How to Fix Seagate External Hard Drive Read-only on Mac?

By Katrina | Posted to NTFS for Mac Tips, updated on November 19th, 2020 |

Summary: Two methods to change Seagate external hard drives from read-only back to read-write, so that you can edit, delete, and rename files on this Seagate external hard drive. Also, if a Seagate external hard drive is read-only or files are locked on Mac due to NTFS format, you can use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to mount it in read-write mode on Mac.

When you plug a Seagate external hard drive into your Mac, one of the worst things would be that you find your Seagate hard drive is read-only. Your photos, videos, and other files you saved from a Windows PC could be locked. Or your Seagate external drive could be write-protected.

Generally, there are three reasons for Seagate external HDD being read-ony on Mac:

  • 1. Use NTFS driver for Mac to write to NTFS Seagate external hard drives
  • 2. Change the permissions from read-only to read-write Seagate external hard drive
  • 3. Repair disk corruption that makes Seagate external hard drive read-only

Are you facing such disk problem right now? Well, you are not the only one.

"I'm having a problem using my Seagate external hard drive. I only have permission to read files on my external hard drive, but I am not allowed to write or edit files on the drive when using Mac OS. Why this happened and how to fix Seagate external hard drive read-only on Mac?"

You might have trouble backing up or adding files to Seagate external hard drives on Mac. But it's not necessarily because the disk is locked but some other reasons. For example, the Seagate external hard drive becomes read-only on Mac.

In this article, we introduced three possible reasons for disk being read-only on Mac, and you can find solutions to change the external drives from read-only accordingly.

Why is your Seagate external hard drive read only on Mac?

You may be wondering why my Seagate external hard drive is read-only. In fact, read-only Seagate external hard drive results from various reasons. It could be the NTFS format that makes this trouble since NTFS is not writable on Mac. Generally, there are three possible reasons:

  • 1. The Seagate external hard drive is NTFS formatted.
  • 2. You don't have permissions to access the Seagate external hard drive
  • 3. The Seagate external hard drive has some disk errors

In the following part, we'll go into details about how to fix the Seagate external hard drive read-onli issue in different situations.

Case 1: The Seagate external hard drive is NTFS formatted

Most Seagate external drives are read-only on Mac because they are pre-fomatted with Windows NT file system (NTFS) by the manufacturer. So your Seagate HDD is read only on Mac, which affects Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch, Portable drive, and Slim.

However, macOS disabled the NTFS write support by default. If you connect an NTFS formatted external hard drive to your Mac, you will find that files on this disk will be locked or show as read-only. You can only read but can't add files to this Seagate external hard drive on Mac.

The read-only Seagate external hard drive is NTFS formatted

How to check if your Seagate hard drive is NTFS formatted on Mac?

  • 1. Open the Finder and click Go at the upper right of your desktop, then choose Utilities.
  • 2. Find Disk Utility and open it.
  • 3. Select your Seagate external hard drive in the left sidebar of Disk Utility.
  • 4. Then you can see Windows NT File System on the right.
  • 5. You can click the Info icon at the upper right to check if this disk is writable.
  • The read-only Seagate external hard drive is not writable

Solution: Use NTFS for Mac to write to Seagate external hard drives on Mac

In this situation, what you need is not to unlock the Seagate external hard drive but a NTFS for Mac driver. Many people would think about converting NTFS to APFS or formatting the Seagate drive for Mac to make it compatible with macOS. However, the truth is that you can fix the Seagate external hard drive read-only issue without formatting, i.e. you don't have to lose your files on this drive.

Alternatively, you can download NTFS for Mac software to enable NTFS drive write support on Mac with no fuss. There are a great number of NTFS for Mac in the market, and iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is used here as an example.

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac: NTFS for Mac driver and more

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is a handy disk management tool, which can help you mount NTFS formatted external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, etc. on Mac with write support. This NTFS drive mounter is also compatible with macOS 11 (Big Sur), 10.15 (Catalina), macOS 10.14 (Mojave), macOS 10.13 (High Sierra).

How to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to write to NTFS Seagate external hard drive on Mac?

  • 1. Download and install iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on your Mac, then restart the computer.
  • 2. Launch this NTFS driver for Mac and connect the read-only Seagate external hard drive to Mac.
  • 3. Then, you can fully write and copy data to the Seagate external hard drive on Mac after the drive is mounted successfully.
  • Write to NTFS external hard drive on Mac with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac

Aside from being an NTFS for Mac driver, iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is also a wonderful tool to manage files on NTFS external drives. It lets users open, monut, repair, and erase NTFS drives on Mac natively and seamlessly.

Case 2: You don't have permissions to access the Seagate external hard drive

If your Seagate hard drive denies your access or restricts you to read-only activities, there is likely an permission issue. Being a multiuser operating system, macOS sets up access permissions for all files and folders on the system, including external drives.

Solution: Change permissions on Seagate external hard drive

To fix the read-only Seagate external hard drive issue, you need to regain full access. You can ignore the ownership or change the sharing and permissions of this disk in the Finder by following the below steps.

  • 1. Select Seagate external hard drive on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar, and then press Command + I to get information of the drive.
  • 2. Scroll to the bottom of this list and click on the triangle that is at the left side of the Sharing & Permissions tab.
  • Change permissions on Seagate external hard drive
  • 3. Click on the lock icon at the right bottom and type in the password to unlock this tab.
  • 4. Check the box to Ignore ownership on this volume, or you can toggle it off and then on if it's already enabled.
  • 5. Click on the gear button and choose Apply to enclosed items… to save your changes.

Then you can go to check if your Seagate external hard drive is read-only still. If not, you will be able to write to this disk.

But if you can't access the Seagate external hard drive as it's locked still. Well, the disk may be really locked by certain programs, especially for Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch. Then you need to unlock the password protection or hardware encryption with Seagate Secure software.

Case 3: The Seagate external hard drive has some disk errors

If your Seagate external hard drive becomes read-only not for the reasons above, you may need to have a check if there is any inner disk error. Some formatting errors will make an external hard drive read-only on Mac. If this is the cause, usually you will see a warning in Disk Utility that states it is only being mounted in read-only mode.

Click to see more errors of the Seagate external hard drive not showing up on Windows.

Solution 1: Fix read-only Seagate external hard drive in Disk Utility

Fortunately, there is a built-in tool called First Aid that can check and repair some minor disk errors. When your Seagate external hard drive becomes read-only due to logical disk problems, you can use First Aid to repair it then.

Here is the guidance to fix read-only Seagate external hard drive with Disk Utility:

  • 1. Open Disk Utility.
  • 2. Select the read-only Seagate external hard drive on the left window.
  • 3. Click First Aid in the top center and choose Run to repair this disk.
  • Fix read-only Seagate external hard drive in Disk Utility

Solution 2: Reformat Seagate external hard drive

However, if Disk Utility fails to fix read-only Seagate external hard drive, the last thing you can try to remove write protection from Seagate external hard drives would be reformatting. Reformatting will assign a new file system to this disk, consequently, the Seagate external hard drive issue could be fixed.

But before you go ahead to erase this disk, you should know that reformatting will wipe the files on this hard drive. Thus, you are advised to check if you have a copy of data back in the first place , or you can recover lost data from this external hard drive with iBoysoft Mac data recovery to avoid data loss.

If you're sure that you have data backup in hand, you can proceed to reformat this read-only external hard drive with the following tutorial.

  • 1. Open Disk Utility as you did before.
  • 2. Select the read-only Seagate external hard drive in the left sidebar.
  • 3. Click the Erase button in the top center of Disk Utility.
  • Fix read-only Seagate external hard drive by reformatting
  • 4. Fill in name, format, and scheme when the pop-up asks.
  • 5. Click Erase to confirm this operation.

A final note

Besides Seagate external hard drives, Toshiba, WD, Samsung, or other brands' external hard drives will come across the read-only problem. It is common to see people complaining WD My Passport external hard drives suddenly became read-only on Mac. You can also use these solutions to fix this problem. What's more, an NTFS formatted WD external hard drive won't work on your PS4 console for gaming as well. But if you are unable to fix it with the solutions suggested above, you can only send it to local disk repair store for help, but that will cost a lot usually.