How to Read and Write NTFS on Mac in 5 Ways

Posted to Troubleshooting Tips by William on June 8, 2022 | Approved by Jennifer Allen

Microsoft NTFS, short for NT File System, is the default file system for most storage devices used on Windows PC. It has gotten great improvement in data transfer speed, stability, and disk space usage compared with the other file systems, like FAT. However, it’s only for Windows, not for macOS. There will be some problems when using NTFS hard disk in macOS.

Can Mac read NTFS hard drive for free? After connecting an NTFS hard drive with your Mac, you can see it appears in the menu bar for mount or unmount. Sure, it can be recognized by your macOS. However, the hard drive is read-only on Mac, which means you can view the files in NTFS hard drive on Mac, but you can’t copy, paste, transfer, edit or even delete files on the NTFS hard drive at all. Mac can read NTFS for free.

Can Mac read and write NTFS drive? Mac can read NTFS, but not write NTFS. You can view files on the NTFS hard drive but can do nothing to make any change.

How to read and write NTFS hard drive on Mac? You can’t read and write NTFS on Mac, and it doesn’t mean you can’t change the status. There are workarounds you can try to change it. At least, 5 ways to enable read and write NTFS on Mac are available.

How Do I Enable NTFS Hard Drive Read and Write on Mac? Get to Know the 5 Ways Available

Quick Navigation
Way 1. Make NTFS Drvie Read and Write on Mac – Format NTFS for FAT32
Way 2. Enable NTFS Hard Drive Write Support in Terminal
Way 3. Use Boot Camp to Read and Write NTFS Disk on Mac
Way 4. Try Third-Party Free NTFS Drivers for Mac
Way 5. Move NTFS Files to Cloud and Get Access on Mac

Way 1. Make NTFS Drvie Read and Write on Mac – Format NTFS for FAT32

The simplest way to make NTFS read and write on Mac is by formatting the NTFS to macOS compatible file system. Taking the device usability for both Windows PC and Mac into consideration, the preferred format is FAT. If you will not use the NTFS hard drive on Windows PC and only use it on Mac, then you can also convert external hard drive to APFS, Mac OS Extended, etc.

Please note since how to store files in FAT is quite different from NTFS, while formatting the NTFS to FAT32, you will not only face the fact that all files will be erased during the formatting, but also it’s high risk to save files in FAT32 due to its stability and the way to save files (save files in a cluster).

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility. Launch Disk Utility.
  2. Click the NTFS hard drive in the left panel (if you don’t see it, click View > select Show All Devices), and click "Erase" on the top of the window.
  3. In the new window, select MS-DOS (FAT) as the file system. Wait for the formatting process to finish.

What if you forget to backup files before formatting NTFS to FAT? What a pity that all the files on the NTFS hard drive will be erased and you can’t see them anywhere after the formatting. The good news is that you can try free Mac data recovery software to scan the hard drive, checking whether it is possible to recover the erased files. iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac is a trustworthy tool you can try to display all the recoverable files for free. Here are the steps for using it to recover files from a NTFS hard drive.

  1. Keep the formatted FAT hard drive connected with your Mac.
  2. Download and install iBeesoft Mac Data Recovery software. It’s virus-free and easy to use. Feel free to use it.
  3. Launch it, from the first window, click "Start". By default, it will scan all the recoverable files.
  4. Next, you need to click the "Scan" option beside the formatted hard drive. It begins to scan the hard drive, looking for all the recoverable files. During the scanning process, if any erased videos and images are corrupted, the software will fix them automatically.
  5. When the scanning process is finished, you can see all the recoverable files are put into categories. By selecting any category in the left panel and you can preview the files on the right side. Select the needed files and click "Recover" to save them to a new location on your Mac.

Please note that even though the data recovery success rate of iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac is as high as 99.65%, it’s still not 100% to recover all the erased files from a formatted hard drive. The secret to recovering as many as files you can is to perform the data recovery as soon as possible. The sooner the better result you will get.

Way 2. Enable NTFS Hard Drive Write Support in Terminal

Terminal command on Mac will enable NTFS to write support as well. Apple hasn’t officially supported NTFS writing yet. That’s why using Terminal to enable NTFS write can be risky which will result in disk corruption and data loss. Before using Terminal to enable NTFS write, you’d better back up the NTFS hard drive data first.

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities, find and open Terminal.
  2. Type in sudo nano /etc/fstab, press Enter.
  3. Type in Mac computer login password, press Enter.
  4. Type in LABEL=DRIVENAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse, press Enter. (You need to replace DRIVENAME as the real name for the NTFS hard drive).
  5. Press Control + O.
  6. Press Control + X.
  7. In Finder, click "Go" > "Go to Folder". Type in /Volumes/NAME (replace the name with the NTFS hard drive). After then, you can read and write on NTFS hard drive on Mac.

Way 3. Use Boot Camp to Read and Write NTFS Disk on Mac

Bootcamp is the option offered by Apple to allow you to run Windows on Mac. That’s why you can make use of it to read and write on NTFS hard drive. It will get everything you needed for running on Mac. However, it is only available for macOS 10.15 Catalina and former versions, not for Big Sur and Monterey yet. And it will delete all your old Time Machine backup files. Make sure you don’t have important Time Machine backup files before using it to read and write NTFS on Mac.

You just need to install Bootcamp and boot your Mac in Windows operating system. After then, you can open NTFS for data to read and write easily.

Way 4. Try Third-Party Free NTFS Drivers for Mac

There are many 3rd-party NTFS drivers for Mac that allow you to read and write on NTFS hard drive on Mac. some of them are free. You can try them. Once installed on your Mac, you can launch them and open NTFS hard drive on Mac.

Way 5. Move NTFS Files to Cloud and Get Access on Mac

Though this article is for how to open NTFS drive on Mac, read and write NTFS hard drive on Mac, the real purpose for users is access to the data. If you are not ready to try the above-mentioned 4 ways to read and write NTFS on Mac, you can try to move NTFS files to cloud services on a Windows PC, then access them on Mac. Cloud services, most widely used are iCloud, Google Drive, DropBox, etc.

Sure, it’s troublesome to read and write Windows-based NTFS on Mac. However, once you get the right way for you, then you can solve the problem perfectly. It needs you some time and patience to figure it out.

Frequently Asked Questions for Open NTFS Hard Drive on Mac

  1. How do I open an NTFS file on a Mac?
  2. NTFS files can be opened on Mac, but can’t be changed, like edit, delete, update, etc.

  3. Can Mac copy files from NTFS?
  4. No, Mac can’t copy files from NTFS hard drive since NTFS hard drive is only read on Mac.

  5. Can Mac read NTFS external hard drive?
  6. Yes, you can see Mac detects and let you open NTFS external hard drive, but can’t write on NTFS.

  7. How do you copy data to the NTFS drive on Mac?
  8. You can’t copy data to the NTFS drive on Mac directly. To do it, you have to make NTFS writable on Mac. The ways available are using the NTFS driver for Mac, using Terminal, or Bootcamp, and even formatting NTFS to FAT forma

  9. Can you format NTFS on Mac?
  10. Yes, you can format NTFS on Mac. Just open Disk Utility and select the NTFS hard drive > click "Erase" > select new file system and finish the formatting process.

  11. Is Paragon NTFS for Mac free?
  12. No, Paragon NTFS for Mac is shareware. To use it, you need to pay for it. The trial version is free to download and use with feature limitations.

  13. How do I read a Windows hard drive on a Mac?
  14. Usually, Windows hard drive can be recognized and read on a Mac. however, besides that, you can do nothing to the Windows hard drive. And if there are some mount errors or formatting errors for the Windows hard drive, Mac might not recognize it as well.

  15. Can M1 Mac read NTFS?
  16. Yes, M1 Mac read NTFS, but can’t write NTFS. You can do nothing to the NTFS hard drive without writing on it.

  17. How do I convert NTFS to FAT32 without formatting Mac?
  18. Converting NTFS to FAT32 means formatting NTFS to FAT32. It doesn’t mean you need to format the Mac. You just format the hard drive.