Microsoft developed the NTFS file system for Windows devices. It helps organize and manage files on your computer's hard drives. Since Microsoft created it, it's unavailable for Mac computers.
We've prepared a guide to explain if you can read and write to a NTFS drive on Mac. Moreover, you will learn how to write on the NTFS drive on a Mac for free. With the methods below, you'll unlock Apple NTFS write support free of charge.
Table of Content
- Install NTFS-3G Drivers
- Format Your NTFS Drive to the exFAT or FAT32 in Mac Disk Utility
- Write to the NTFS on Mac Using Virtualization Tools
- Enable NTFS Writing in Terminal (Older Mac Versions)
- Use Boot Camp Assistant to Install Windows on a Mac
- Move NTFS Drive Files to the Cloud
- Use a Third-Party Mounting Tool to Write to NTFS on Mac
Is It True That Mac Can Read NTFS Drives?
Yes, it is true that Mac can read NTFS drives. By default, macOS has built-in support to read NTFS-formatted drives, allowing you to view and copy files from an NTFS drive to your Mac. This read-only support has been available since Mac OS X 10.3 Panther and continues to be present in newer macOS versions, including macOS Sonoma.
However, macOS does not have native write support for NTFS drives, which means you cannot modify or write files to an NTFS drive on Mac without using third-party software or workarounds. Some popular third-party solutions for enabling write support on NTFS drives include Paragon NTFS for Mac, Tuxera NTFS for Mac, and Mounty for NTFS. However, these third-party tools for fixing external hard drive read-only on Mac require payment. But don't worry, there are ways to write to NTFS on Mac for free. Proceed to the next section to learn how.
Top 7 Methods to Write to the NTFS on Mac for Free
As mentioned, Mac computers don't support writing to NTFS devices. However, by adjusting some settings, you can use that option and read and write to the NTFS on your Mac. Check out our step-by-step guides to allowing users to write to the NTFS on Mac free of charge.
Method 1. Install NTFS-3G Drivers
One way to overcome the write restriction for NTFS drives on Mac is to install NTFS-3G drivers. They are free to download and use but complicated to install. They mount the Microsoft NTFS drives in read-write mode, allowing you to read and write to the NTFS on your Mac.
Unfortunately, the mounting process has changed since Apple's macOS Ventura update. Thus, installing NTFS-3G drivers won't work on macOS 13 Ventura.
Follow these steps carefully to install NTFS-3G drivers on your Mac:
- Open Finder and go to Applications.
- Go to Utilities and open Terminal.
- Type this command in the Terminal:
xcode-select -- install. Click Install.
- Download and install macFuse. Follow the on-screen prompts to install it and use the default options.
- Return to the Terminal window and type the following command:
brew install homebrew/fuse/ntfs-3g. Press Enter.
- Turn off the SIP (System Integrity Protection), which protects macOS from unauthorized changes. Restart your Mac computer, press Control + R, and hold the keys until you see the Apple logo.
- Open Terminal and run this command:
- Reboot your Mac computer.
- Once your computer turns on, go to Terminal again and run the following command:
sudo mv /sbin/mount_ntfs /sbin/mount_ntfs.original sudo ln -s /usr/local/sbin/mount_ntfs /sbin/mount_ntfs.
Method 2. Format Your NTFS Drive to the exFAT or FAT32 in Mac Disk Utility
While the NTFS is compatible only with Windows, the exFAT and FAT32 formats are compatible with Mac and Windows. Thus, if you format your NTFS drive to the FAT32 or exFAT, you can use the NTFS read-write mode.
However, formatting will erase all data stored on the drive. You need to back up all essential files using a Windows computer first. If you don't have a Windows PC, you can also use a hard drive recovery software to recover data from the hard drive after formatting.
To format your NTFS drive to the exFAT or FAT32 file system, follow these steps:
- Go to Utilities and open Disk Utility.
- Select your NTFS drive and click Erase.
- Select exFAT or FAT32 in the Format section and click Erase.
If you lost important files after formatting the NTFS drive to exFAT, download and install Wondershare Recoverit and follow the video tutorial below to get them back.
Method 3. Write to the NTFS on Mac Using Virtualization Tools
Another way to write to the NTFS on Mac for free is to use Windows virtualization tools or a virtual machine. A virtual machine can help you manage the virtual environment on your computer. More importantly, virtualization tools can grant you access to the write mode of your NTFS drive on your Mac computer.
However, ensure your Mac computer has enough space, as a Windows virtual machine takes up around 50 GB of storage. Follow these steps to install virtualization software to help you write to the NTFS:
- Download and install the desired virtualization software like VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop on your Mac.
- Launch it and install Windows ISO within the virtualization program.
- Follow the instructions provided by the virtualization software to create a new virtual machine using the Windows installation image. This process will involve configuring the virtual machine's settings, such as allocating RAM and disk space.
- Once the virtual machine is created, start it up and go through the standard Windows installation process.
- After installing Windows, plug in your NTFS drive to your Mac and open Windows File Explorer. Your NTFS drive should appear as a connected drive, enabling you to read and write files just as you would on a native Windows system.
Method 4. Enable NTFS Writing in Terminal (Older Mac Versions)
Another free way to use the write mode for NTFS drives on your Mac is to enable it in Terminal. However, this method can work only on older Mac versions, so if you have a newer macOS version, this method won't work.
Remember to back up your Mac computer before proceeding with this method, as it could result in data loss. Follow these steps to enable NTFS writing on a Mac in Terminal:
- Open Terminal on your Mac and connect your NTFS drive.
- Type the sudo nano /etc/fstab command and press Enter.
- Type the following command: LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse (replace NAME with the title of your NTFS volume). Then, click Control + O to save it and press Enter.
- Go to Finder > Go. Type /Volumes in the Go to the folder section and click Go.
- You'll be able to find your read-write NTFS drive there.
Method 5. Use Boot Camp Assistant to Install Windows on a Mac
Boot Camp is a boot utility allowing users to install Windows operating systems on Mac devices. It's a safe way to enable NTFS drives for Mac computers. Boot Camp is straightforward and provides on-screen instructions for each Windows installation step.
However, Boot Camp isn't available on Macs with Apple Silicon chipsets, which include macOS Big Sur, Monterey, and Ventura.
Follow the video tutorial below to install Windows alongside macOS using Boot Camp Assistant:
Method 6. Move NTFS Drive Files to the Cloud
For the last free method, you can try using a cloud service like iCloud to handle your NTFS files. Even if your files are on an NTFS drive, online cloud services will sync them instantly without a problem. Therefore, you can try moving the files from your NTFS drive to the cloud to edit and share them.
Follow these steps to do so:
- Click Finder and open your Windows NTFS drive.
- Copy the files you need from it and paste them to the iCloud Drive folder.
That will sync your NTFS files to your iCloud, where you can share them.
Method 7. Use a Third-Party Mounting Tool to Write to NTFS on Mac
As we've established, Mac doesn't support the write mode for NTFS, so you must use third-party software to enable it. Numerous mounting tools can help you write to the NTFS drive, such as Mounty for Mac, FUSE, SYSGeeker NTFS, Paragon NTFS, Tuxera NTFS, and iBoysoft NTFS.
They're all similar, so we'll show you an example of using a mounting tool to enable write mode to the NTFS on Mac. Follow these simple steps to use a mounting tool on your Mac:
- Download and install the desired mounting tool.
- Connect your NTFS drive to the Mac computer where you installed the software.
- Once you mount it, you can read and write to NTFS files on your Mac computer.
For detailed information, you can visit the article Top 8 Free NTFS for Mac Software.
If you have an NTFS drive that you want to access on your Mac device, you'll notice that it's in read-only mode. Since Microsoft developed the NTFS, it's available only to Windows users.
However, there are several ways to enable the write option to the NTFS on your Mac for free. You can install NTFS-3G drivers, reformat it to the exFAT or FAT32 format, use virtualization software or a mounting tool, enable write mode in Terminal, try Boot Camp Assistant, or move the NTFS files to iCloud.