macOS is a very exclusive operating system so that many file systems won’t fully work in it. Besides file systems by Apple, it only grants full read and write access to Microsoft FAT file system family. That is to say, Microsoft NTFS and Linux file systems are not fully compatible with macOS. However, with the Windows still dominating the market, many storage devices, especially external hard drive and solid-state drives, come with NTFS format initially.
By default, macOS won’t allow you to write anything to the NTFS-formatted disk. In this article, you will learn 3 free ways to write to NTFS drives in macOS.
Solution 1: Use NTFS for Mac app
NTFS for Mac app is an NTFS disk driver to free read write NTFS on Mac. It is very helpful if you need to use different NTFS drives in macOS on a regular basis. It is a third-party program, so it needs to be installed on Mac. When choosing such a driver, be aware of its compatibility and usability.
All you need to do is to download, install and launch it. The NTFS drives will be automatically (sometimes you may need to manually mount it) in read-write mode after it is connected to the Mac computer. Then you just directly use the drive and edit the Windows files as you like.
Solution 2: Reformat the NTFS drive in Disk Utility
If you own a brand-new and empty NTFS drive, reformatting it to a Mac-compatible file system is a good idea. If you have a lot of important files on it, reformatting is not recommended because it requires backups and time.
How to reformat a disk in Disk Utility:
- Keep the external NTFS drive connected to the Mac.
- Open Disk Utility. If you don’t know where Disk Utility is, stay on the desktop, press Command + Space bar to search for it.
- Select the name of the NTFS drive at the left sidebar. If only one volume is formatted with NTFS, extend the name and select the name of the NTFS volume instead of the whole disk.
- Click on Erase tool and fill in necessary information. If you want to use the disk on multiple OS platforms, reformat it to FAT or ExFAT. If you want to use it in a Mac environment, Mac OS Extended is the best option.
- Click Erase on the pop-up to confirm.
To take better use your external hard drive, it is highly recommended to use more than one partition. If you can’t use the NTFS on Mac, you can partition it first in Disk Utility and reformat one of the partitions as instructed above. Then you can both enjoy the advantaged Windows NTFS files system and use the disk as storage device on a Mac.
Solution 3: Enable macOS to write to NTFS file system
As mentioned before, the NTFS writing support is disabled because Apple hasn’t tested it enough. Since it can be unstable and unreliable, file and disk would be corrupted during the writing. We don’t suggest you using this method if you are handling information of value. All attempts are at your own risk.
- Open Terminal. If you don’t know where Terminal application is, use Command + Space bar keys on the desktop to search for it.
- Run command line: sudo nano /etc/fstab to edit the /etc/fstab folder.
- Input admin password if asked (no password will show up) and hit Enter.
- Run command line: LABLE=NAME none ntfs ra,auto,nobrowse in the /etc/fstab editing window and press Control + O to save the change. Remember to change the NAME to the name of your NTFS disk or volume in capital letters. Write one command line for each NTFS disk or volume.
- Press Control + X to exit the editing.
- Reconnected the NTFS device to the Mac.
- Access the NTFS-formatted device through Go at the top menu bar, Go to Folder and type in /Volumes.
For easier access, you can drag the NTFS volumes to the left sidebar to list them as independent storage devices. If you want to undo the change, follow the step 1 and 2, delete the lines in the /ect/fstab file editing window, and save the change again.
When files become read-only or locked on a Microsoft NTFS volume, don’t panic. There are plenty of free ways to be able to use the disk and make changes to the files. Besides NTFS for Mac app, reformatting, and native NTFS write support, you can also try to use Boot Camp or upload the files to cloud.