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One of the frustrations of the split Mac and Windows world Computing Harmony: Seamlessly Blend Windows and OS X Computing Harmony: Seamlessly Blend Windows and OS X If you know the right tricks – most of which are simple and free – you can easily manage both the Windows and Mac OS X under the same roof. Read More  we live in is that the two giants both use different file systems From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] From FAT To NTFS To ZFS: File Systems Demystified [MakeUseOf Explains] Do you really know what your hard drive does whenever you read a file from it or write one to it? Our hard drives can now store massive amounts of data, and that massive space... Read More . Microsoft prefers their own proprietary NTFS system on Windows, while Apple deploys its HFS+ on OS X.

The problem is that, out of the box, the two systems cannot “talk” to each other. While Macs can read files on NTFS drives, OS X cannot write to them by default. If you plug a NTFS-formatted drive into your Mac you’ll see your mouse cursor turning into an error sign if you try and drag a file onto it.

This can obviously lead to issues with regard to sharing files and file management, so the solution is to give your Mac the ability to write to NTFS.

Sadly, some of the most common methods broke with the recent release of El Capitan, so how can you fix them? MakeUseOf investigates…

The Paid Options

There have always been premium options available to users who want NTFS drivers on their machines. Two of the most popular are Paragon NTFS and Tuxera – however, they come with drawbacks.

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For example, older versions of Paragon recently stopped working on El Capitan, forcing users to pay for an upgrade and lumbering them with a time-consuming reinstallation process. Who knows what problems they might encounter with future OS X releases? When will Paragon decide that, once again, users need to pay an upgrade fee to access their data?

paragon-prices

You also have to pay for each license you require. So while Paragon charge $19.95 USD and Tuxera charge $31 USD for a single download, the cost can quickly start racking up if you need the drivers on multiple machines in your home or office.

Why not avoid the hassle and the cost by doing it for free?

Free Method 1: Use the Terminal

It is a little-known fact that Macs actually do support writing to NTFS drives, but the feature is disabled by default. Granted, this method is not as fast or as straightforward as the second method which we will come to shortly, but it doesn’t require third-party tools – a fact that will no doubt appeal to some users.

This method requires that you enable access on a per-volume basis – so if you have multiple NTFS drives you will need to repeat this process multiple times. The process works by editing the system’s hidden fstab file, thus adjusting how your machine handles NTFS volumes after they are plugged in.

Firstly, ensure that your external NTFS-formatted hard drive has a short and easy to replicate name – you’re going to need to use it a lot and want to keep things simple.

Next, navigate to Finder > Applications > Utilities and launch Terminal. You can also use Spotlight for this 7 Good Habits Every Mac User Should Get Used To 7 Good Habits Every Mac User Should Get Used To Today we're going to share our favourite good Mac habits, while desperately trying to forget the bad ones. Read More by hitting cmd+spacebar, typing “Terminal” then hitting enter.

Once open, type sudo nano /etc/fstab and enter your password when prompted. You will be presented with an editor window for the fstab file.

fstab-edit-v2

Type LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse (making sure that you replace NAME with the name of your external drive) and press enter. Then press ctrl+o to save the file followed by ctrl+x to exit the editor window.

Next, eject your drive and then reconnect it. The drive will no longer show in Finder, but can be accessed by returning to Terminal and entering open /Volumes.

mac-volumes

In the window that opens, you will be able view your drive, as well as copy, edit, and drag files onto it. If you will be using the drive regularly, you can ensure faster access by dragging it to the sidebar or making an alias How to Define Command Line Aliases on Any Operating System How to Define Command Line Aliases on Any Operating System We've talked about, and recommended getting to grips with your computer's command line terminal numerous times in the past. Tina wrote a good primer for Windows users with A Beginner's Guide To The Windows Command... Read More .

Free Method 2: Use Third-Party Tools

For this method you’ll need FUSE for OS X, NTFS-3G, and fuse-wait; and you’ll need to action a couple of terminal commands in Recovery Mode.

The trick to making the process work on El Capitan is disabling the System Integrity Protection What Mac Users Need To Know About El Capitan Security What Mac Users Need To Know About El Capitan Security Security is the biggest change to OS X 10.11 El Capitan. OS X is now so locked down even root users can't modify the operating system – let's go over what that means, shall we? Read More prior to installation. Failure to do this will make NTFS-3G fail.

To do that, restart your system and hold down cmd+r while it reboots – it will start the device in Recovery Mode.

Next, click on Utilities, open the Terminal, type csrutil disable, press Enter, and reboot the system.

mac-recovery

You can now install the software. Start with FUSE for OS X – it is a necessary program for any Mac driver that deals with third-party file systems. During the installation, make sure you select the MacFUSE Compatibility Layer. If you don’t install this layer, the next part of the process will not work.

fuse-osx

The next tool to install is NTFS-3G. This is the main component of the process and the software that will actually provide your Mac with the NTFS drivers.

When given the choice, make sure you select No caching rather than UBLIO caching.

ntfs-3g-install

Once the installation is complete, reboot your computer. You might find you get a lot of on-screen warnings when your desktop loads back onto the screen, but you can safely ignore them – they are caused by the fact the NTFS-3G software has not been updated by its developers in a long time.

Finally, you need to install fuse-wait. This is the part of the process that will remove those annoying pop-up error messages.

Once this is all done, you’ll need to re-enable the System Integrity Protection. Boot your Mac into recovery mode, fire up the terminal, and type csrutil enable.

Reboot your machine one last time, and voila, you now have NTFS write capabilities on El Capitan.

Warnings

Be aware that all three methods listed above are unsupported by Apple, and as such might have adverse effects on your system. You might discover limitations, stumble across unknown “side-effects”, or even damage your volumes.

As always, make sure all your data is backed-up Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools From custom backup times to finding out where those 2 GB of new files are, the right apps can give you power and knowledge Apple's own tools just don't provide. Read More and secure before you attempt any of the changes listed.

Did it Work for You?

What method did you choose? Did you manage to follow our instructions? Was it a success?

Leave a comment below with any problems you encountered. Either ourselves or your fellow readers might be able to help you!

  1. Leo
    December 3, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Free method 2 worked for me. Thanks for posting.

  2. nat
    October 17, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Urgent Question!
    After upgrading the mac to Sierra my computer didnt allow me to edit files in my external drive. So I just tried the first method. After entering the code to the terminal I can't even see my Samsung (hard drive) in the finder.
    Can someone help me to relocate , or bring it back?

    • nat
      October 17, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Note: I cant see the driver in open /Volumes either.
      I deleted what I entered to "sudo nano /etc/fstab". However nothing is changed. The driver is lost. I'm trying to "mount" it from the disk utilities but this doesn't work also.

  3. Toni
    October 10, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Thanks! The terminal option worked for me. How do I reverse it though?

    • nat
      October 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      I also need help in this. After applying the terminal option I cant reach to my driver in the open/volume. I have to reverse whatever I did.

  4. Horacio
    August 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Oh!

    I forgot... I used the 2nd method

    Amazing and easy!

    Regards!

  5. Horacio
    August 25, 2016 at 8:41 am

    You are amazing!!

    I Do it!!

    At least!!

    God Bless you!!

    One GeopByte of thanks!!

    HC

  6. jorge
    August 13, 2016 at 4:36 am

    executed the method 1 and worked for me

  7. christns@yahoo.com
    August 12, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    It works!
    example: LABEL=AUDI\040NTFS none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse

    Important:

    \040 for space in the Label
    no browse

    See the description in the comments from Beny Hirmansyah!

  8. Beny Hirmansyah
    July 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    For you guys who have problem with Method 1:

    1. If your NTFS hard drive has blank space on its name, just add \040 as replacement for space. For example, my NTFS hard drive name is My Passport, so I will type on my terminal like this:

    LABEL=My\040Passport none ntfs rw,auto,no browse

    2. Probably your mounted drive icon on desktop will disappear, this is normal. Just follow tutorial above. Type into your terminal -> open /Volumes ,and you'll see your NTFS hard drive again.

    3. How to create alias? Simple, I make my NTFS hard drive shortcut to my desktop with this command in terminal:

    ln -s "/Volumes/My Passport" ~/Desktop

    and voila! you can access your drive instantly using those shortcut. Rinse and repeat all steps again if you have multiple hard drive.

    • Beny Hirmansyah
      July 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I forgot something. I recommend you to make alias or symlink to Volumes folder instead linking to the hard drive directly. Type this command:

      ln -s /Volumes ~/Desktop

      This way, you only has one shortcut to all of your NTFS drive and you safely eject those drive by right-clicking to the drive icon.

  9. rosie
    July 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I can do everything up to pressing ctrl+x which gives an error sound and doesn't close the terminal.. so I left it open and continued with the steps but my HD is still not writable. Heeelppp...

  10. Luis
    July 9, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    I did method 1 (fstab hack ) and it worked, then I can used my 2TB Toshiba disk again, actually I saved some new files on the external disk. But, suddenly, after saved them (appartenly without problems) now I can see only 9 files on the Finder (they sum up 10 GB while the disk info says it has 187 GB). I tried to save again same files and Finder says they are already there (overwrite or abandone...) Moreover, I opened the disk on the TV and it finds 12 files (instead of 9) but far from the 187 GB I have ....
    Ive tried to revert the fstab hack and , again, it was like at the beginning, without writing or modifying the disk but ONLY with the last 9 files showed
    What happened??? The rest of the files seem to be there but i cant see them I cant open them. It all happend when, after checking I could modify the files (after fstab hack) i saved new files on the disk
    anyone can help me please?? im very worried about the files I cant see now

  11. R. Joe
    July 3, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    For method one, is there a fall back? ie, undo the edited tstab file.

    • Loganathan
      July 21, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Use the same command sudo nano /etc/fstab and remove the line you typed
      press ctrl+o to save and press ctrl+x

  12. Bilo
    June 28, 2016 at 7:04 am

    I was Googleing how to read NTFS on MAC and found this. The first option didn't work for me, the volume is disappered and not showing up on everywhere unless I revert to original settings (delete fstab file).

    The second option worked for me, same as alexei, though the installation of ntfs-3g-2010.10.2-macosx.dmg has failed i was still able to force mount the ntfs driver in r/w. I think you should mention it on your article: the installation of NTFS-3G will fail but it will still work :D

    • kai
      July 24, 2016 at 6:24 am

      same issue occured to me . methord 1 didn't work now

  13. Nate S
    June 20, 2016 at 3:13 am

    I would advise against using the FUSE method 2. There are many issues with this involving overwriting files and directories. chkdsk errors and filesystems get corrupted easily if you don't completely flush the write cache (eg improper shutdown).

    If you don't believe me here is a test.

    create a folder called test and create some files there
    create another folder called test in another location and create some files there
    now drag one of the test folders into the same location and it will ask if you want to overwrite the test folder.
    (all the files from the original test folder are deleted.)
    so you have to be super careful about trivial things like this.

    This is why I use paragon, although it is at a cost, it is reliable and I have piece of mind when it comes to data integrity.

  14. alexei
    June 7, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Thank you Dan Price for these steps, the second option worked for me! Though the installation of ntfs-3g-2010.10.2-macosx.dmg has failed i was still able to force mount the ntfs driver in r/w.
    --Alexei

  15. olter
    June 6, 2016 at 3:44 am

    I used the Terminal method on my Mac (El Capitan).. it was working fine. But i was trying to solve the problem for my dad. I tried it on his Mac (El Capitan), it didn't work. I tried the Terminal method again on his Mac, it worked. I ejected the drive and put it back. It didn't work again. I gave up :)

  16. digii96
    May 21, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Hello People,

    I used the Terminal and everything worked out quite good but actually when I open /Volumes and plug in my external disk it appears and then directly disappears. I can find it in my Disk utilities but I am not able to do anything with it there.

    I'm using Mac OSX El Capitan and a Toshiba 2TB external disk.

    Can somebody help please help me?

  17. Michael
    May 11, 2016 at 4:03 am

    I chose Method 1--The Terminal.

    I'm no CLI geek but this was the fastest OS X tweak I've ever done. I've previously tried MacFUSE for something else and couldn't get it to work.

    Your directions are (nearly) flawless. Need to add a step to hit the Return key after typing control + o and before typing control + x.

    I ran into one hiccup: my drive name, "Library A," had a space in it and it didn't work. Replaced the space with and underscore and everything is aces.

    Excellent tutorial

  18. Iwan Binanto
    May 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Method 2 is work for me .. thanks .. I make a tutorial about this in my blog .. Thanks alot ..!!

  19. AJM
    May 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Dear all,
    Thanks for your suggestions.
    My NTFS external hard drive was –at least– allowing me to get data but not to copy into it (in El Capital) very well until I included the line LABEL=DISKNAME ... etc...

    Then the disk disappeared from the screen and I have not been able to make it show up again!
    Any help with this? Anyone having the same problem?

    Is there a way to go back to the original situation before I included this LABEL= line..? How do I delete that line?

    Thanks!
    Antonio

  20. John
    April 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I attempted to use the terminal method to no avail so I then attempted to use the 3rd part tools again to no avail. I followed all the instructions to the best of my abilities and nothing worked. To say that I am furious is an understatement. I've spent nearly an hour trying to regain the ability to write to NTFS disks that I had before "upgrading" to El Capitan. If I had known I would no longer be able to use my external hard drives anymore I never would have upgraded. I have three separate hard drives totaling 2.5 terabytes of media that I no longer have access to.

    • Axel
      May 7, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      open terminal: "open/Volumes"

      they will appears...

      or open terminal and nano sudo as you did. delete everything you wrote. tadam. everything fine again

  21. Axl
    April 15, 2016 at 8:27 am

    so the first method worked. But now some of my files disapeared ?!?! such as photo, and music... When I swip a file into a some folder, they just disappear... And when I connect my drive to a computer using windows, a msg of warning saying my folder is corrupted erupt..
    What to think about this? Can I get my files back ?

    • Axel
      April 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Precision: first connection of my drive with the fstab hack done. No pb, Works flawless...
      Then, I eject the drive. And restart my compruter to check if it is persistent. I connect the drive, it dosn't appear on my desktop (which is normal); I open it on Volumes; everything looks fine inside. I begin to tidy up things on my drive, and at a certain point notice that the folder ("Music") in which I putted in about 3gb of files is half empty! Oupsss ??? ... So I Cmd+Z, my music comes back where it was, and then I try again with two clearly separate windows of the finder.. When I drag my music the the folder "Music" (the one where my files where absent), they just disappear ! The transaction is done, the files are not where they were at the beginning, but neither in the new folder. Each of the 2 folder concerned indicates a low volume of data (= definitely no music...). This is a mystery. And this happened for some photo as well. I would drag a file, and then, it would appear on the new folder, and instantly disappear...

      I then connected my drive to a windows PC --> msg of error --> the PC propose to fix my drive --> fixed it --> everything is fine.
      I open terminal on my mac, delete the Line (LABEL=NAME ........), save (just make sudo nano blank again basically), my drive reappears now on the desk when I connect it, and everything is there. So no loss of data, just a little bit scared... BUT WHY ???

      • umur
        May 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        I used "Method 1" and disappear whole (4000 pics of a vacation) photos! DO NOT USE THAT METHOD!

        Axel, Do you know, how can i fixed the disappeared file in my HDD via Mac os x? i don't have any pc at home though.

        Cheers,
        Umur

  22. Olga
    April 7, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Worked :D
    Thanks!

  23. peter
    March 28, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks a lot, I've tried first method and it works!

  24. dd
    February 28, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Ok. As I said I tried the second method, but it doesn't work; so I tried the first method (enable writing via terminal) and it seems working. I also had the impression that the writing speed is faster than I was using ntfs-3g on Mavericks.
    I have two ntfs HDD and to have both enabled I wrote two lines in "nano". They seem working good. Thank you Dan.

  25. dd
    February 28, 2016 at 1:26 am

    noooo it didn'work. I tried the "ntfs 3g" way, but it did't work.

  26. Louise Nadon
    February 22, 2016 at 3:05 am

    Hi Dan,

    Tried the first method and the Volume was no longer appearing in the Finder as you mentioned but when I found it under /Volumes, it was still "read only". I foolhardedly deleted the /etc/fstab file and now I can no longer see the HD under /Volumes although it does appear in Disk Utilities. I thought there would be no harm in removing this file because I though it was a newly created file but just realized while reading the info above that it was replacing a previously hidden file which I have now wiped out! I can no longer even read my data to copy it elsewhere, what can I do? Can I recreate the original /etc/fstab file? Thanks.

  27. Ganes
    February 21, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Thanks Dan! Method 2 worked perfectly for my machine with OSX El Capitan.

  28. Sunny
    February 1, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Excellent article. Finally you helped me out with ntfs without using either Tuxera or Paragon. I couldn't make the first method but loved the ntfs-3g setup. Hope I won't have any issues with this :)

  29. lr
    January 28, 2016 at 2:39 am

    method 1 works perfectly. Thanks Dan for saving my day.:)

  30. jr
    January 26, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    God forbid Apple and/or Microsoft offer out-of-the-box file system compatibility.

  31. Michael
    January 25, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    I wish people would stop recommending disabling system integrity protection just like this. It is there for a reason, and disabling it opens big security risk. Any solution that include this shouldn't be recommended at all and left as a temporary solution for short amount of time.

    • Dan Price
      January 25, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Michael.
      I agree, but in my defence, I only advocate disabling while you're installing the necessary programs. My instructions end with the reactivation of it.
      Cheers,
      Dan

  32. Vikas
    January 25, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Simplest way is to format the pendrive to FAT 32 or ExFAT on any Windows machine. And voila, your problem is solved.

    • Dan Price
      January 25, 2016 at 7:51 pm

      Hi Vikas,
      The problem with FAT32 is that individual files cannot be more than 4GB. A lot of HD films are more than that.
      ExFAT is better, but won't work "out of the box" with Linux.
      Cheers,
      Dan

    • likefun butnot
      January 25, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      @Vikas,

      That does not solve any problem at all. It's highly probable that a disk drive that was previously used on a Windows computer was formatted with NTFS. If the data that is already on the disk presently has value, then formatting the volume and erasing that data is not a solution.

      I work in an environment mixed between OSX and Windows machines. Almost all data interface happens on our file servers. Swapping external drives does happen, but my Macs all have Paragon NTFS installed. It's expensive but easier to justify in a business setting than FUSE.

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