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: Free download NTFS for Mac software
As writing to NTFS drive is so frequently needed, especially for those who have both Windows PC and Mac computers, a professional NTFS for Mac application that supports macOS Catalina would be of great help.
Fortunately, there's iBoysoft NTFS for Mac, one of the best NTFS for macOS Catalina software in the market which allows you to read write NTFS drives on Mac.
iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is the best NTFS for Mac application which can read/write to NTFS drive in macOS 11/10.15/10.14/10.13.
It is a comprehensive NTFS for Mac solution for Mac users. On one hand, it can mount NTFS volumes in read-write mode automatically. Also, you can open, unmount and eject the NTFS volumes with one click.
On the other hand, it allows users to erase data on NTFS volumes and repair NTFS file system errors. Additionally, it supports listing and opening all attached external drives and reformatting them into NTFS file system if needed.
Tutorial to write to the NTFS drive in macOS Catalina with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac
Step 1: Download, install iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on Mac.
Step 2: Restart your Mac, and then connect the NTFS drive to Mac.
Step 3: After the NTFS drive has been successfully mounted, you can open it and then write to the NTFS drive.
iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is very easy to use.
Solution 2: Write NTFS drive on macOS Catalina with command line
Using command line to mount NTFS drive on Mac is not officially supported and thoroughly tested by Apple, which might cause occasional instability to your Mac. Besides, it's easy to input wrong command which will result in unexpected damage to our Mac and data inside. So use it 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.
Solution 3: Reformat NTFS drive to exFAT/FAT32
As two universal file systems, exFAT and FAT32 are compatible with both Windows and Mac computer. But before reformating, you should be sure to back up all important files.
If you are not going to tranfer files between Windows and Mac a lot, converting NTFS to APFS in macOS Catalina is also a good option to solve the incompatibility problem.
If you are going to keep the drive formatted with Microsoft NTFS, you can easily read write NTFS in macOS Catalina through these solutions. Among them, installing an NTFS for macOS Catalina tool is the most convenient and reliable way which guarantees your Mac and data safety.