How to mount Windows NTFS-formatted external hard drives on mac?

This guide will show you how to mount Windows NTFS volumes or external drives in read-write mode on Mac. The most effective method is to use a professional NTFS for Mac mounter like iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.

By Katrina | Posted to NTFS for Mac, updated on August 8th, 2019

macOS and Windows OS are two separate operating systems, and both have their own proprietary file systems. It's well-known that Windows OS relies on NTFS, while macOS uses HFS Plus or APFS. By default, macOS can only mount Windows NTFS volumes in read-only mode, and users can't write to NTFS volumes or drives in macOS. Thus, it is a hassle when you try to move a file from Mac to Windows NTFS drives.

Some prescient users could have formatted their external hard drives for both Mac and PC before they put files on this disk. But for people who have saved many important files on the NTFS drive, formatting will cause data loss possibly. And it is rather difficult to recover data from formatted hard drives. Thus, formatting is not a good suggestion to make NTFS drive writable on Mac in this case.

Then, is there a way to mount NTFS external drives on Mac so that you can write to this drive?

Table of contents
1. Can you mount Windows NTFS drives on Mac?
2. How to mount NTFS external hard drives on Mac in read-write mode?
3. Wrap-up

Can you mount Windows NTFS drives on Mac?

Mounting is a process by which the operating system makes files and directories on a storage device (such as an external hard drive, an SD card or a USB flash drive) available for users. Usually, when you plug an external drive in to your Mac, the macOS will automatically mount it so that you can view and write to files on this drive.

However, if you connect an NTFS-formatted external hard drive to your Mac, you will find this disk mounted but with read-only mode. That's to say, you are unable to edit, delete, copy, remove, or do any other operations except for viewing, just like the users from Stack Overflow.

My Seagate USB drive (NTFS format) is shown in the Finder (under Mac OS X El Capitan 10.11.5) with info that I have read-only access. I googled for solutions to write access to this NTFS drive. Unfortunately, as a real Mac noob, none of my attempts to fix the read-only drive worked. Also, I don't want to format this disk. What can I do to write to my NTFS formatted drive on Mac?

Then, can you mount Windows NTFS-formatted external hard drives on Mac in read-write mode? Yes, and there are three ways you can have a bash.

mount Windows NTFS drives on Mac

How to mount NTFS external hard drives on Mac in read-write mode?

Solution 1: Install efficient NTFS for Mac driver [Best]

A professional and efficient NTFS for Mac driver like iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is the best solution to mount NTFS formatted drives on Mac computers.

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac - the easiest way to mount NTFS external hard drive on Mac

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is a professional NTFS driver for Mac that enables NTFS write support on Mac effectively and natively. It can mount NTFS formatted external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, etc. with full access, letting users edit pictures, audio files, word files, and other files on NTFS drives on Mac. It supports macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8.

In addition to being an NTFS for Mac mounter, iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is a great disk management tool for NTFS drives as well. It can mount and unmount serval external drives in one click, as well as repair and erase NTFS drives on Mac natively and easily.

How to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to mount NTFS drives on Mac?

Step 1: Download, install, and launch iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on your computer.

Step 2: Connect your Windows NTFS external hard drive to your Mac. Then, you'll be able to write to your NTFS drive after the drive has been mounted successfully.

Write to NTFS external hard drive on Mac with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac

Solution 2: Try open-source program to mount NTFS drives on Mac [Free]

If you are looking for free NTFS drivers for macOS, we can provide some suggestions as well. However, the free option, FUSE for macOS, is less reliable than paid NTFS for Mac drivers, in that it involves complicated command lines and installation process.

Here are the details about how to mount NTFS drives on Mac with FUSE for macOS.

Warning: The following instructions assume that you know how to use the Terminal. Doing this the wrong command line could damage your Mac operating system.

Step 1: Disable the System Integrity Protection of your Mac if you are running macOS 10.13 and newer, which will put your Mac at a vulnerable place.

Step 2: Download FUSE for macOS at GitHub.com and install it.

Mount external Windows NTFS volume on Mac with FUSE for macOS

Step 3: Download and install Homebrew on your Mac.

Step 4: Simply click Go at the upper right of your desktop, choose Utilities, then find Terminal and open it.

Step 5: Type in brew install ntfs-3g in the command prompt and hit Enter to install NTFS-3G from Homebrew. You need to provide the password when it is asked.

Step 6: Type in sudo mkdir /Volumes/NTFS in the Terminal and hit Enter to create an NTFS mount point.

Step 7: Type in diskutil list and hit Enter to list the volumes connected to this Mac, then you'll find the name of your NTFS volume. (For example, the identifier is disk3s1.)

Step 8: Type in sudo /usr/local/bin/ntfs-3g /dev/disk3s1 /Volumes/NTFS -olocal -oallow_other and hit Enter in the command prompt. (Remember to replace disk3s1 with the name of your NTFS volume.)

After these operations, you'll find your NTFS volume of the external hard drive is mounted on your desktop with read-write access. However, as you can see, it is complicated because you can only mount one NTFS volume each time, and it is risky if you are a Mac-noob who knows little about the command line. Moreover, you need to disable SIP and unlock the encrypted APFS volume if your Mac are running macOS 10.13 High Sierra, 10.14 Mojave 10.15 Catalina.

To sum up, even though it's a free program to mount NTFS formatted external hard drives on Mac, it is not the best solution due to the complication and potential risk.

Solution 3: Enable the experimental NTFS support in macOS [Not recommended]

Actually, Mac does come with NTFS read-write support but it is disabled by default. It is least tested and had an unstable performance. Therefore, you are not advised to conduct this solution if you have important files saved on this NTFS drive, in case you lose data during this process.

Well, if you want to know the exact details out of curiosity, back up your files first and do the following steps.

Warning: It will involve the command line to enable NTFS write support in macOS. So, if you are not good at the Terminal, you'd better not try this out. It's very easy to input a wrong command and result in unexpected damage to your Mac and data inside.

Step 1: Click Go on the upper right of your desktop and go to Utilities folder, then launch the Terminal program.

Step 2: Input sudo nano /etc/fstab to edit the fstab file and hit Enter (Please supply your password when prompted).

Step 3: Type in LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse and hit Enter in the editor window for the fstab file. (You need to change the word NAME to the name of your NTFS external drive.)

Step 4: Press Control+O to save what you have done, and then press Control+X to quit the nano text editor.

Step 5: Unmount this NTFS external hard drive and reconnect it to your Mac again.

After this, this NTFS drive is mounted successfully on your Mac, but it won't pop up automatically and shows up on your desktop like other drives normally do. Instead, you need to access it in the Finder window.

Step 1: Click Go and choose Go to Folder.

Step 2: Type /Volumes in the box and hit Enter.

Your NTFS drive will be showing up under the "/Volumes" directory, and you can read and write to files on this drive. But still, you can only mount one NTFS drive each time with so many steps.

Wrap-up

In conclusion, a paid NTFS for Mac driver is the best solution to mount Windows NTFS formatted external hard drives or mount BOOTCAMP NTFS partition on Mac in read and write mode. Software like iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is simple and efficient for inexperienced users. Nevertheless, the freeware to mount Windows NTFS drives on Mac is not well-performed, and users could lose data when disk is corrupted due to instability and complicated operations.

Katrina

Katrina is a data recovery expert @iBoysoft who loves to help readers solve various data recovery problems.

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