Fix External NTFS Hard Drive Read-Only on Mac (Sonoma) – 6 Tips

Cassie Xie
Last updated: Dec 29, 2023
Summary: This post offers some possible fixes to help you solve the issue of NTFS drive read-only on Mac or external hard drive read-only on Mac (Sonoma/Ventura).
NTFS drive read-only on Mac

Why Is NTFS Drive Read-Only on Mac?

If you connect an external hard drive to your Mac but find it is read-only, the disk may be formatted in the NTFS file system (a Microsoft Windows-formatted file system). Mac is not fully compatible with NTFS. It only lets you read the disk but not copy or write files to the NTFS drive.

Check how to fix the external NTFS hard drive read-only on Mac (Sonoma/Ventura) below. 6 possible fixes are provided.

Fix 1. Use an NTFS for Mac App

If you want to change the NTFS drive from read-only to read-write status without formatting, you can use a professional NTFS for Mac software application.

BuhoNTFS, a top NTFS for Mac software program, helps you easily read, write, delete, move, create files, etc. on NTFS drives.

For macOS 10.13 and above
  1. Download and install BuhoNTFS on your Mac.
  2. Then you can connect the external NTFS hard drive to your Mac and launch the Mac NTFS writer program.
  3. Toggle on the "Allow Read & Write permission" option. This software helps you automatically mount the NTFS drive to read-write mode. Thus, you can flawlessly read and write the NTFS drive on your Mac as other hard drives.

Fix 2. Repair Corrupted Hard Drive on Mac

If the external NTFS drive is still showing read-only after you use an NTFS for Mac tool, the disk may have some corruption.

Some of the Mac NTFS tools also offer a disk repair option to help you repair the corrupted hard drive with one click.

Alternatively, you can also use Mac Disk Utility to fix the errors on the external hard drive. Check the steps below.

  1. Click the Spotlight search, type disk utility, and select the Disk Utility app to open it.
  2. If you don’t see the external hard drive in the sidebar, you can click View > Show All Devices.
  3. Select the target external drive from the left panel. Click the First Aid button at the toolbar and click Run to start checking and fixing the disk errors.
hard drive repair

Check if it helps fix the external hard drive read-only issue on Mac, if not, try other fixes in this post.

Fix 3. Convert NTFS to exFAT/FAT32

If you can’t copy or write files to NTFS drive on Mac and the external NTFS drive is read-only on Mac, you can also convert the NTFS drive to exFAT or FAT32.

The FAT file system is fully compatible with both Mac and Windows systems. If you need to frequently transfer files between Windows and Mac, exFAT or FAT32 would be the best file system format for an external hard drive.

If you want to convert NTFS to FAT32 or exFAT without losing data, you may find some professional partition conversion tools online.

Fix 4. Change the Drive Permission to Read-Write

If the external hard drive is read-only on Mac, it may be due to the file permissions set by its owner. You can try to change its permission to read-write status or ask the owner of the disk to change its privilege.

  1. Find the external hard drive in Finder.
  2. Right-click the disk and select Get Info.
  3. Scroll down to expand Sharing & Permissions.
  4. If it shows read-only, change its privilege to Read & Write.

Fix 5. Check Hardware Connections

If the external (NTFS) hard drive is read-only on your Mac, you can unmount and mount it again, restart your Mac, change another USB cable/adapter, or connect it to another computer to check if it works normally.

Fix 6. Format NTFS to APFS/exFAT/FAT32 with Disk Utility

If the external hard drive is still read-only after you try all possible fixes, you can copy all the needed data to another device and reformat it.

  1. You can use Spotlight to search and open Disk Utility on Mac.
  2. Click the target external hard drive from the left panel. Click the Erase button on the toolbar.
  3. Enter a name for the drive. Select a file system like exFAT, FAT, APFS, etc. from the list. Select a scheme.
  4. Click Erase to start formatting the disk. After that, you should be able to normally read and write on the drive on your Mac.

An Easy-to-use Mac Cleaner Tool for You

To optimize space usage and free up disk space for your Mac, you can utilize a professional Mac cleaner program.

BuhoCleaner lets you clean your Mac disk in a flash. You can use it to analyze your hard drive space, uninstall apps on Mac, delete large files or duplicate files, manage startup items, and more.


Bottom Line

This post provides 6 possible solutions to help you fix external NTFS hard drive read-only on Mac (Sonoma/Ventura). Hope now you can smoothly read, copy, edit, and write files on the NTFS drive from your Mac.

Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 5 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way anyone can understand.