


Guys, I just bought the new IMac and I can't get the torrents. I mean I downloaded transmission, utorrent and when I add the torrent to them after few seconds of searching peers and seed it blocks completely. It shows this message: error: read-only file system and that's it. What I can do? Please help me because I have no idea. All this Macworld is really new form me. Thank you in advance

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