How to solve read-only external hard drive without formatting on Mac?

Posted by Katrina to NTFS for Mac on March 12th, 2018

External hard drives are important storage media which we can read and write files to. But there are chances when external hard drives are read-only on Mac computers, such as Seagate external hard drive read-only on Mac. Under this situation, formatting the external hard drive is a workable way to make it read-write enabled. However, it's destructive to the data on the drive. This article will analyze three external hard drive read-only cases and give you relevant solutions to each external hard drive read-only cases.

Case 1: The read-only external hard drive is NTFS formatted

By default, Windows uses NFTS, and Macs use HFS and APFS. Out of the box, Macs are unable to write to NTFS drives. You can go to Disk Utility to check whether the external hard drive is NTFS formatted. If yes, there're solutions to solve read-only external hard drive without formatting on Mac.

Solution 1: Download and install NTFS for Mac software

NTFS driver for Mac software, such as iBoysoft Drive Manager and NTFS Assistant, can help us write to NTFS formatted external hard drive on Mac.

iBoysoft Drive Manager - NTFS drive, external drive and network drive mounter

iBoysoft Drive Manager is a handy Mac tool that can help us mount NTFS external hard drive on macOS High Sierra 10.13/10.14 Mojave/10.12 Sierra/10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

iBoysoft Drive Manager

Aside from writing to read-only NTFS external hard drive on Mac, iBoysoft Drive Manager is also a wonderful tool to manage external drives and network drives. It offers a menu bar from which we can mount, unmount and remount network drives and external drives with a single click. It automatically records the information of network drive at the first time we connect it to Mac, so network drive only need to be set up once and later can be directly mounted without bothering to input information again and again.

Write to NTFS external hard drive on Mac

Tutorial to write to NTFS external hard drive on Mac with iBoysoft Drive Manager

Step 1: Free download and install iBoysoft Drive Manager on Mac.

Step 2: Launch iBoysoft Drive Manager and connect NTFS drive to Mac.

Step 3: Write to NTFS external hard drive after getting notified that the drive is mounted successfully.

NTFS Assistant - the cheapest NTFS for Mac in App Store

Besides iBoysoft Drive Manager, NTFS Assistant is another NTFS for Mac app in App Store.

NTFS Assistant has excellent quality and charges at low price, which is the best option for us to read and write to NTFS external hard drive on macOS Mojave 10.14, macOS High Sierra 10.13/10.12 Sierra/10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7. With it, we can easily copy files to read-only NTFS hard drive on Mac and save files from macOS to a NTFS drive, etc.

Guidance to download and use NTFS Assistant

Step 1: Download and install NTFS Assistant from App Store >>.

Step 2: Download and install NTFS Assistant Helper >> to enable NTFS read-write access.

After installing both NTFS Assistant and NTFS Assistant Helper, NTFS Assistant has the ability to write to NTFS external hard drive on Mac.

Both iBoysoft Drive Manager and NTFS Assistant can help you solve read-only external hard drive without formatting.

Solution 2: Mount NTFS external hard drive with command line

Notice: For command users, it's easy to input wrong command which will result in unexpected damage to our Mac and data inside. So use command line with caution.

Step 1: Go to the Applications > Utilities folder and launch the Terminal program.

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

Step 3: Type "LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse" in the editor window for the fstab file. (Be sure to change the word NAME to the name of your drive)

Step 4: Press "Control+O" to save the file, followed by "Control+X" to exit.

Step 5: Unmount our NTFS drive and attach it again.

Case 2: Access permissions on external hard drive are not ignored

An external hard drive on a Mac follows the access permissions set down by the OS X operating system, such as who can delete or modify a file or program copied to the drive. Since permissions are set up, macOS and Mac OS X will prevent access to files on the drive or to the drive itself.

Solution: Ignore permissions on external hard drive in Finder

To prevent such errors from happening, Mac operating system includes a setting to ignore permissions on external drives, so all files on the drive should be fully accessible regardless of their permissions settings. Here below are steps to ignore the permission on external hard drive:

Step 1: Select the external hard drive on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar, and then press Command-I to get information on the drive.

Step 2: Click on the arrow that is at the left side of the "Sharing & Permissions" tab near the bottom of the window.

Step 3: Check the box to "Ignore ownership on this volume", or toggle it off and then on if it's already enabled.

Case 3: Some errors on the external hard drive cause read-only issue

Some formatting errors will cause a drive to be read-only. When this happens, we may see a warning when attaching the drive that states it is only being mounted in read-only mode. If you have important files in the NTFS drive, you can download free data recovery software to recover data from unreadale drive.

Solution: Repair read-only external hard drive in Disk Utility

In this situation, we should use Disk Utility to check the drive for errors and attempt to fix them. The following is the guidance to fix read-only external hard drive in Disk Utility:

Step 1: Open Disk Utility.

Step 2: Select the read-only external hard drive on the left window.

Step 3: Click First Aid in the top center and choose Run.

If Disk Utility fails to repair the read-only external hard drive, we can try another repair tool like Diskwarrior.

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