How to Read and Write NTFS Drives on macOS Catalina

Trying to figure out why you can’t save files or change the contents of your external storage device on your Mac?

If you are unable to modify the contents of your external drive or unable to save new files, there is a high chance that your external device is using an NTFS file system format. 

New Technology File System or simply NTFS is a file system used by most Windows computers since the 90s. Now, why is it not working on macOS? 

As we all know, Microsoft and Apple offer their own operating system for desktops and laptops. While both companies try their best to make their OS compatible with other operating systems, Apple locks out its users from being able to manage NTFS drives on macOS. 

Thankfully, there are a few workarounds to this problem and that is what we are going to talk about in this guide. 

Let’s get started. 

1. Enable NTFS Writing on macOS. 

The primary reason why macOS is not able to modify or save new files on NTFS drives is that it is only set to read data from it. However, this doesn’t mean you can enable data writing on the drive. 

Thanks to a few terminal commands, you can enable macOS to write on NTFS storage devices. Keep in mind that this method is not officially supported by Apple and could come with additional risks like corrupting your device or bricking it permanently. 

Before doing anything on your drive, do yourself a favor and backup all of its content so that it is safe in case something goes wrong with this procedure. 

Now, let’s jump right into the guide. 

  1. First, plug in your NTFS drive to a Windows computer
  2. Now, press on Windows key + S and search for This PC
  3. Click on Open to launch it. 

  1. After that, right-click on your NTFS drive from the side menu and select Rename
  2. Finally, assign a one-word name for your drive. 

Once you are done renaming your NTFS drive, unplug it from the Windows computer and follow the steps below. 

  1. On your Mac, connect the NTFS drive using a USB or Thunderbolt cable
  2. After that, launch Finder and ensure that the drive is being detected on your Mac
  3. Now, go to the Applications tab inside the Finder and open the Utilities folder. 
  4. Inside the Utilities folder, find the Terminal app and open it. 

read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina

  1. Next, type sudo nano /etc/fstab and hit Enter. Type in your Admin password and hit Enter once more. 

read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina

  1. Finally,  type LABEL = (NTFS Device Name) none rw,auto,nobrowse then hit Enter. 

read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina

After the process has completed, press on Command + Q on your keyboard to save the changes. Close the terminal and reconnect your NTFS drive to your computer. 

Now, try to save or modify the files inside your NTFS storage device to see if everything is in order. 

2. Use Third-Party Applications. 

If you are not willing to risk bricking your NTFS storage device or find the steps above too complicated, can always go the easy route and use third-party applications. 

iBoySoft NTFS for Mac is an application that lets you read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina and its other versions without any problems.

Aside from giving you full access to your NTFS device, it also has features like mounting and unmounting NTFS volumes, formatting NTFS devices and managing other drives like exFAT and FAT32. 

The best thing about the software is that it is compatible with macOS 10.13 up to macOS 11.0, also known as Big Sur. 

To use the software, check out the guide below. 

  1. First, download and install iBoySoft NTFS on your Mac.  
  2. After that, restart your computer by clicking the Apple logo at the top-left corner of your screen, then select Restart
  3. Once you’ve restarted your Mac, connect your NTFS device using a USB or Thunderbolt cable
  4. Finally, open iBoySoft and you can do what you want on your drive as you would normally on an exFAT or FAT32 storage device. 

Since this problem has been present for many years, there are a lot of third-party applications on the App Store that offers the same functionality. Simply search for ‘NTFS drive’ on the App Store and it should give you several choices. 

3. Format Your NTFS Drive. 

The simplest way to use your NTFS drive on your Mac is to format it to another file system that macOS supports like exFAT and FAT32. 

While this is not an actual solution, changing the file system of your external drive is less complicated and risky compared to the methods above.  

However, you would need a computer running on Windows to perform this method. 

  1. On your Windows computer, connect your NTFS drive using a USB cable
  2. After that, press on Windows key + S and search for This PC
  3. Next, click on Open to launch it. 

read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina

  1. Inside This PC, right-click on your NTFS drive and select Format
  2. Lastly, change the File System of the drive to exFAT or FAT32 and hit the Format button to proceed. 

read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina

This should take a couple of seconds depending on your storage drive and computer. After formatting the drive, go back to your Mac and connect the external drive once again. Try to save a couple of files on the drive to see if everything is working as it should. 

This ends our guide on how to read and write NTFS drives on macOS Catalina. If you have questions, leave a comment below and we would try our best to answer them. 

If this guide helped you, please share it. 🙂 


  • John Sixto

    John is a staff writer at Saint and comes from a SAP ABAP development background. He has a Bachelors in IT and has been writing since 2018, with over 500 posts published. He loves to build PCs and has a deep curiosity in understanding how different components and configurations work. John spends hundreds of hours at a time, researching and testing the software and apps, before he proceeds to write about it. LinkedIn X (Twitter) Website

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