How do I change permissions for an external hard drive?
Question by Andrew /
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I recently got a Mac, and am having a problem using my external hard drive. I only have “permission” to read files on my external hard drive. I am not allowed to write or edit files on the hard drive when using Mac OS. The only solution I have found is to format the drive with the Mac OS.
Is there any easier option to change the drive’s “Sharing & Permissions”?

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Answers (51)
  • Hosany Noor

    Hi, i've got a little problem... I was using an external hard-drive on my macbook now am trying to copy my files to my windows 7 laptop but the thing is that the external hard-drive doesn't recognized the hard-drive. I don't see that drive icon in the my computers. Can anyone help me please with this.

    • Tina

      I recommend asking a new question. You are unlikely to receive a solution within this thread, at least not quickly.



  • Cssrex

    On thing that can express my feelings here : THANKS :)

  • Slabslab

    there is no little lock on the bottom right after the GET INFO click

  • The Ultimate Apple Fan!

    all you have to do is go to the hard drive, right click and go to "Get info". Then scroll down to the little lock on the bottom right and type in your password. Once your done that then click on the options on any of the users and you are done! Now thanks to me your problem should be solved!

  • Guest234234

    Tuxera also has a similar app, works like a charm on Lion OS X!

  • Westwon

    this is the best little program i have came across ... i used it today again on a external hd after running VMWARE ... cause it seems to cater to the pc side of life. :|~

  • Pooppoo

    damn yo i have the same problem does anyone know what type i have to convert my external hard drive into for my macbook pro to write to it. It is is NTSF now. daaaaaaaaaaaaamn i need some genius tech right now

  • Torrey

    I've asked this question to someone that has switched from a PC to MAC they suggested I copy everything from the external drive to the laptop. Reformat the external drive for MAC and then transfer everything back. The transfer process will probably take longer than the format. Either that or buy another external drive.

    • Tina


      that sounds like a sound solution, although complicated. But since the formatting of the hard drive appears to be the problem, moving the data and re-formatting is the logic consequence.

      The only other way I can think of is finding a hack that will help your Mac to read and write to the file system that the hard drive is currently formatted in.

  • Dan Coogan

    I have the same problem... I want to modify a photoshop jpeg and save the changes, but I get a message that says I am unable to write to the disk... I am the admin.  When I get Info on the external drive, under Sharing & Permissions it says "You can read only" and the names and privileges are grayed out, so is the + - and Action menu.

    • Tina


      I recommend that you ask a new question!

    • Jwhitsch

      I have to say your answer "I recommend that you ask a new question!" to be rude and arrogant. 

      I have been dealing with this same problem for years. In my work I produce large amounts of data and I prudently back everything up. Some how 4 of my 11 external HD's are now read only. 

      I have been able to get around this by plugging the problem drives into my Airport's USB port and can write to the drive that way. A slow process but has helped me out in a pinch. The 4 drives effected are 2 TB each and nearly full. To simply copy to another drive and reformat will fix the problem only in the short term since it doesn't address how this happened in the first place. It's like changing your tire every time it has a nail in it but not bothering to sweep up the barrel of nails that some one spilled in your garage. I would rather sweep up the nails and patch the tire.I expect better from apple.

    • Tina


      my answer was not intended to sound rude nor arrogant.

      I manage this forum and I'm probably the only one who reads all the comments on this forum. Unfortunately, I don't have all the answers!

      I know from experience that a reply to an old question rarely receives a response because it doesn't receive any fresh exposure. People who have previously replied are notified of the new comment, but they may not be able to help more than they already did. And someone who finds the more recent comment through Google usually does so because they have the same problem.

      Hence, I recommend people to ask a new question, giving them the chance that someone who knows the answer will see it and respond with a solution.

    • Jwhitsch


      I'm sorry I misunderstood you. The exclamation point at the end of your post threw me. Having moderated a forum and a chat server in the past I can appreciate the work you do. I was having a BAD day and then the drive I have my current projects had this permissions mess up and I felt sympathy for any one in the same predicament. Again I'm very sorry.I searched for answers and found your site and it seemed to have a good number of people with the same hair pulling problem. Being self employed I'm my own IT dept. so forums such as this are a godsend so I often look to them for answers.

      There is a solution of sorts I posted hope it can help some one.

      Thanks again,


    • Tina

      No problem, Jenn. And thank you for sharing your solution!

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