How to write NTFS disks on Mac: The complete guide

If you have a Mac and often use pendrive or hard disk to exchange data, you will certainly have failed to write on one of these external devices. The reason is very simple: macOS, the Mac operating system, cannot write to NTFS disks. With this guide, we will find out how to write NTFS disks on Mac.

All disks that are read by a computer have a tabular structure to organize the data. This structure is defined by the file system (for more information on what is a file system I suggest you to read this page of wikipedia). Therefore the operating system must know the structure of the file system of the disk connected to the computer if it wants to be able to read and write NTFS disks on Mac.

NTFS is a file system developed by Microsoft in the nineties and has never been fully supported by Apple computers. For this reason, with your Mac, you can only read files formatted in NTFS but do not write to them. In this guide, I would like to show you how to make macOS compatible with disks formatted with the Microsoft file system.

Before showing you how to write NTFS disks on Mac, check that the pendrive or the hard drive you can not write on is actually formatted in NTFS. To do this, on your Mac, right-click on the disk on your desktop and select Get Info. In the General tab there is the Format entry that indicates the file system with which the disk was formatted. If you read NTFS, then in this guide you will find the solution to write about it.

How to write NTFS disks on Mac

There are several solutions that allow you to enable writing NTFS disks on Mac. Many of these involve the use of paid software such as Paragon NTFS. I understand that you do not want to spend money to solve the problem. For this reason, in this guide I would like to show you a free solution that allows you to write NTFS disks on Mac, which therefore does not involve the purchase of any paid application.

For the purposes of this article, I will show you how to install and configure the FUSE for macOS tool. I use it for many years on my Mac and consider it the best free tool that allows you to write NTFS disks on Mac. Before proceeding with its installation, you must disable some protections entered by Apple in the latest versions of macOS. Unfortunately, this step is necessary if you want to complete this guide. It’s nothing complex, do not worry. At the end of the guide we will enable these protections again. Here is the index of the operations we are going to perform:

  1. Disabling SIP (System Integrity Protection)
  2. Installation of Fuse for macOS
  3. Homebrew installation
  4. Installation of NTFS-3G
  5. Enable writing NTFS disks on Mac

1. Disabling SIP (System Integrity Protection)

The SIP was introduced by Apple to prevent malicious software from modifying system files without the user’s knowledge. Fortunately, the company has given freedom to people aware of temporarily disable this protection function. In this guide we will have to deactivate the SIP to replace the macOS disk mounting system with the tool we are going to install during the guide. Here’s how to proceed.

  • Turn off the Mac.
  • Restart it by holding down the cmd keys until the recovery mode starts. The interface is very similar to what you see using the Mac in ” normal ” mode.
  • From the top menu select Utility -> Terminal.
  • A white window will open. This is the terminal. type the following command and press enter:

csrutil disable
Now you can restart your Mac. The SIP has been deactivated correctly.

2. Installation of FUSE for macOS

After you have disabled the SIP, you can proceed to the installation of FUSE for macOS. It is an open source tool whose development started back in 2011 with the name OSXFUSE. So there is no need to worry, as all the source code can be read and analyzed by security experts (you can find all the program code on Github ). Furthermore, the development team has many years of experience in the sector behind it.

  • First, login to the official website of FUSE for MacOS and download the latest version of the tool from the link in the right sidebar.
  • Open the file you just downloaded. A window will open containing three files. One of these is FUSE for macOS.pkg. Double click on it to start the installation.
  • Follow the wizard. When asked to choose the packages to install, select both FUSE for macOS Preference Pane and MacFUSE compatibility layer.

Complete the installation wizard and wait for the entire process to come to an end. In just a few minutes you will have FUSE for macOS installed on your Mac.

3. Installation of Homebrew

Before the guide comes to an end, you need to install another pair of tools. The first of these is called Homebrew. It is not a real application, but a registry (or rather a registry) that contains thousands of applications that can be installed in one simple step. In our context, Homebrew is essential to install the program that I will show you in the next step.

  • April the Terminal program that is installed on your Mac. You find it in Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal.
  • Now access the official Homebrew website. Under the heading Homebrew there is a line containing the code. Copy it and paste it in the terminal window and press enter.
  • You will see the Homebrew installation start. When asked, press Enter again. You will be asked to enter your Mac password. Enter it and press enter to complete the procedure.

The installation of Homebrew will last for a few minutes. Good! At this point you are ready to move on to the next point.

4. Installation of NTFS-3G

You’re almost at the end! Now you just have to install a last program, NTFS-3G, which will allow you to write NTFS disks with your Mac. The installation of this tool will be simplified by Homebrew, which I show you how to install in the previous paragraph.

  • Return to the Terminal you opened earlier. If you had closed it, open it again.
  • Copy the following command, paste it in the terminal and press enter to confirm.
brew outdated && brew update && brew upgrade && brew doctor && brew install ntfs-3g

In short, by typing this command in the terminal you are checking that the installed version of Homebrew is the last installed (if it was not automatically updated) and then install the NTFS-3G tool. Have you seen how Homebrew simplified the installation of the NTFS-3G tool? Trust me, without this tool, this passage would have been much more complicated. Well, now you’re ready to finish all the operations.

5. Enable writing NTFS disks on Mac

This last step replaces the Apple tool to open hard drives and pendrives on Mac with NTFS-3G. In this way you will be able not only to read but also to write NTFS disks on Mac. This is the key step for which you have requested the deactivation of SIP at the first point.

  • The first thing you must do is to identify the name of the disk on which the operating system is installed on your Mac. To do this, open the Finder and from the top menu select Go -> Go to Folder…
  • Type and click on the Go button.
  • At the top of the window you can read the name of your disk. The most common names can be Macintosh or Macintosh HD. Mark this name somewhere. You will need it soon.
  • Go back to the Terminal and type the following command.
sudo mv "/Volumes/[NOME DISCO]/sbin/mount_ntfs" "/Volumes/[NOME DISCO]/sbin/mount_ntfs.orig"

You have to replace [DISC NAME] with the name of your disk you have previously marked (you do not have to write the two square brackets). For example, if your disk is called Macintosh, the command to be typed becomes the following:

sudo mv "/Volumes/Macintosh/sbin/mount_ntfs" "/Volumes/Macintosh/sbin/mount_ntfs.orig"

WARNING: It may happen that the name of your disk contains spaces (for example Macintosh HD ). In this case, it is necessary to add the word \ between one word and another. So if the disk is called Macintosh HD you will have to enter the name Macintosh \ HD. This passage is essential. If you fail to type the name you will not be able to write to NTFS disks on your Mac.

  • To finish the guide, type the last command in the Terminal, remembering to replace [DISK NAME] with the name of your Mac disk.
sudo ln -s /usr/local/sbin/mount_ntfs "/Volumes/[NOME DISCO]/sbin/mount_ntfs"

Compliments! Now secin able not only to read but also to write on the disks formatted in NTFS on your Mac.

Optional: SIP activation (recommended)

The first point of this guide included the disabling of the SIP. In this last step I will show you how to rehabilitate this form of protection inserted by Apple in all the latest operating systems. As stated in the title, this step is not mandatory but I strongly recommend you to run it. It’s very simple. You will only take a few minutes to complete it and this will increase the security of your Mac.

  • Turn off the Mac.
  • Restart it by holding down the cmd + keys until the recovery mode starts. The interface is very similar to what you see using the Mac in ” normal ” mode.
  • From the top menu select Utility -> Terminal.
  • In the Terminal type the following command and press enter:

csrutil enable
Done. Given how simple it was? Now you can start writing NTFS disks on your Mac. Let me know if this procedure has been helpful. Should you encounter any problems, do not hesitate to ask for help through the comments section at the end of this article.

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