Macos – How to copy files to read-only NTFS hard drive on a Mac

external hard drivemacosntfs

I want to copy my some files from Mac (Macbook-Air) to an USB external hard drive, formatted as NTFS.

How is it possible? Because when I do copy my files from the Mac and go to paste them on the external HD there is no option for paste.

Best Answer

The problem is that your drive is NTFS formatted. OS X can't write NTFS out of the box (at least not without some tweaks). Here are some ways to do this.

Format the drive as FAT-32

This is the obvious answer to those who don't want to install software that potentially could harm their data (which is always the case with hacks / unstable software). Re-format the drive to FAT-32, which both Windows and OS X can read and write out of the box.

This is of course not a solution for files larger than 4GiB.

NTFS-3G via Homebrew installation

If you have Homebrew, installing NTFS support is as easy as running the following in a terminal:

brew install ntfs-3g

Then, follow the instructions on the screen. Homebrew will tell you how to replace the default OS X automounter so external NTFS drives are mounted using the new driver. Those are a couple of commands you need to run through your terminal.

NTFS-3G via GUI installation

This is a free version (there's also a paid one, and the free one's a bit harder to find).

  • First, download and install Fuse for OS X and select the MACFUSE compaibility layer during the install.

  • Then, download NTFS-3G, a free NTFS driver. Download the latest version from here and install it.

  • You will have a new option in System Preferences that enables you to write to NTFS drives.

Commercial solutions

These are not free, but offer support and promise better speed/stability.


  • There is SL-NTFS, which isn't maintained anymore, but promises to enable NTFS write support on Snow Leopard (10.6).

    Because SL-NTFS is basically an interface for configuring the Apple NTFS driver, any issues you might encounter will be related to the Apple driver rather than SL-NTFS. If you require a more robust, supported solution for writing to NTFS drives/partitions, I recommend you locate a more comprehensive solution.

  • This is a hack for enabling NTFS write support on OS X 10.6 which involves some command line tweaks. Again, use it at your own risk.

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