How to Fix a Read-Only NTFS Drive on Mac OS High Sierra

posted in: MacOS, Software | 0

It is known, that NTFS file system – standard for Windows, and nowadays it is rare to see Windows being installed on older file systems like FAT32. However, when it comes to Mac OS – it’s easily working with FAT32, while by default with NTFS it’s only working in read-only mode.

There are few ways to fix a read-only issue with your NTFS drive, however they are quite different, and you will have to choose if either you want to spend money or put some effort and make it yourself for free.

Ntfs Hard Drive MacOs
NTFS Hard Drive plugged into MacBook

FREE: Make it work with Terminal, FUSE and NTFS-3G

Since Mac OS X 10.6 Apple’s NTFS mount tool was significantly extended, and it became possible to write information, and not just read it. Possible, but not available by default, and that’s the whole problem. These additional features were cut from the retail version of the MAC system: experiments with them threatened irreparable damage to the file system.

It is important to understand, that proceeding with this solution can potentially break your system, if you do it wrong. Author of the article doesn’t provide support for such a situation, you take the risk on your own!

You will need to:

  • Download (free) and install Latest release of FUSE for macOS from http://osxfuse.github.io. You will need at least version 3.0

Than open Terminal and proceed with these commands:

  • Install Homebrew package manager by pasting code below into terminal, as mentioned on their site https://brew.sh/:
/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
  • Use a command that will download NTFS-3G made by Tuxera – https://www.tuxera.com/.
brew install ntfs-3g
  • Create folder for mounting your NTFS drive (case sensitive)
sudo mkdir /Volumes/NTFS
  • Find out your username and group
id

You are looking for information in parentheses, should be something like (username) (groupname). Also take a look at the numeric id of the group, you will need it as well.

  • Change the owner of /Volumes/NTFS to yourself (case sensitive + replace username and groupname with your actual username and groupname).
sudo chown -R username:groupname /Volumes/NTFS
  • Allow other group users to read-write to drive by using this command (replace 81 with the group id you found above):
sudo sysctl -w macfuse.tunables.admin_group=81 # set
  • Plug-in your external NTFS hard drive and run a command: (just run the command if already plugged)
diskutil list

You should see output with details about all hard drives plugged in, see what identifier your NTFS drive has, should be something like disk3s1

  • Safely unplug the hard drive with a button next to it’s name in Finder (do not unplug it physically, only the button)
  • Use this command to mount NTFS hard drive to the folder you have created (replace disk1s1 with drive Identifier you have found with diskutil):
sudo /usr/local/bin/ntfs-3g /dev/disk1s1 /Volumes/NTFS -olocal -oallow_other

Now your NTFS drive should be ready for writing, if you don’t see it in the list of drives – try looking for it in /Volumes/ folder.

This solution, will only work until unplugging/rebooting. If you unplug the drive, you will have to repeat last three points of the instruction again.

There is a way to automatically mount ntfs in write mode, however it is considered a major security risk, so I didn’t try it on my Mac. If you want to try it, please read this article about automatic mounting.

PAID: Use special software from Tuxera or Paragon

If you don’t want to risk with doing it yourself for free, you can purchase apps that will do it automatically with ease.

There are two known products to fix the read-only NTFS:

  • Paragon NTFS for MAC https://www.paragon-software.com/ufsdhome/ntfs-mac/
  • Tuxera NTFS for MAC https://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac/

Both programms offer free trial, so you can try before purchasing.

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