Transmission vs uTorrent [Mac Only]

Jackson Chung 07-12-2008

transmission vs utorrentBitRocket, Xtorrent, Tomato Torrent, BitTyrant, Bits on Wheels. These are some of the torrent clients for OS X. But let’s be honest, they probably don’t sound familiar to you because they’re outshone by the two gargantuas of the torrent world, Vuze (formerly known as Azureus) and Transmission, a lightweight but very capable torrent client.


Prior to switching to a Mac, Azureus has always been my torrent client of choice on my Windows PC. At that time, there weren’t many other clients for it to compete with and even though it was heavy on memory usage, I’d still prefer it over ABC or BitLord. Yes, it was that long ago.

After I got my hands on my first Mac, I was hoping to seek comfort in the soft familiar bosom of Azureus but I found myself sorely disappointed. I was running Tiger on a Mac Mini with 1GB of memory, so imagine what would happen if I opened Azureus, iTunes and Safari at the same time. Spinning Beachball galore. So, I turned to Transmission.

Back then, Transmission was still a young child yet to be nurtured. It was buggy and I had to depend on nightly builds to get the most of the application. What made matters worse, Transmission was not allowed on most torrent sites which kept a record of their user ratio. So, I had to revert back to Azureus and suffer the endless wrath of the beachball.

A lot has happened since then. uTorrent debuted as a lightweight torrent client for Windows and has been hugely successful. Azureus is now known as Vuze due to its “legal” content. And Transmission is finally usable – actually it is more than just that, it turned out to be pretty darn great.

A few months ago, I was reading about how good Transmission has become. A lot of Mac users were trying to use Transmission to trump Vuze and the other way around. I decide to investigate this myself and see how transmission compares vs. Vuze.


Finally, a Transmission I can depend on. It has been smooth sailing so far. Compared to Vuze, Transmission is so much quicker to launch, much lighter to run and causes less strain on my Mac. Previously, my MacBook would run a little slower every time a torrent completes and Vuze starts to verify the downloaded data. Transmission doesn’t even have that feature – a blessing in disguise. Nevertheless, my downloaded data is always perfectly spot on.

Then uTorrent comes along, with its strong Windows pedigree, hoping to penetrate into the Mac torrent world. Has it succeeded? Not quite.

transmission vs vuze

With all the devoted Transmission fans, it is not easy for this New Kid On The Block to instantly change the minds of those who have helped Transmission become what it is today. Based on uTorrent’s marketing campaign: Lightweight, Feature rich and High Performance; being vague is not going to help it to supersede Transmission. One could also use those exact words to describe Transmission, so what’s the difference? What is the main defining quality of uTorrent that will make the committed Transmission users to switch over? As far as I can see, there is none.


uTorrent for Mac is currently in beta, which means that it is still under heavy development. It is not as “Feature rich” as they make it sound, a quick sift through its preferences reveal nothing spectacular. It is almost identical to Transmission. Have a look at their settings below: Transmission is on the left, uTorrent is on the right.

Transmission vs uTorrent (Settings Menu)

transmission vs utorrent

Compared with its Windows brethren, uTorrent for Mac isn’t even capable of selective file downloading from torrents with multiple files; and doesn’t include support for RSS feeds. Futhermore, it is Leopard only, a big turn off since most of the users who are looking forward to this application would probably be running it on older machines.

So, the answer is No. uTorrent is not a viable option for Transmission. At least not yet. But if you still want to give it a chance, you may download it here. Let us know what is missing from uTorrent and whether or not you’d switch over from Transmission.


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  1. ghost
    January 23, 2010 at 3:14 am

    I've been using transmission on mac for about a year, and have reached my max download speed countless times.(sometimes with one torrent, sometimes with multiple). I Will be testing utorrent for mac, to see how it runs. Also I haven't seen a feature in utorrent for mac to 'ignore unencrypted peers'.

    • Johnny
      January 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      to ignore unencrypted peers in utorrent there go to preferences and select FORCE for encrypted outgoing cnnxions.

      I dont think transmission ignores them completely, because if you ignore incoming connections, your speed will be zero.

      by the way, Utorrent is faster for me than any other client I ve ever used. Vuze is too slow, both in downloading section and in its operation. It is always doing something, my mac gets slow because of it.

      • ghost
        January 31, 2010 at 3:39 am

        why would your speed be zero if you ignore unencrypted peers with transmission? Wont you just only download from peers that also have encryption enabled?

  2. Shawn
    January 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I've noticed that with the mac uTorrent, that once it's closed out and re-opened. Preferences you set are reverted to default.

    An example is when I change my download location to a torrent specific folder, it' reverts to my user home DL folder. So I have to pause all torrents on quit, re-open, change DL location, and resume all torrents.

    My conclusion is that I'm not going to switch to uTorrent (At least not until it gets better) I started with BitTorrent's app, then tried Transmission and used it ever since.

  3. Lawrence
    September 3, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Having tested both extensively, I can report that each client favours peers using their own software. This is astounding but I can verify this 100% on my mac!

    The same torrent file on uTorrent shows a list of peers with approx 70% using uTorrent, while Transmission's peers for the same torrent shows peers mostly using Transmission.

    If this observation is correct across the board, and since uTorrent is massive in the PC sector, you could get a wider pool of uTorrent peers from which to choose. This may have an impact on the average download rate of the swarm.

  4. Kovac
    August 6, 2009 at 12:06 am

    First of all, a rant. Bad, bad Johnny Boy. Don't be so stingy, so greedy. Seed. Forever. Not everything, mind you - when I don't like a file, I don't want other people to be disappointed with it as well. But my favourites, oh boy - I got one at 30 ratio, and counting. I will only stop seeding when I delete the file itself.

    Now, to business.

    Even though everyone else is already saying it, I feel the need to repeat it once again. And I hate to admit that something originally meant for Windows works better than the one for Unix. But, here goes truth:

    My connection isn't very fast (top speed is ~200kB/s down, ~60 up). uTorrent gets me there, allowing me to use the whole potential of my cheap connection.

    Transmission doesn't.

    I pick uTorrent. End of story.

  5. i2ehan
    August 5, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Couldn't disagree more. Don't take my word for it however, try it for yourself: download the latest uTorrent beta, enable port forwarding, and you'll witness a substantial increase in your DL speed; and I mean substantial! I am virtually capped out at my max DL speed, it's insane! Tip: Since some clients limit the minimum required upload speed (otherwise, the download ratio is drastically affected), even at 10kB/s UL limit, your DL speed can cap at max! Use this only when necessary however, don't leech! Keep in mind, others are sacrificing their speed for your downloads, so seed people, seed!!! :)

  6. Bradley
    April 10, 2009 at 6:22 am

    I'm excited to see uTorrent on the Mac and started using it right away. Sometimes though, with big files (like 3+GB) it starts to stall out on me and has to be restarted before it will continue downloading. It recognizes available peers but just doesn't start transferring data. Out or In.

    • rakoth
      May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm

      Right, noticed that too.

  7. petar
    March 30, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    i am using utorrent. before i used transmission. with both clients i got download speeds of 1.5MB. personally, i think utorrent is more stable.

  8. simon
    March 15, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Utorrent is not great on features it is true, BUT and its a big BUT, I have found it to be much much faster that Transmission. I have a Mac pro with 8gigs of Ram and a 20 mB broadband connection on a dynamic IP address.. Utorrent downloads regularly at up to 2mb/sec which is more than double the speed i can get with Transmission. Also with Transmission I would often lose connections for some reason.

    Utorrent is bound to get better and I think will become the 1st choice for Mac users sooner than later


  9. ss
    March 6, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    ok, this is about utorrent vs transmission on the mac, but really, i haven't found vuze to be much of a hog at all, and it's the most feature rich client available, although it can be used in dum dum mode. i have a fairly new macbook, but my activity monitor says it uses between 6-11% cpu (on a core 2 duo) and 109 mb of real memory (1GB virtual). this is not bad considering i have 106 torrents and quite a few over 4gb & 2 over 20gb and 1 over 50GB.

    bit tryant is something to consider looking into as well.

  10. bobberto
    February 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    i would just like to say that i was a loyal utorrent user on pc and when i switched to mac i started using transmission. transmission is great but when utorrent for mac came out i had to make the switch...although utorrent has a LONG way to go, i still prefer using it and there are many features times aren't that different and i don't mind selecting files during the downlaod

  11. Skwang
    February 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    uTorrent has been considerably and consistently faster for me than Transmission.

  12. darkstar13
    February 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Disregard everything that Jackson has said in the comments. He obviously does not know a thing he is talking about...

    First, Transmission does offer groups/categorization.

    Secondly, although Transmission does not include RSS feeds you can easily implement this. The developers have noted that they do not have any plans in the near future for built-in RSS, but a developer has made an app called Automatic to do this work for you. It is a simple helper that runs from System Prefs and manages all of your RSS feeds! Really nice! Get it? Automatic Transmission... catchy.

    All in all... I have run uTorrent on my Mac, Transmission on my Mac, a plethora of clients on Windows, Transmission daemon on a FreeNAS. I have come to enjoy Transmission on my Mac and can even live with the WebGUI on my FreeNAS for Transmission downloads directly to the server.

    • Jackson
      February 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm

      Excuse me. Before you start to accuse someone of not knowing a thing, people make mistakes.

      Now, Sean was referring to Transmission for Linux. I may not know what features it has or doesn't but I didn't deny that it did. The point I was trying to get across about Transmission was its simplicity.

  13. K
    February 6, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    After testing both, I have to say that uTorrent is getting much better connection speeds than Transmission. This is a shame, since I like Transmissions features better. It gives you more control over download location, specific files, tones to notify you when the download is complete, custom seed settings per file, etc. Transmission also has built in blocklist feature. So to use uTorrent, I have to run PeerGuardian, which has the negative side affect of blocking, stopping my clock time synchronization. I have to add a custom allow list get around this. On a positive note, uTorrent takes up much less CPU cycles. Transmission was running 22 on average, and uTorrent is taking about 4 cycles. Between CPU load and network speed, uTorrent wins.

    • K
      February 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm

      Don't know who the guy with the ponytail is, but this is my first, well now... second post. And the forum added the picture automatically. Must be another K out there. So to the other K, my apologies.

    • Tristan
      February 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm

      I second this. µTorrent appears to be doing better than transmission at being lightweight and at download speed and peer management.

      The latest versions of Transmissions stopped working for me recently on top of that. 0 peers, never connects. µTorrent it is.

  14. Mike Anderson
    February 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I switched to uTorrent from Transmission because I liked the look and feel better, and also because I was downloading to NFS (big mistake), Transmission spent most of it's time checking data. I missed the webUI capability in Transmission a lot, and it would be one of the features uTorrent would have to match. Transmission seems to download faster, and just seems more stable. I hooked up a local drive for my downloads and have moved back to Transmission where I'll stay until something overwhelming in uTorrent can bring me back.

  15. Densets
    January 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Well, there is still no graph in uTorrent. Its one of the things i look for in a mac client but havent still found one yet, besides Torrent station which i cant get cuz the web no longer exists. I need the graph . For now i use windows utorrent with crossover becuase it has a graph. hope they get that feature running.

  16. Juan
    January 20, 2009 at 4:00 am

    I have just switched to mac and was using utorrent previously on Pc. I have noticed that the speed has greatly reduced on the mac version. I was previously getting total download speeds up to 800kbps with my upload limited to 5kbps. Now with the same settings I seem to only hit 30kbps max, doesn't matter how many files I'm downloading 30kbps total is all it will get. Feels like i've gone back to 1999 with my dial up modem. If I set uploads to unlimited then the download goes up heaps but my ISP counts uploads towards my monthly usage so I can't afford to do that.

    Any suggestions?

    • Jackson
      January 20, 2009 at 6:58 am

      There's a balance between your download and upload speeds when you limit the upload. You will find that uTorrent will give you a better download speed when you increase the upload slightly. Say 30KB/s.

  17. Johnny Boy
    January 1, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I notice that you can manually select the upload and download speeds on both programs. The problem I have with utorrent on mac is the same thing I didn't like about it on windows. If you set download for unlimited and then limit the upload, it automatically limits your download. Not so with transmission. I can set it for unlimited download and a stingy 5kb upload and it works just fine without seeing the need to penalize my download speed. On utorrent, I tried to limit my seed ratio to 1. All it did was just keep uploading. Not so with transmission. It will cut off at 1 like I set it to.

    • Lucas
      April 17, 2009 at 8:03 am

      This "feature" is the reason why transmission is denied in so many trackers. It doesn't respect the protocol correctly. With torrents, you take what you give, in other words, the bigger is your upload rate, the bigger will be your download rate. Servers and clients have to stick for that for an just torrent world. Transmission tricks that, and download everything, not giving the other poor leechers their piece of the cake. uTorrent not, it's completely addicted to the rules!

  18. andrew Tillcock
    December 30, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Michael W i also have utorrent same version as you.Did you port forward and if so what are the port numbers because i am only seeing speeds of between 40 and 50.
    Any tips would be nice.

  19. Michael W
    December 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    ive been using UTorrent for mac for about a week now. Its no longer beta, (13906). I use to use transmission. Once I saw speeds over 400kbps I was sold... even with an open port router transmission never got over 200. Uploading ajustment is in the UI Window... Seeding ratio.... its the best... Until Transmission can top those speeds, ile go back =)


    • andrew Tillcock
      December 30, 2008 at 5:14 pm

      ive been using UTorrent for mac for about a week now. Its no longer beta, ,Me too but cannot get speeds above 40-50kbps.
      I am using an airport extreme on a home network and was looking for some help/tips.
      I used to have bittornado on my win and dynex router forwarded and could get speeds of over 300 kbps on good days and would love to return to that.HELP

  20. Alex
    December 28, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Transmission definately is better than it used to be. But in general, it's slower than utorrent on windows, on the same torrents. I checked out utorrent mac and while it's still a little early and it's missing some things, it's faster than Transmission is. Also I disagree that Transmission has a better UI design. Having a separate modal info window is really annoying when you want to look at details. utorrent mac's approach is much better with the in window pane.

    I just see utorrent ramp up quicker on torrents and sustain better overall downloads. Either way, they're both great clients. Oh, and it's not true that you can't Group files in Transmission, it does have a very robust Grouping and Color coding system.

  21. Derek
    December 28, 2008 at 2:35 am

    I use both for different purposes... I was a diehard Transmission fan for over a year, but now that utorrent is out for the mac, I am getting significantly faster speeds out of it than I ever did with Transmission using Pirate Bay as my primary source for torrents and thus use it more often.

  22. thewallis1992
    December 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I just find Transmission overall easier to use, plus it doesn't use as much memory, which is a big bonus considering I only have 1GB of RAM on my Leopard. And I agree with Jackson about the design ("Transmission has much, much nicer design.")

    • Jackson
      January 20, 2009 at 6:52 am

      It's simpler, don't you think?

  23. Hacker.Pizza
    December 11, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    There is a good reason why Transmission is shunned by so many. Without getting technical there is a problem with it that can make transfers like talking on walkie talkies on two different frequencies. It's not quite THAT bad, but it has a similar issue.
    That said uTorrent doesn't seem to let you change the download location. I'm going to wait until they fix that before I really try it out.

  24. iFredde
    December 8, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I downloaded utorrent for mac and tested it, it's good and works but I still like transmission better. Transmission has much, much nicer design and torrent view... also I like how transmission have info on torrents and preferences on torrents come up in a new small window, only with a single cmd-i.
    I'll continue to use transmission cus I trust and belive in them still, to beat utorrrent.

  25. Sean Meyer
    December 7, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    I don't really know about Mac, but on my linux machine I personally having been running uTorrent through wine because it's just so much better than transmission. Running it through wine is a bit slower and less resonsive than running it on windows, and still I'd use it at half that speed before I would ever touch transmission.

    Maybe the transmission on linux is just nowhere near the mac version, but it seems extremely bare to me. There's no labeling, no RSS, no sort of categorization at all. I've been looking for a replacement to uTorrent through Wine and haven't really found it yet.

    • Jackson
      December 8, 2008 at 6:25 am

      Well, Transmission's motto is all about simplicity so it doesn't boast RSS or categorization. It just helps you to quickly download what you want. In comparison, uTorrent on Windows has a RSS downloader, which just adds to the disappointment when we find out that it isn't included in the Mac version.

      • Consine
        February 23, 2009 at 8:20 am

        Actually Transmission does have categorization, it's called groups and works similarly to labels in Finder.

    • Callum
      August 17, 2009 at 7:44 pm

      haha you cant compare anything on linux to mac
      especially when its ran through an emulator

      • Bob
        November 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm

        you're right, mac is slow as crap compared to linux

  26. SilverTab
    December 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    "uTorrent for Mac isn’t even capable of selective file downloading from torrents with multiple files"

    I have no problems selecting individual files for torrents with multiple files here... I just select a torrent, go to the "Files" section, select the files I don't want, Ctrl-Click and select "Do not download"...

    • Jackson Chung
      December 7, 2008 at 3:29 pm

      I meant, the option of selecting the files from multiple-file torrents before downloading. Not during.

      • Tristan
        February 21, 2009 at 1:28 pm

        A minor and insignificant difference...

      • Matthew
        March 8, 2009 at 9:06 am

        Same as on Windows just set uTorrent to not automatically start downloads when you add them, then you can manually specify to skip certain files in a torrent. Though it does not yet have the pop-up dialog like in Windows version when you disable auto-start of downloads.