Free NTFS driver for Mac: read-write NTFS drives on Mac

This post compares the pros and cons of four free NTFS drivers for macOS. Besides, you can also free download the full version of iBoysoft Drive Manager, the best alternative to free NTFS drivers for Mac.

By Juno | Posted to NTFS for Mac, updated on July 26, 2019

Before you are led to the introduction of free NTFS drivers for Mac, here is some background information that might interest you.

Did you know why you can read files stored on Windows NTFS drives but can't create, edit, copy, paste, delete, or transfer files on NTFS drive on Mac desktops and laptops? NTFS is a file system developed by Microsoft, the competitor of Apple, and is used by default on Windows platform, especially for system drive. Up till now, Mac operating system such as macOS Mojave/High Sierra/Sierra or Mac OS X El Capitan and earlier only provides NTFS read support but denies NTFS write support.

Any way to solve this incompatibility problem? Can you make the NTFS drive fully compatible with macOS or Mac OS X? Sure. The easiest method is to use NTFS driver for macOS software.

If you are looking for a totally free NTFS driver for macOS, there are four options: Mounty for NTFS, NTFS-3G, FUSE for macOS and SL-NTFS.

Four free NTFS drivers for macOS

Some Mac users may have upgraded to macOS Catalina beta and are digging around for an NTFS driver for macOS 10.15, I have to say that all NTFS drivers for Mac, either free or commercial, don't support macOS 10.15 yet. Users need to wait patiently until the macOS 10.15 is officially released. Then developers will upgrade their software to be compatible with macOS Catalina.

If you are using a Mac running macOS 10.14 and earlier, a free NTFS driver for Mac would probably help you share NTFS drives between Windows and Mac.

1. Mounty for NTFS

Mounty for NTFS is completely free software to enable write ability to NTFS drives on Mac. It has simple design to help users mount NTFS drives with write support on Mac.

As a free utility, Mounty for NTFS does have some highlights:

  1. Totally free.
  2. Fast download and installation because it is less than 1MB.
  3. One-time installation and no additional driver needed.

But Mounty for NTFS dose get complaints because:

  1. The write speed to NTFS drive is rather slow.
  2. It can't mount the NTFS formatted drives in read-write mode automatically.
  3. It can be unstable and fails to mount NTFS drives.
  4. It can cause data loss problems.
  5. It doesn't provide tech support.
  6. The software is not compatible with the latest macOS Mojave.

2. NTFS-3G

NTFS-3G is an open-source project from Tuxera, so the public can free down this NTFS driver to write to Windows NTFS drives on Mac computers.

Set aside its advantage for being free, NTFS-3G is complained a lot because of its poor performance. Some main drawbacks of this free NTFS driver for Mac are listed below:

  1. Complicated installation. You have to know how to use Terminal or have already downloaded FUSE for macOS, Homebrew or Xcode.
  2. Poor usability. Users have to use the software by command lines in Terminal instead of an interface.
  3. Poor compatibility. NTFS-3G only supports macOS 10.12 or earlier. It doesn't support the latest macOS 10.14 and macOS 10.13.
  4. Slow write speed. The file transferring is noticeably slow.
  5. Tuxera stops maintaining this utility.
  6. No technical support. As freeware, no technical support is available when issues occur.

3. FUSE for macOS

FUSE for macOS (was OSXFUSE) is another open source project from Tuxera that can enable write support to NTFS drives on Mac. In fact, FUSE is a file system extension that allows user to read and write disks with the formats that are not fully supported by Apple.

FUSE for macOS is worth trying because:

  1. It is free of charge.
  2. It is compatible with Mac operating system from Mac OS X 10.6 to macOS 10.14.
  3. Multiple languages are available.

As a free NTFS driver for Mac, FUSE for macOS has some obvious limitations:

  1. It can be unreliable sometimes such as file size being reported as 0 bytes.
  2. It has no technical support when issues occur.

4. SL-NTFS

SL-NTFS means Snow Leopard NTFS. As a matter of fact, writing to NTFS on Apple is possible since Mac OS 10.6 without any third-party NTFS driver, but the NTFS writing support is disabled by default. Therefore, SL-NTFS is used as an interface on the Apple NTFS driver to enable writing to NTFS drives on Mac.

As a free utility for Mac, SL-NTFS has some pros as followings:

  1. It is free.
  2. It is simple to install.

However, SL-NTFS has some cons to prevent people from using it.

  1. It has limited access to a large number of files and a large volume of data.
  2. It can't enable writing on some NTFS external hard drives.
  3. It can cause conflicts if you have another NTFS enabler installed.
  4. It has no technical support.

Generally speaking, despite of being free, those free NTFS for Mac software have various flaws, making them very risky to use.

If you are afraid of using a risky free NTFS utility for Mac, there are two cost-effective alternatives for you. Even though they are not completely free, they can provide a lot of merits that free NTFS drivers don't have.

Cheap NTFS drivers for Mac

Free NTFS drivers for Mac can be troublemakers because of their low write speed, poor compatibility, no technical support, etc. Nevertheless, you don't have to pay a fortune to get enough reliability, stability and simplicity from a cost-effective NTFS for Mac - NTFS Assistant or iBoysoft Drive Manager.

NTFS Assistant

NTFS Assistant is a professional NTFS driver for macOS and Mac OS X that can easily help you mount NTFS drives on Mac desktops and laptops as regular drives in read-write mode.

NTFS Assistant has quite a few advantages you can take into account:

  1. It is the cheapest NTFS driver for Mac in App Store.
  2. It is fully compatible with macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.
  3. It is easy to install and use.
  4. Free technical support is provided.

Note: After you have downloaded and installed APFS Assistant, you need to free download NTFS Assistant Helper on our official page to enable NTFS write support.

iBoysoft Drive Manager

Another great alternative to free NTFS driver for Mac is iBoysoft Drive Manager. It is a handy Mac tool that can enable full read-write access to NTFS drives on Mac and help manage multiple external drivers/network drives with one click.

iBoysoft Drive Manager is a great replacement of a free NTFS driver for Mac because:

  1. It is extremely affordable and offers 7-day free trial.
  2. It is fully compatible with macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.
  3. It is fast to write to NTFS drives and transfer files between NTFS drives and Mac.
  4. It is easy to install and use.
  5. It provides lifetime free upgrades.
  6. Free technical support is provided.
  7. Besides powerful NTFS writing support, it can manage external drives and map network drives as local drives in the Finder.

If you want to know any disadvantages that iBoysoft Drive Manager might have, I would say the only one should be - it is not free. But it is really cheap compared with other commercial NTFS for Mac programs, such as Paragon and Tuxera.

We also provide a table to help you find the most preferable NTFS driver:

NTFS driver for macOS iBoysoft Drive Manager NTFS Assistant Mounty for Mac NTFS-3G FUSE for macOS SL-NTFS
NTFS writing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auto-mount NTFS in read-write mode Yes Yes No No Yes Yes
Speed Fast Regular Slow Slow Slow Slow
Supported Mac OS macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.7. macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.7. macOS 10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.6. macOS 10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.6. macOS 10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.6. macOS 10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11 to 10.6.
Supported devices USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. (not all) USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. USB drives, SD cards, HDDs, etc. (not all)
Supported file system NTFS, APFS, FAT32, exFAT, etc. NTFS NTFS NTFS NTFS, APFS, FAT32, exFAT, etc. NTFS
Tech support Yes Yes No No No No
Simple installation Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Ease of use Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Other 1.Manage external storage media with one click.
2.Map network drive as local drives.
N/A N/A N/A Multiple languages are available. N/A
Price $29.95 $5.99 Free Free Free Free
Free download Download Download Download Download Download Download

Now, you have a few options in your hands. If you don't care the risks and want to try out the free NTFS for Mac programs, generally speaking, Mounty for NTFS and FUSE for macOS are better ones. However, if you care about the reliability, technical support and NTFS write speed a lot, or you are specifically looking for an NTFS driver for macOS Mojave or macOS High Sierra, iBoysoft Drive Manager is your best choice.

Juno

Juno is a technical expert @iBoysoft. She has over 5-year experience in data recovery/repair technology. She loves to write data recovery tips and tutorials.

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