Remote Start Torrents on OS X from the iPhone

For some time I’ve been looking for an effective way to browse torrent sites on my iPhone and be able to get my Mac to download the torrent.

Several Cumbersome Approaches

I found several solutions, including:

Each of these ways worked but was too clumsy. The first had to be reinstalled with any new version of Transmission and is likely to break.  The second involved Safari Download Manager, which as of this moment has not been updated for iOS 5, or a similar Cydia Safari tweak called Safari DownPlugin iOS 5 which I found highly unsatisfactory (and uninstalled). The third was sleek but involved too many steps and – gasp – typing. I wanted this to be as natural and automated as possible.

Best Approach

The best way I found is this:

Use the Atomic Web Browser to download the torrent file, then use its built-in Dropbox integration to upload it to dropbox, and then set Transmission auto add torrents from a designated watch folder.

Of course you will need a Dropbox account. Make a “Downloads” folder, and then both set Atomic to upload to that Dropbox folder and set Transmission to watch it.

Another bittorrent client might work just as well as long as it has a watch folder feature. Also, another iOS browser capable of downloading files and supporting Dropbox integration would also work.

If you’re not using another watch folder in Transmission, that’s it!  Very simple.

Multiple Watch Folders

Unfortunately for me, Transmission can only be set to watch one folder to auto add torrents. And I have a default download folder – not a dropbox folder – that it watches already.  Some other torrent clients may already support multiple watch folders, in which case again, it’s easy.

But if you’re in the same boat, the best solution I found so far is to set up a system to automatically move torrent files from the designated dropbox Downloads folder to the default system Downloads folder.

Here are two ways to do that:

  1. make an Automator action (or write an AppleScript) and have it triggered by a Folder Action. (the easy way but not terribly reliable.)
  2. write an AppleScript and have it triggered by launchd (much more reliable).  Here’s some discussion about how to use launchd instead of Folder Actions.   If there is sufficient interest in this I may put together a tutorial later.


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