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Mac OS X has always been able to read NTFS drives, but tucked away in Mac OS X is a hidden option to enable write support for drives formatted as NTFS (NTFS stands for New Technology File System and is a proprietary file system format for Microsoft Windows) . Enabling NTFS write support on the Mac is fairly technical and not officially supported by Apple, making it an experimental feature this is best left to experienced users who understand the process and the possible consequences.
Because this feature is not officially supported by Apple, NTFS should not be considered a reliable cross-platform file system for moving files between a Mac and a Windows PC, users will still want to format drives for the FAT file system for optimal Mac to / from PC disc compatibility with full read and write support (perhaps a better solution for many users would be to use samba networks and share files directly over a local network between the PC and the Mac in question). Moreover, the lack of official support suggests that something could potentially go wrong, either in the form of kernel panics or even theoretical data loss on the NTFS drive. Accordingly, such a feature is perhaps best as a last resort and should not be used with important data on Windows drive without having adequate backups of those files. So do the right thing and go back up your stuff first.
Comfortable with all that? Great, we’ll be discussing two different ways to enable NTFS write support in Mac OS X, this has to be used per disk and it requires using the command line.
Enable Mac OS X NTFS write support using Drive UUID
While it’s a little more complicated than the disk name-based approach mentioned below, it’s really the best method for precision.
Connect the NTFS drive to the Mac and then get the UUID of the NTFS drive with the following command string: diskutil info / Volumes / DRIVENAME | grep UUID
With the resulting UUID, use the following command to add the UUID with support for NTFS read and write to / etc / fstab:
sudo echo “UUID = ENTER_UUID_HERE no ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse” >> / etc / fstab
The NTFS drive probably won’t appear on the desktop by default, but you can access it in the / Volumes / folder by opening that folder in the Finder with the following command:
open / Volumes
If you want to see the drive on the desktop (assuming the desktop is showing of course), you can create a Finder alias with a symbolic link:
sudo ln -s / Volumes / DRIVENAME ~ / Desktop / DRIVENAME
You can also use the experimental NTFS write mount with a drive name instead of UUID, which we’ll discuss next.
Enable NTFS write support with the drive name
For precision I prefer to use the UUID method, but you can also add NTFS write support using the Windows drive name using the following command:
sudo echo “LABEL = DRIVE_NAME no ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse” >> / etc / fstab
Since this uses the sudo command, you must enter an administrator password in order for the entire command to run correctly. This command string will add the drive name to the end of the / etc / fstab file, because / etc / is a system directory that requires superuser access to write to files in that directory, so the required sudo prefix.
For example, adding read / write support to an NTFS drive named “WINDOWS8” would look like this:
sudo echo “LABEL = WINDOWS8 none ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse” >> / etc / fstab
If the drive has a complex name, use the UUID method mentioned above or rename the NTFS drive in Windows before trying to mount it with write support.
Again, you’ll want to look in / Volumes / to find the newly mounted Windows NTFS drive with full read and write support. As mentioned earlier, it can also be useful to create a symbolic link on the OS X desktop to easily access the mounted NTFS drive:
sudo ln -s / Volumes / DRIVENAME ~ / Desktop / DRIVENAME && open ~ / Desktop / DRIVENAME
There are several simpler but older tools to automatically complete the above mentioned processes, but the previously mentioned NTFS Mounter utility seems to have stopped working after Snow Leopard, which is why modern versions of OS X, from Mountain Lion to Mavericks, will use the command line approach. Paid third-party apps are also available to provide NTFS support to OS X, which may be better options for corporate environments where an experimental feature is not considered reliable enough to bet.
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