I want to automate a call to ftp in a shell script. If I type

$ftp somehost.domain.com

I am prompted for a username and password. I want to give that username and password as part of the call to ftp. The man page for ftp says I can issue a user command at the ftp prompt -- but I want to login to ftp all in one go. Is that possible? I don't see anything in the flags for ftp. I see that the -s option give me the option of specifying some ftp commands once I have the ftp prompt -- but I need to give the user name to get to the prompt...

  • expect (a tcl/tk extension of sorts) is a program that's ideal for this sort of things - ie. wait for some prompt; give a reponse... wait for an answer; give a new response... expect wait for "ogin:" and send you username, then it wait for "assword:" and send your password. Aug 18, 2014 at 9:46

3 Answers 3


Use a .netrc file in your home directory.

The content is:

# machine <hostname> login <username> password <password>
machine ftp.example.com login myuser password $ecret

If this is something you're doing programmatically, write the .netrc before connecting, delete it when you're done.

  • is this file specific to ftp or is it read by other programs also?
    – terdon
    Feb 11, 2014 at 20:17
  • The netrc(5) man page says that it's "for ftp(1)" but I'm not sure that ftp is the only thing that will use it.
    – bahamat
    Feb 11, 2014 at 21:51
  • If you want to find your ".netrc" file just use this command: locate '.netrc'
    – goamn
    Jun 5, 2017 at 22:52

You can also write a c shell script using a here doc which would go something like this:

quote USER $USER
cd somedirectory
mget $FILES

You could also consider wput or wget as alternatives, depending on your needs.

I haven't used wget recently but I have used wput because I didn't want to create or modify files as suggested in some earlier answers.

For wput, the syntax is:

wput <filename> ftp://<username>:<password>@<address>

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