Complete Guide: Fix WD My Passport Read-only on Mac

By Juno | Posted to NTFS for Mac Tips, updated on November 23rd, 2020 |

Summary: This guide introduces three common scenarios in which you might find your WD My Passport external hard drive read-only on Mac. If the WD My Passport read-only on Mac problem is caused by the NTFS file system, installing iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to edit, rename, delete the saved files and transfer files to the read-only WD My passport hard drive.

Western Digital is one of the most popular hard drive manufacturers. Its product line covers WD My Passport, WD My Passport Ultra, WD My Book, WD Elements, WD My Passport for Mac and more. Among those external hard drive categories, WD My Passport external hard drives are the most widely used ones. However, many users complain their WD My Passport is read-only on Mac like the user below in WD community.

"I have a WD My Passport 320GB external hard drive that I am trying to hook up to my iMac for the first time. I'm running macOS 10.13. I'm extremely frustrated because this drive is in a read-only mode, and I can't figure out how to change it! Any suggestion to fix this?"

Please continue reading and look for solutions for solving read-only WD My Passport on Mac problem.

Why is the WD My Passport read-only?

Sometimes, the WD external hard drive is read-only on Mac when you just got a brand new WD external hard drive. In other times, it suddenly became read-only after you have been using it for a while. The most common reasons for a read-only WD external hard drive, like WD My Passport, are listed below:

  • 1. Your WD My Passport hard drive is NTFS-formatted
  • 2. You have read-only permission to access WD My Passport hard drive
  • 3. Your WD My Passport hard drive is corrupted

If you are not sure which reason has caused your WD My Passport external hard drive read-only on Mac, check the scenarios one by one. If you know the reason already, you can jump to the scenario that best describes your situation.

Scenario 1: Your WD My Passport hard drive is NTFS-formatted

For WD My Passport Ultra and WD Elements, check if the hard drive is formatted with NTFS file system. By default, macOS can mount a Windows NTFS volume or drive in read-only mode. You can view the files saved on the NTFS-formatted partition or drive but can't make any changes to them. In addition, the WD My Passport hard drive won't let you add any files to it. To check if your WD My Passport is NTFS formatted, follow the steps:

  • 1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utilities.
  • 2. Click the WD My Passport (you may have changed its name) at the left sidebar. The file system information will be displayed on the right.
  • The read-only WD My Passport external hard drive is NTFS formatted

Note: You can also right-click the disk icon at the desktop and choose "Get Info" to check the file system information.

After having confirmed that the WD My Passport is formatted with NTFS, many people will choose to convert NTFS to APFS (for macOS Catalina, Mojave and High Sierra) or reformat the WD My Passport hard drive to make the WD external hard drive compatible with Mac. But as you know, directly formatting WD Elements or My Passport on Mac causes data loss.

In fact, installing an NTFS for Mac driver is a much easier way.

Solution: Install an NTFS for Mac driver to make WD My Passport writable

The NTFS drivers for macOS - iBoysoft NTFS for Mac can help you read and write to NTFS-formatted WD My Passport drives on Mac.

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac: NTFS for Mac driver and more

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is an NTFS disk management tool. It can manage NTFS drives with NTFS write support. It can easily and effectively mount NTFS drive on Mac automatically in read-write mode. It works with macOS 11/10.15/10.14/10.13.

Three simple steps to read and write to NTFS-formatted WD My Passport drive easily.

  • 1. Download, install, and launch iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on your Mac. Then, restart your Mac.
  • iBoysoft NTFS for Mac
  • 2. Connect the NTFS-formatted WD My Passport drive to Mac.
  • 3. Write to NTFS-formatted WD My Passport drive after the drive has been mounted successfully.
  • Write to NTFS-formatted WD My Passport with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac

Besides an NTFS mounter, iBoysoft NTFS for Mac can also open, unmount, eject, erase and repair NTFS volumes. It can list all attached external disks including USB flash drives, SD cards, memory sticks, external hard drives and so on. You can open them with one click. Moreover, you can reformat them to NTFS with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac if you need.

Scenario 2: You have read-only permission to access the WD My Passport hard drive

If your WD My Passport external hard drive is not formatted with NTFS but you have no write permission to it, it is probably because you have read-only permission to access the WD My Passport. Since your WD external hard drive is write-protected, all your write access is denied.

To know your permission to the WD My Passport, follow the steps below:

  • 1. Right-click the WD My Passport disk icon at the desktop and choose "Get Info".
  • 2. Check the information at the bottom under the Sharing & Permissions tab.
  • Change permissions on WD My Passport external hard drive

If you can see the message "You can only read", then you will understand why you can't write to your WD My Passport drive.

Solution: Change read-only permission on the WD My Passport drive

Follow the instruction below to change permission on Mac so that you can access the WD My Passport again:

  • 1. Click on the lock icon at the right corner in the Get Info window.
  • 2. Enter password if asked.
  • 3. Check the "Ignore ownership on this volume".
  • 4. Click on the gear button and choose "Apply to enclosed items…".
  • Change permissions on WD My Passport external hard drive
  • 5. Click "OK" when you are asked to confirm the operation.
  • 6. Click the "Read Only" in Privilege column and select "Read & Write".

By now, you have regained the read and write access to the WD My Passport.

Scenario 3: Your WD My Passport hard drive is corrupted

If you are sure that the read-only WD My Passport is not caused by NTFS file system nor read-only permission, another possible cause might be the disk corruption. When an external drive is corrupted, people suddenly have trouble reading or/and writing to the disk. Then you will have to fix the corrupted WD My Passport external hard drive to make it writable again. We will introduce two solutions here:

  • Fix the read-only WD My Passport in Disk Utility on Mac
  • Reformat the WD My Passport on Mac

Solution 1: Fix the read-only WD My Passport in Disk Utility on Mac

This solution might help you solve the read-only external hard drive problem without formatting. You will utilize a built-in tool on Mac called Disk Utility. It is used to manage internal and external disks on Mac. There is a function called First Aid in Disk Utility that can be used to check for and repair errors on the selected disk or volume.

Here is how to fix the read-only WD My Passport in Disk Utility:

  • 1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  • 2. Select the WD My Passport drive at the left sidebar.
  • 3. Click on First Aid and click on "Run" to repair the WD My Passport drive.
  • Fix read-only WD My Passport using First Aid in Disk Utility
  • 4. Click "Done" after the operation completes.

If First Aid fails to repair the WD external hard drive, your disk might be seriously corrupted. You will have to reformat the WD My passport to make it not read-only.

Solution 2: Reformat the WD My Passport for Mac

Reformatting the corrupted WD My Passport drive is the ultimate solution for fixing the read only file system on Mac. Follow the steps below to know how to make the WD My Passport compatible with Mac and PC.

  • 1. Make sure you have a copy of your important files on WD My Passport hard drive, or recover lost data from the external hard drive with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.
  • 2. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.
  • 3. Click on the WD My Passport drive at the left sidebar.
  • 4. Check Click "Erase" on the top of the Disk Utility window.
  • how to format WD My Passport in Disk Utility on Mac
  • 5. Input a name.
  • how to format WD My Passport in Disk Utility on Mac
  • 6. Choose FAT or exFAT as format for convenience because either of them is compatible with both Windows and macOS. Then, how to format the WD My Passport for Mac exclusive use? Simply choose APFS or Mac OS Extend format in Disk Utility, which also works if you want to format WD Elements for Mac.
  • how to format WD My Passport in Disk Utility on Mac
  • 7. Choose "GUID Partition Map" as Scheme.
  • 8. Click on "Erase" button.

You can reconnect the WD external hard drive to Mac again to see if it is writable now.

Conclusion

The external hard drive read-only on Mac problem doesn't happen to WD external hard drives only. Any external hard drive could be write-protected on Mac. It is quite common to see other notable external hard drive brand get the same complaint like Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, etc. When you come across the read-only disk problem on Mac, the post is always helpful.