You need your BitTorrent fix on such a regular basis that it could be medically labeled an addiction, so why stop riding the BitTorrent wave just because you aren’t sitting at your home computer? We’ve already detailed how to set up a web interface for the Windows-only uTorrent, so let’s turn an eye to Transmission, the go-to BitTorrent client on the Mac. Today I’ll show you how to remotely control your BitTorrent downloads from any browser with Clutch, the Transmission web interface.
Although Transmission Clutch is Mac-only Clutch can be run on basically any non-Windows system, but this guide focuses on Clutch for the Mac. You can control your Transmission downloads from virtually any browser on any platform, so in a roundabout way Clutch makes Transmission pseudo-cross-platform Windows-friendly for remote control purposes. If you’re a Windows user, check out how to remote control BitTorrent downloads with uTorrent.
Grab the Necessary Apps
Before we get started there are a couple of things you need. First, if you don’t have it already, download and install Transmission. Next grab a copy of Clutch, the application that runs the web interface for Transmission. Got ’em? Good, let’s move on.
Give Clutch the Initial Test
Now launch both Transmission and Clutch. Transmission will end up in your dock, while Clutch will find its home in the menu bar. When both are running, point your browser to http://localhost:9091/. If all goes well, you should see an almost exact replica of the Transmission interface in your web browser—looking something like the screenshot below..
Likewise, if you know your internal IP address (the address given to each computer by your router), you could access the interface from another computer on your home network by pointing it to that IP address and appending the port (the :9091 part) to the end of the URL. For example, on my local network I can access Clutch from any computer by going to http://192.168.1.2:9091/.
From the Clutch web interface you can start new BitTorrent downloads, pause or resume others, throttle your bandwidth, and do almost everything else you can do from the actual Transmission interface.
That’s a good start, and if it’s enough for your needs you can stop there. But as is you can’t yet remotely access the Clutch web interface from outside your home network—at work, for example—and since internal IP addresses can change over time, you won’t always know where to access the interface from computers on your local network. Let’s fix that.
Set a Static IP Address for Easy Bookmarking
To start off, a little router 101. To connect to the internet, your internet service provider gives you one public IP address. Unless you’re only hooking one computer directly up to the internet, you need a router. The router distributes the internet connection between all of your computers by assigning local IP addresses. Those local addresses mean nothing to the outside world, so in order for your router to know which computer you want to talk to when you try to load Clutch’s Transmission interface from outside your network, you need to tell your router which internal IP address should be receiving requests on the Clutch port (which, by default, is 9091).
The easiest way to do this is to set up a static (i.e., non-changing) IP address for the computer running Transmission and then forward all requests for the 9091 port to that IP address.
Whether or not that explanation made any sense to you, if you want to set up Clutch so you can access it the same way, no matter where you are, here’s how:
First we’ll set up the static IP address for the computer running Clutch. Go to your router’s admin page and find the section for setting static IP addresses. Using the killer router firmware Tomato, which I showed you how to set up last week, that’s at http://192.168.1.1/basic-static.asp. Now you’ll need to find out your computer’s MAC address, which is a unique combination of letters and numbers that identifies your computer to your router. In Windows, open a command line prompt and type
ipconfig/all. You’ll see a tonne of text, but your MAC address will be listed as Physical Address. On a Mac, run the Network Utility app. Your MAC address is listed as Hardware Address. Write down the address and head back to your router admin page.
Now enter in the MAC address and then the static IP address you want for that computer. You should use an address similar to what your router has already assigned, so it’ll probably look something like 192.168.1.2 or something along those lines. Just pick an address you like and save it. Next time your computer connects to the internet through your router, your router will automatically assign it that local, static IP address. That means that now you can bookmark
http://192.168.1.2:9091 (or whatever address you used) on any computer on your network and it will always bring up Clutch.
Set Up Port Forwarding for Access Outside Your Network
If you want to remote control your BitTorrent downloads from outside your local network—say from work—you need to set up port forwarding. So find the port forwarding section of your router’s administration page (for Tomato, you’ll find it here: http://192.168.1.1/forward-basic.asp). By default Clutch uses port 9091, so you’ll want to set your router to always forward that port to your newly set up static IP address. We’ve already walked you through the port forwarding rigmarole once before, but for the sake of completeness I’ll cover the crash course here. Just enter the IP address you set up above as the internal address, set 9091 as the external port, and if you have the option, add a description like “Transmission Web UI Clutch.”
Save those settings and now whenever you want to access your Clutch interface from outside of your home network—from work, for example—you can simply point your browser to your external IP address and your router will know which computer to route it to.
Top It Off with a Human-Readable URL
If you really want to step up your Clutch remote control web access, you’ll want to assign a domain name to your computer using a free service like DynDNS. After you’ve set up a domain for your home web server, you’ll be able to access your Clutch/Transmission web interface from anywhere by pointing your browser to an address like
http://myclutchui.selfip.com:9091, which is a good deal easier than remember a random collection of numbers like
http://76.123.456.789:9091. We’ve actually walked you through this process in detail in the past, so I won’t go into detail here.
Set a Password
If you’ve got Clutch set up so you can access it from outside your home network, you’ll definitely want to set up a password in the Clutch preferences. Likewise, if you plan on using it often, set it to start at login.
We’ve covered other methods of remotely starting or controlling your BitTorrent downloads, from the Windows-only uTorrent web interface to remotely starting new downloads over IM, but if you’ve got your own preferred methods let’s hear them in the comments.
Adam Pash is a senior editor for Lifehacker who likes to control his business no matter where he’s at. His special feature Hack Attack appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker AU.