Fat32 Ntfs For Mac

By Katrina Posted to NTFS for Mac Tips, updated on May 25th, 2020
  1. Change Fat32 To Ntfs
  2. Fat32 Vs Ntfs Flash Drive
  3. Fat32 Vs Ntfs

External hard drives are important storage media for both Mac and Windows users. Usually, you can read and write to files on an external hard drive on your Mac. But there are chances that this external hard drive shows read-only on Mac. For example, many people have reported that their WD My Passport external hard drives are read-only on Mac. When you check its disk information, you will find you can only read the external hard drive on Mac. Moreover, users who use USB flash drives and SD cards on Mac also encounter this read-only problem.

You may be wondering why you can't write to this external hard drive even though you are the owner of this disk, and more importantly, if you can fix this read-only problem without formatting or not?

Format the External Drive to FAT32. This method is not very coinvent. Not at least for me. Microsoft NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software supports ALL the versions of NTFS (from Windows NT 3.1 to Windows 10). Microsoft NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software is able to get access to compressed files and folders, it has no problems with sparse files and enables all the needed operations with files and folders with security permissions.

Thus, this post will analyze three external hard drive read-only cases so that you can find a relevant and feasible solution to your problem.

Table of contents
Case 1: The read-only external hard drive is NTFS file system
Case 2: Disk permissions are changed as read-only
Case 3: Can't write to external hard drives on Mac due to disk errors
Bonus part: Fix SD card read-only on Mac

Case 1: The read-only external hard drive is NTFS file system

A file system controls how data is stored and retrieved on a disk. There are many different kinds of file systems, and each one has different structure and logic, properties of speed, flexibility, security, size, etc. By default, Windows uses Microsoft NTFS file system while Macs use HFS+ and APFS for OS volume. FAT32 and exFAT are usable for both Windows and Mac operating systems.

That's to say, you are unable to write to NTFS drives on macOS Catalina, Mojave, and any earlier Mac operating systems . If you try to copy or drag files on an NTFS-formatted external hard drive on Mac, you'll be unable to but see the greyed-out no symbol as below. And when you open files on this external hard drive, you will find your documents being read-only. For an NTFS file system SD card on Mac, files like photos are locked as you can only read them.

Therefore, if you find your external hard drive read-only, for example, a Seagate external hard drive shows read-only on Mac, the first thing that comes to your mind should be to check if this drive is NTFS file system.

How to check if an external hard drive is NTFS file system on Mac?

Simply, you can check this by viewing its disk information either in Disk Utility or in the Finder, and here is how.

Method 1: Check if an external hard drive is NTFS file system in Disk Utility

Step 1: Click on Launchpad at the dock of your Mac and choose Other in the menu.

Step 2: Choose Disk Utility among these utilities and open it.

Step 3: When it is launched, click on the external hard drive you have problem with in the left sidebar. You will see an obvious 'Windows NT File System' in the right column.

Method 2: Check if an external hard drive is NTFS file system in the Finder

You can also check this in the Finder with a few clicks.

Step 1: Open the Finder and right-click on this external hard drive.

Step 2: Choose Get info in the context menu.

Step 3: You will see 'Windows NT File System (NTFS)s' after File system if the read-only drive is formatted with Microsoft NTFS file system.

Then, after making sure that it is the Windows NTFS file system that makes your external hard drive read-only on Mac, you can go head to fix this problem. Try to repair the read-only external hard drive with or without formatting.

Solution 1: Format this external hard drive to exFAT/FAT32

It is possible that you just recently bought a new hard drive and found it is formatted as NTFS. In this case, if you don't have anything important on this drive or you have a copy of a data backup, you can simply format this external hard drive without worrying about data loss. To formatting this read-only hard drive, you can just go to Disk Utility and Erase it.

There are several formats you can choose, and erasing this disk into which file system depends on how you intend to use the drive.

  • APFS: If you plan to use the drive on macOS 10.15 Catalina, macOS 10.14 Mojave, and macOS 10.13 High Sierra, you can format it into APFS for better experience.
  • HFS+: It is also known as Mac OS Extended, whose later versions added journaling to prevent corruption of the file system structure. Therefore, you can choose HFS+ if you are going to use this external hard drive on macOS Sierra and earlier Mac operating systems.
  • FAT32/exFAT: If your storage device is an SD card or USB flash drive, and you'd like to read-write this portable drive both on Mac and Windows OS, you'd better erase it with exFAT or FAT32.

Solution 2: Run NTFS for Mac software on Mac

However, if you have several important files on this external hard drive, and you frequently swap your work between Windows and Mac computers, formatting this drive definitely is the last solution you would resort to. The reason is, as you may know, formatting a hard disk will wipe your data out of this drive and cause data loss.

Then when external drive is NTFS-formatted, how can you fix the read-only drive without formatting?

An NTFS driver for Mac should be the most convenient tool for people who want to fix this issue without formatting, because you can work natively and seamlessly on NTFS file system external hard drives on your Mac in a few clicks. The NTFS for Mac software you can try is iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to make the NTFS drives writable on Mac.

About iBoysoft NTFS for Mac

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac can mount NTFS external hard drives in read-write mode on your Mac, granting people full access to read, write, edit, copy, and delete files on NTFS-formatted drives.

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac- Best NTFS Disk Management for Mac

  • Grant full access to read, write, edit, copy, move, transfer, and delete files on NTFS file system external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives, etc. on Mac
  • Erase disks to NTFS file system on Mac
  • Unmount multiple drives with one click
  • Support macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8

iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is also a wonderful tool to manage NTFS external drives on Mac. It's a menu bar app, from which users can mount, repair, erase NTFS hard drives, external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives, etc. with a simple click.

Tutorial to write to NTFS-formatted external hard drive on Mac with iBoysoft NTFS for Mac

Step 1: Free download, install and launch iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on your computers.

Step 2: Connect NTFS external hard drive to Mac.

Step 3: Write to NTFS external hard drive after the external hard drive is mounted successfully.

Solution 3: Fix read-only NTFS external hard drives with the command line (not recommend)

You can also try the experimental method to enable NTFS read-write support with command prompt on your Mac. However, it is not recommended as it is not stable and could result in data loss if it goes wrong. So, use the command line with caution!

Warning: Do not use this method as a long-term solution to write to NTFS drives that contain important files. Meanwhile, do not use this method if you are not familiar with the command line, in case that you input a wrong command and cause unexpected damage to your Mac and drives.

Well, if you insist…here is how to do this:

Step 1: Click Go at the upper right of your desktop and go to the Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

Step 2: Input 'sudo nano /etc/fstab' to edit the fstab file (supply your password when prompted).

Step 3: Type 'LABEL=NAME none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse' in the editor window for the fstab file. (Be sure to change the word NAME to the name of your drive)

Step 4: Press Control + O to save the file, followed byControl + X to exit.

Step 5: Unmount your NTFS drive and attach it again.

Case 2: Disk permissions are changed as read-only

The Sharing and Permissions option is set up to determine who can delete or modify a file or program copied to the drive. Thus, if the permissions are changed by you or others, a message will pop up and inform you that the file is read-only or you don't have permission to save when you save changes to this disk.

In this case, if you right-click on the icon of your disk and choose 'Get info' to check the disk information, you will find you can only read this external hard drive or SD card even though it is not NTFS file system. That's to say, you can't write to this drive.

If this is the cause for your external hard drive being read-only, you can try the following solutions and fix this issue without formatting your drive.

Solution 1: Change the permission of this external hard drive

If your files on this external hard drive show as read-only or locked, or if you try to move some files to the Trash but get no response, you can try to change the permission of this disk.

Step 1: Open the Finder and find your external hard drive in the left sidebar.

Step 2: Right-click on this drive or volume and choose Get info, and then scroll down to Sharing & Permissions.

Step 3: Extend this column by clicking on the triangle symbol, and then click on the Lock icon.

Step 4: Input the password of your Mac, and click on Read only, then change your privilege as Read & Write in the right column.

Step 5: Click the gear button (Action menu) at the bottom of the window, choose Apply to enclosed items, and then click OK to confirm the action.

Solution 2: Ignore Permissions on external hard drive in the Finder

To prevent such errors from happening, Mac operating system includes a setting to ignore Permissions on external drives, so all files on the drive should be fully accessible regardless of their Permissions settings. Here below are steps to ignore the permission on external hard drives:

Step 1: Select the external hard drive on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar, and then press Command + I to get information on the drive.

Step 2: Click on the arrow that is on the left side of the Sharing & Permissions tab near the bottom of the window.

Step 3: Check the box to Ignore ownership on this volume, or toggle it off and then on if it's already enabled. (Provide the password of your Mac if it is required.)

Case 3: Can't write to external hard drives on Mac due to disk errors

Some internal errors will cause a drive to be read-only as well. When this happens, your drive will be only mounted in read-only mode to prevent the data on it from corruption.

Solution: Repair read-only external hard drive with Disk Utility

Fortunately, you can take some actions to repair these minor disk errors with Disk Utility on your Mac. You can use the following guide to fix read-only external hard drive in Disk Utility without formatting.

Step 1: Click Go at the upper right of your desktop and go to Utilities, and then open Disk Utility.

Step 2: Select the read-only external hard drive on the left window.

Step 3: Click First Aid in the and choose Run.

However, it is possible that an NTFS format is not the culprit of your disk being read-only. On the contrary, some other reasons make your disk not writable. For instance, if your disk becomes read-only after a macOS update, you may be facing one of the rare glitches of a macOS. Under this circumstance, if the solutions above are unable to fix this read-only external hard drive, you may need to format this drive, and then recover your important data from the formatted external hard drive instead.

Bonus part: Fix SD card read-only on Mac

Except for external hard drives, memory cards like micro SD cards and SDHC cards could be read-only on Mac as well. It could occur when your SD card is write protected, whether you access the SD card via a card slot or connect the camera to the Mac. If you have tried the solutions mentioned above and none of them work for you, here is a bonus tip.

Fat32 Ntfs For Mac

Solution 1: For most cases, you need to make sure that you slide the write protection switch to the unlocked positition. It's possible that some USB SD card adapters don't honor that switch, but the card reader on Mac definitely does.

Solution 2: If the SD card is read-only on Mac still, you may want to slide the read-write lock to the middle neutral position and retry. Strange though, sliding the 'lock' switch on the card halfway does help mount SD cards in read-write mode.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, external hard drives being read-only on Mac appears when they are not formatted correctly and the solutions above should be helpful. Nevertheless, if you failed to repair this hard disk even with Disk Utility, it could be a failed external hard drive which needs to be replaced, or you can try your luck by sending it to a local disk repair service.

Summary :

FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT are the three file systems users commonly use for Windows system. This article will illustrate to the differences between the three, analyzing their pros and cons, compatibility and usage in an all-rounded way.

Quick Navigation :

A file system uses a set of rules to control how data is stored and retrieved on a storage device. And FAT32, NTFS, exFAT are three different file systems commonly used in Windows. Each of the file systems has their own pros and cons. If you know them well, you can choose the correct file system for different needs.

Fat32 or ntfs for mac

If you don’t know the differences between NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT file system, don’t worry, this article will tell you what you should know for the three kinds of file systems and give you a brief comparison of NTFS vs FAT32 vs exFAT.

NTFS vs FAT32

NTFS File System

NTFS is short for New Technology File System, created by Microsoft and introduced in 1993 with Windows NT 3.1. Windows NT and Windows 2000 are the primary operating systems using the NTFS file system. Nowadays, NTFS is the most widely used file system in Windows, especially for its system drive and most internal hard drives.

As a modern and advanced file system, NTFS has many features not available to FAT32 and exFAT. For detailed information, you can refer to following contents to learn its pros and cons, compatibility and usage.

Pros:

  • Supports very large files and it nearly has no realistic partition size limit by changing cluster size
  • Enables users to set file permissions and encryption as a file system with higher security
  • Automatically restores the consistency of the file system by using its log file and checkpoint information
  • Enables users to compress files, folders or the whole drive when they are running out of disk space
  • Uses a change journal to help restore information quickly if power failure or other system problems occur
  • Enables users to set disk quotas, limiting the amount of space users can consume
  • No realistic file size or partition size limits

Cons: Not compatible with very old operating systems

Compatibility:

  • Compatible with all versions of Windows
  • Read-only with Mac OSX by default, and may be read-only by default with some Linux distributions
  • Only a few Linux variants are able to provide write support for NTFS

Usage: An NTFS file system is perfect for your Windows system drive and other internal drives or external hard drives with large capacities that will just be used with Windows.

FAT32 File System

The FAT32 file system is also called File Allocation Table file system, which was created in 1977 by Microsoft. FAT32 is an older file system that’s not as efficient or advanced as NTFS, but does offer greater compatibility with other operating systems and removable storage devices.

The biggest FAT32 file system limit is that it cannot store a single file larger than 4 GB. So, sometimes you may come across 'File is too large for destination file system' error when using FAT32 file system.

Pros: Compatible with all versions of Windows, Mac, Linux, game consoles, HDTVs, bootable disk and practically anything with a USB port

Cons:

  • Cannot store a single file which is larger than 4GB
  • Cannot create a FAT32 partition that is larger than 8 TB (Windows only recognizes 2TB)
  • Lacks the permissions and other security features built into the more modern NTFS file system
  • Modern versions of Windows are unable to be installed to a drive formatted with an FAT32 file system

Compatibility:

  • Compatible with removable flash drives and other forms of USB interface-based storage
  • Compatible with all versions of Windows, Mac, Linux, game consoles, and practically anything with a USB port
Fat32

Usage: Flash drives will often be formatted with FAT32 for maximum compatibility. If you want to use it on removable drives, you’d better format the drive to FAT32. Be sure not to store a single file that is larger than 4 GB.

NTFS vs FAT32

Compared with NTFS file system, FAT32 is more compatible with old operating systems and all kinds of removable storage devices. However, it has limits on file size and partition size, which may cause inconvenience if you want to store large files.

NTFS has more advantages than FAT32 in security, partition size, and file permissions and so on. If you are using a modern Windows operating system, you’d better format internal hard drives to NTFS. Besides, recent Windows system partition must be formatted to NTFS file system.

Some of you may wonder: I want to use NTFS file system as it has so many advantages. However, I have formatted my file system to FAT32 and stored important files in it. How can I convert FAT32 to NTFS without data loss?

Well, I do have a free method for converting FAT32 to NTFS without data loss. For users’ convenience, here I will show you detailed steps and screenshots about how to convert FAT32 to NTFS with freeware – MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

Free Convert FAT32 to NTFS Without Data Loss

MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition is a free partition manager trusted by tens of millions of users. As an expert in partition management, this partition magic can help you reconfigure hard disk, format partition, convert MBR to GPT without data loss, check file system, migrate Windows to HD/SSD, copy disk, perform disk surface test, wipe disk and so on.

Using this all-in-one partition manager to convert FAT32 to NTFS is very safe. Users can convert FAT to NTFS without causing any data loss.

Note: If you want to convert NTFS to FAT32 without data loss, you need to get MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro Edition, which has more advanced features on disk and partition management.

Now, follow the steps as below to convert FAT32 to NTFS file system for free.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install it on your computer and launch it to get the main interface.

Step 2. Choose the FAT32 partition that you want to convert and select convert FAT to NTFS from the left action panel.

Change Fat32 To Ntfs

Step 3. Click Start button to start the FAT to NTFS conversion.

Mac

Step 4. After the conversion is completed, you can click Close to exit the window.

By following the steps above, you can convert FAT32 to NTFS without any data loss.

exFAT File System

exFAT is the abbreviation of Extended File Allocation Table. It is a file system introduced by Microsoft in 2006, which is similar to FAT32 files system, but does not have the limits of FAT32 file system.

Designed to be a replacement for FAT32, exFAT is optimized for flash memory such as USB flash drives and SD cards, though some very older ones may only support FAT32.

Pros:

  • More widely-compatible than NTFS, but not quite match FAT32’s compatibility
  • Allows users to store files much larger than the 4 GB allowed by FAT32
  • No realistic file-size or partition-size limits

Cons:

  • Not as compatible as FAT32
  • Lacks journaling functionality and other advanced features built into the NTFS file system

Compatibility:

  • Works with all versions of Windows and modern versions of Mac OS X
  • Compatible with Linux, but additional software will be needed

Usage: You can use exFAT file system when you need to create large partitions and save files larger than 4GB and when you need more compatibility than what NTFS offers. And for swapping or sharing large files, especially between OSes, exFAT is a good choice.

NTFS vs exFAT

NTFS is ideal for internal drives, while exFAT is generally ideal for flash drives. Both of them have no realistic file-size or partition-size limits. If storage devices are not compatible with NTFS file system and you don't want to limited by FAT32, you can choose exFAT file system.

FAT32 vs exFAT

Both of them are suitable for removable devices due to their compatibility. FAT32 is compatible with more very old operating systems. However, FAT32 has limits on single file size and partition size, while exFAT does not. Compared with FAT32, exFAT is an optimized FAT32 file system that can be widely used for removable devices of large capacity.

After comparing NTFS vs FAT32 vs exFAT, you can choose a suitable file system for your drive according to your needs.

Free Format Your Drive to NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT

If you want to switch a partition’s file system to exFAT, you need to format the partition, which is different from FAT and NTFS conversion. Here you can use MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition to format your storage device to NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT file system in one step. Let’s look at the detailed steps together.

Step 1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition by clicking the following button. Install and launch it to get its main interface.

Step 2. Right-click the drive you want to format and select Format Partition.

Step 3. At this window, you are allowed to specify partition label, file system as well as cluster size. You can format the drive’s file system to FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, Ext2, Ext3, satisfying all your needs. After resetting these parameters, you can click OK.

Step 4. Click Apply on the upper right corner to allow the pending operation.

Verdict

You see, it is not so hard to learn the differences between NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT file system. And each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. If you don't know which file system you should format for your storage device, you may refer to above information in this article.

If you have any question about how to make FAT32 and NTFS conversion or how to format partition to NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT with MiniTool Partition Wizard, you can leave a message in the following comment zone and we will reply as soon as possible. If you need any help when using MiniTool software, you can contact us via [email protected].

NTFS vs. FAT32 vs. exFAT FAQ

???? What is the difference between NTFS fat32 and exFAT?
NTFS is the ideal file system for internal drives, and Windows OS can only be installed on a NTFS partition. FAT32 is an older file system used for USB flash drives and other external drives due to its great compatibility. exFAT is a replacement for FAT32, which is not as compatible as FAT32 but without the limitations of FAT32.
NTFS is ideal for internal drives, while exFAT is generally ideal for flash drives and external drives. FAT32 has much better compatibility compared with NTFS, but it only supports individual files up to 4GB in size and partitions up to 2TB. While NTFS is more advanced file system and it don't have file or partition limits.
???? Can I convert exFAT to NTFS without losing data?

Fat32 Vs Ntfs Flash Drive

You are unable to directly convert exFAT to NTFS without losing data, as there is not such utility that can help you perform the exFAT to NTFS conversion. You can only transfer files on the exFAT partition to another drive and then format the exFAT partition to NTFS with MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.
???? How can I convert NTFS to fat32 without losing data?

Fat32 Vs Ntfs

  1. Download MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro Edition on its official website and install it on your PC.
  2. Choose the NTFS partition that you need to convert.
  3. Select Convert NTFS to FAT feature from the left action panel.
  4. Click Start button to convert NTFS to fat32 without losing data immediately.
  5. Click Close to exit after the NTFS to fat32 conversion is completed.