Enable Write to NTFS on macOS



Feb 25, 2019


At our home, we have a few external hard drives in the NTFS format. Although most of the time they are used on our Windows PC, occasionally, we do need to copy some files from our Macs to the hard drives.

The problem is, macOS natively supports read from an NTFS drive, but does not allow writes to it.

Of course, there are a few commercial software dedicated to solve this problem for Mac users. For example, we purchased a license for Microsoft NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software quite some time ago, and it worked well all the time.

However, since we have more Macs now, we'd really prefer not to pay an additional $20 for each and every Mac we own. So, we decided to explore the world of open source software and see what options are available.

Fortunately, we found out that there is an open source project called ntfs-3g, developed by Paragon's competitor, TUXERA. This software supports Linux, macOS, and many other operating systems.

Getting Started

In order to use it, we first need to install a dependency called osxfuse:

brew install --cask osxfuse

Then, install ntfs-3g:

brew install ntfs-3g

Next, we need to find out the identifier of the NTFS disk that we wish to mount:

diskutil list

Look for a section in the output that looks like this:

/dev/disk2 (external, physical):
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *4.0 TB     disk2
   1:       Microsoft Basic Data Drive                   4.0 TB     disk2s1

Now that we know the identifier is disk2s1, we can mount the drive with the ntfs-3g package.

sudo umount /dev/disk2s1
sudo mkdir /Volumes/Drive
sudo /usr/local/bin/ntfs-3g /dev/disk2s1 /Volumes/Drive -olocal -oallow_other -oauto_xattr


Greyed-out Files in Finder

For some unknown reasons, sometimes the files we copied to the NTFS disk appear greyed out in Finder, and they can't be opened or deleted.

Although the files themselves are not corrupted, and can be opened and deleted as per normal on Windows, this is still quite an annoying thing.

After doing some research, we found an easy fix for that:

xattr -d com.apple.FinderInfo /path/to/the/file

Performance Issues

I have to admit that the write performance of ntfs-3g is really not good. We are only able to get around 30 MB/s write speed most of the time.

According to the posts on the Internet, it seems like an known issue, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Copyright ©Jennifer