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How to Fix USB Drive is Read Only Mac Error [Updated in 2022]

Updated on Friday, September 9, 2022

iBoysoft author Rivers Wong

Written by

Rivers Wong
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

Best 4 Solutions to Fix USB Drive is Read Only Mac Error

Summary: This article covers 4 solutions to help you fix the USB drive is read only Mac issue. If your read-only USB drive is formatted with the Microsoft NTFS file system, free download iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to get the full read-write permission of the drive.

How to fix USB drive is read only Mac

Most of the time, when you use a USB flash drive with your Mac computer, there's no problem. But from time to time, you may encounter errors, and one of the most common errors is the USB drive is read only Mac issue. Besides, despite USB drives, Mac external hard drive read only problem happens frequently as well.

When a USB drive is read-only, it means that you're not allowed to write to the drive, for example, you would not be able to edit or rename the files on the USB drive or copy files from your Mac to the NTFS drive. Meantime, you can only read or view the data stored on it. Fortunately, it's quite easy to fix this problem. Read this article and you'll know how.

Table of Contents:

Why is my USB drive read only on Mac?

Before we get straight to fixing the USB drive is read only on Mac issue, it is necessary to know why your USB drive becomes read-only in the first place. Generally speaking, this problem can be caused by the following reasons:

  • Wrong device connection.
  • The USB flash drive is corrupted, or it contains unknown errors.
  • USB drive permission is changed to read-only.
  • The USB flash drive is formatted as an NTFS file system.
  • Viruses or malware.

Do note that the reason behind the Mac USB drive is read-only issue varies in different situations, we've just listed some of them. Now, since you already know what may cause the said problem, it's high time for us to fix it together!

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How do I fix a read only USB flash drive?

To fix the USB flash drive is read only Mac issue, and be able to write to it, different situations call for different solutions. Here, we list the 3 most common cases that Mac users may encounter, along with their solutions. If you don't know what happens to your USB drive, that's fine. You can follow this guide, and try the solutions below one by one.

Case 1: USB drive contains unknown errors

When a USB drive contains some unknown internal errors, it may display as read-only on Mac, and prevent you from editing, transferring, deleting, or modifying files stored on it. In this case, to get rid of the USB read-only issue caused by internal errors, you can run Disk Utility First Aid, and see if the problem still exists.

First Aid will help you repair some minor existing errors on the read-only drive. Here's how to fix USB drive is read only Mac using Disk Utility:

  1. Make sure the read-only USB drive is connected to your Mac.
  2. Navigate to Mac Launchpad > Others, and double-click on Disk Utility to open it.open Disk Utility on Mac
  3. In the Disk Utility window, select your malfunctioning USB drive in the left column.
  4. Click on the First Aid tab at the top pane, a dialogue box appears, then click Run.fix USB drive is read only on Mac using First Aid
  5. Until the First Aid process is completed, then safely eject and reconnect the drive to Mac.
  6. Check if you can write to your USB drive now.

If fortunately, you can write to your read-only drive after First Aid, congratulations. But if not, don't worry, just move on to the next part.

Case 2: USB drive permission is changed to read-only.

If you locked or set permission limits to your USB drive before, and for whatever reason, you forgot about it, the drive will show as read-only. In this case, all you should do is change the permission settings, and make your USB flash drive writable again.

Follow these steps to fix USB flash drive is read only Mac by resetting permission limits:

  1. Connect the read-only USB drive to your Mac.
  2. Find the USB drive icon on your Mac desktop, right-click on it, then select Get info. Or, you can simply select the drive icon, then press Command + I, it works the same.get the information of the read only USB drive
  3. In the Get info window, click the arrow next to Sharing & Permissions.Sharing and Permissions of the read only USB drive
  4. Click the Lock icon, and enter your admin password to unlock.
  5. Tick the checkbox next to "Ignore ownership on this volume".fix USB drive is read only Mac by changing permission limits

After doing the above steps, you can see if you can access and edit files on your USB flash drive. If not, safely eject the drive, restart Mac, connect the USB drive to your Mac, and check again.

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Case 3: USB drive is NTFS file system formatted

Some USB drives are formatted as Microsoft NTFS file systems by default for windows using, and the NTFS format is not a Mac-compatible file system. So, if your USB drive is formatted with an NTFS format, then you would encounter the USB drive is read only on Mac issue.

How do I know if my USB drive is formatted with an NTFS format?

To determine if your read-only USB drive is an NTFS file system, you can check its file system information in Disk Utility. Here's how to do it:

  1. Navigate to Launchpad > Others, then click on Disk Utility.
  2. Select the USB drive you have a read-only error in the left sidebar.
  3. If your drive is formatted as an NTFS file system, you will see "Windows NT File System" in the right column.
    the read only USB drive is formatted with an NTFS file system

How to write to an NTFS USB drive on Mac?

After confirming that it is the NTFS file system that causes you the USB drive is read only Mac problem, and prevents you from writing to the drive, to solve this issue, the most effective way is to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac software.

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is the best NTFS drive manager for Mac in the market. It works as a Mac NTFS mounter to mount your Windows NTFS USB drive on your device. With it, you will have full read and write control over your NTFS-formatted drive in macOS environment without formatting it with a Mac-compatible file system.

You can check this video guide to learn how to read and write NTFS drive on Mac using iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.

 How to read/write NTFS drive on macOS Monterey/Big Sur and M1 Mac (Easy &100% Working) 

If you are not a video type, check the text version below:

  1. Free download and install iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on your computer.iBoysoft NTFS for Mac
  2. Connect the read-only USB drive to your Mac, then launch iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.
  3. Your USB drive will be mounted in read-write mode automatically, and you can write, modify, transfer, and delete files on that drive now. If necessary, you'll be asked to install an NTFS driver by iBoysoft and enable System Extensions to gain full disk access, just follow the onscreen instruction and finish the installation.

What if my read-only USB drive is blank and there are no files on it?

If your NTFS formatted USB drive is totally blank, then you can directly format it with a Mac-compatible file system to fix the USB drive is read only on Mac issue, thus gaining full read and write permission to that drive. Do note that formatting a drive will erase all data stored on it, so be careful! Here's how:

  1. Connect the read-only drive to your Mac computer.
  2. Open Disk Utility, then select the malfunctioning drive in the left sidebar.
  3. Click the Erase button at the top, set the format of the USB drive as APFS, MS-DOS (FAT), Mac OS Extended (Journaled), or ExFAT, and click Erase.format the read only USB drive with a Mac compatible file system
  4. When the formatting process is completed, disconnect the drive and restart your Mac, then reconnect your USB drive. The drive is writable on Mac now.

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Conclusion

In this article, we help you fix the USB drive is read only on Mac issue with 4 methods. By following the methods above one by one, you can get rid of the said issue, and write to your read-only USB flash drive successfully. Again, if your USB drive is NTFS-formatted, don't hesitate to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to easily gain full read-write control over it!

FAQ about USB drive is read only Mac

A

If your USB drive is set as read-only, and you want to write to that drive, you can change the permission settings of that drive manually. If your read-only USB drive is formatted with an NTFS file system, then the easiest way to gain full read-write control over it is to use iBoysoft NTFS for Mac software.

A

To avoid the USB drive is read only on Mac problem, there are a few things you can do. First of all, do not set any permission limits on the USB drive. Then, make sure the file system of your drive is Mac-compatible.