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How to FTP with your iPhone / iPod Touch

July 6, 2008
At least until the App Store launches, the only way to get native applications onto your Apple mobile device is through a jailbreak, such as the one offered by ZiPhone.  The process of jailbreaking your phone has been monumentally simplified since the release of the device. Occasionally, however, in the process of installing or using programs, 3rd party apps require a less-than-user-friendly interface.  This FTP tutorial is to help with that process.

FTP Tutorial

To use FTP, you will first need OpenSSH installed.  If you used an all-in-one solution like ZiPhone, odds are very good it's already installed.  In fact, if you used the most recent version of ZiPhone, it's guaranteed to already be installed.  So, here's the pertinent information. 1) Find out your iPhone's IP address: There's several ways to do this, and if you know a quicker one feel free to use it.  This is the universal solution, however, since every iPhone user has the same program.
  1. From your homescreen, tap on the Settings icon.  Then, tap on WiFi.
  2. Select the network you are connected to, and tap the blue arrow for advanced settings.
  3. Jot down the IP address listed.  You'll need this to connect to your iPhone.

2) Initiate a FTP session: Again, there are a plethora of options available in the FTP client department.  Just about anything will work, with one caveat: your client must support the SFTP protocol.  If you get every setting right and fail to connect using SFTP, it won't work.  Trust me, I've been there.  Personally, I use Panic Software's Transmit, because I feel it's appropriately pretty for my Mac and it's always done well by me.  So, you open up your FTP client, and enter this information in the appropriate fields:
  • SERVER: [Your IP, found in the last step]
  • USER NAME: root (all lower case)
  • PASSWORD: alpine
  • PORT: 22 (if needed, Transmit fills this in for me when I select my protocol)
  • PROTOCOL: SFTP  (Again, very important step.  I spent about an hour pulling my hair out trying to figure this out.)

Now you're connected to your iPhone!  You can transfer files, reorganize or rename them, or simply back them all up.  It also becomes handy for several applications to create folders or upload files you otherwise wouldn't be able to.

So there you go!  Easy as pie.  Mmmm, pie.  Enjoy!  And remember, there are extraordinary few things you can do to your iPhone that a Firmware Update through iTunes won't solve.  You'll have to reload your media and apps, but you won't brick your device.  Experiement!  That's what technology is there for.

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