When you plug your removable NTFS drives into a Mac, they look good until you need Mac to write to NTFS drives. You notice that you can read the files on the drive, but you can't edit them. Nothing happens when you want to save files onto it.
Before you convert NTFS to APFS to make the drive compatible with the Mac running macOS 10.15, read this post first. This post will tell you why your Mac cannot write to NTFS drives and teach you how to enable NTFS writing on macOS Catalina and earlier.
You must encounter one of the most common problems in file transfer between Windows and macOS using a removable drive: the Winodws NT File System is not fully compatible with macOS.
macOS 10.15 (Catalina) was released on October, 2019. You could encountered some problems after you updated to macOS Catalina. Except for losing files after macOS upgrade, allowing Mac write to NTFS drives is another problem you should consider in macOS Catalina.
Can I use Windows NTFS drives on macOS 10.15?
Yes. You can use NTFS drives on macOS Catalina but only with read permission. Mac can read NTFS-formatted drives but can't write to them.
To understand the cross-platform incompatibility issue between an NTFS drive and a Mac computer, you should know about file systems.
A file system is a way of organizing and storing files on drives including internal hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, and memory cards. It decides what information is attached to a specific file, like filename, file size, etc. There are a few file systems out there a drive can be formatted into, such as FAT, FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, APFS, etc.
Windows NTFS (New Technology File System) is the default file system used in Microsoft's Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP, Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems. USB flash drives, external hard drives, SD memory cards can be formatted into NTFS too. How to Read and write NTFS external hard drives on a Mac is the one of the most asked questions.
The Mac operating system recognizes the NTFS file system and files in it but doesn't have the ability to write to it.
Even equipped with many new features, the NTFS write support that Mac users have wanted for a couple of years still is not available in macOS 10.15. It is kind of disappointing that Apple still doesn't make NTFS compatible with macOS 10. 15 again.
Interestingly, Windows doesn't support APFS (the default file system after macOS High Sierra and later) either. You can't read and write to an APFS drive on Windows.
We don't know why Apple and Microsoft haven't held the hands yet to make NTFS drives or APFS drives compatible with both Windows and macOS. The priority for users in this post is to know how to use the NTFS drives on macOS 10.15 and earlier.
Is there a way that you can use NTFS drives on Apple computers?
How to make Mac write to NTFS drives in macOS 10.15?
The files in an NTFS drive will appear read-only or locked on a Mac. In order to bridge this gap, three solutions will be introduced below:
Solution 1: Use third-party NTFS for Mac software
Third-party NTFS for Mac software is a great option to enable NTFS write support on macOS. You don't have to mess up your NTFS drives in case you want to use an NTFS drive on Windows.
iBoysoft NTFS for Mac can mount NTFS drives in read-write mode automatically like NTFS write support exists natively in the Mac operating system. With this utility, users for Mac computers won't have any problems with transferring files between Macs and PCs using an NTFS drive. iBoysoft NTFS for Mac enables users to edit, delete, copy and move files on NTFS drives on a Mac easily without reformatting your NTFS drives into another file system. Making NTFS drive writable on a Mac mini/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air/iMac will be a piece of cake with it.
Best NTFS for Mac - iBoysoft NTFS for Mac
- Read and write NTFS volumes on Mac
- Mount and unmount NTFS volumes
- Repair NTFS file system errors
- Erase data on NTFS disks
- List and open all attached external drives
- Reformat disks to NTFS on Mac
- Support macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8
Here is how to write to an NTFS drive with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac:
Step 1: Download, install and launch iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.
Step 2: Connect an NTFS drive to Mac.
Step 3: After the NTFS drive has been successfully mounted, you can open it and write to the NTFS drive as you normally do on a Windows computer.
Solution 2: Reformat NTFS drive to exFAT/FAT32
In order to be allowed to have full read-write access to your NTFS drive on Mac, you have to reformat the NTFS drive into another file system that is compatible with macOS. APFS and exFAT are most recommended.
Warning: Before you reformat your NTFS drive, do remember to back up your files in the NTFS drive first to avoid data loss. If you forgot to back up but have formatted the drive already, you may want to recover your important files from this formatted drive with iBoysoft Mac data Recovery.
Follow the guide to reformat the NTFS drive on Mac:
- Step 1: Go to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
- Step 2: Select the NTFS drive from the sidebar.
- Step 3: Click Erase.
- Step 4: Type in Name and choose a format for your NTFS drive.
- Step 5: Click the Erase.
Tips: If you want your NTFS drive to be compatible with both macOS and Windows, you can format it into FAT/exFAT. If you use the NTFS drive only on Mac, you can choose to format it into APFS/ APFS (Encrypted)/APFS (Case-sensitive)/ APFS (Case-sensitive, Encrypted).
Solution 3: Enable Apple NTFS-Writing support using Terminal (not recommended)
Technically speaking, Apple actually can allow you to write to an NTFS drive, but it is just an experimental feature and is disabled by default. It probably will corrupt your disk and cause permanent data loss because this tool is very unstable.
You can enable Apple's Experimental NTFS-Writing Support by following these steps:
Step 1: Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
Step 2: Type "sudo nano /etc/fstab" into the Terminal to open the /etc/fstab file for editing nano text editor.
Step 3: Enter the following command line, which will enable the NTFS to write support.
LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse
Be sure to substitute NAME with your disk name without any space.
Step 4: Press Ctrl + O to save the file after you are done and then press Ctrl + X to close nano.
Tips: If you have multiple NTFS drives you want to write to, add a different line for each.
Step 5: Connect the NTFS drives into a Mac. If they are connected, re-plug them into the Mac.
Step 6: The NTFS drives won't pop up automatically like drives normally do. You have to find the NTFS drives in Finder.
Note: If you want to undo the change, follow step 1 and step 2. Then delete the line "LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse" and save your change.
Once again, Apple NTFS write support is least tested and full of risks. Don't do it unless you have to.
It is really a pain on the neck if you want to transfer files between an NTFS drive and a Mac often but you can't. It is also frustrating that you can't write to your newly-bought drives because you were not aware that they were formatted into NTFS.
This post pulls you out of the frustration about how to write to an NTFS drive with or without a third-party utility on a Mac. Most importantly, users can expect Mac to write to NTFS drives with the assistance of iBoysoft NTFS for Mac even in macOS 10.15 (Catalina).