NTFS write-support on macOS

Page content

If you need a filesystem with support for files > 4GB on all major platforms, NTFS may be your best option. Here is how to get write support on macOS.

Portable filesystems

There are only a few “portable” filesystems, that offer read and write support on all major platforms:

FilesystemFilesize limitCompressionNotes
Fat(32)4 GBnoWorks nearly everywhere
exFatno limitnorecommended for smaller drive and file sizes
NTFS16 TBnoproprietary, but (kind of) works on all systems (reverse engineered)

I personally had good experiences with NTFS on every OS - especially when you have to store large files > 4 GB.

Quick and dirty

Most people don’t know that there is integrated write support for NTFS in macOS, but it is experimental and not enabled by default. If you just need write support for a single drive RIGHT NOW or if you don’t use it very often, there is a little trick to achieve that quickly:

Note: This trick is highly experimental, and although I did never have problems with this, I would NOT use it without having a backup of your data.

TLDR;

Add the following line to your /etc/fstab (root permissions, create file if not exists):

LABEL=<YOUR_DISK_LABEL>     none    ntfs    rw,auto,nobrowse


Details

• Find out the label or you NTFS drive, e.g., with diskutil list - let’s assume it is /dev/disk3 with label Ventoy
• Edit the file /etc/fstab as root with your favourite editor (e.g., sudo vi /etc/fstab)
• Add a line for your drive label, e.g. LABEL=Ventoy none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse
• Unmount and remove your drive diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk3
• Plug it in again, nothing will happen - this is intended, the drive does no longer show up in Finder
• Goto directory /Volumes
• You should now see a directory with your drive label, that is writable
• To temporarily undo your changes but keep it as option, just put a # in the fstab, e.g. LABEL=Ventoy none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse

The restriction of not being auto-mounted and having to navigate manually is very annoying, but in some situations it might be helpful.

Commercial products

The most reliable way is to use a commercial product. There are two, that I am aware of:

The advantage is, that these integrate flawlessly into macOS - everything works out of the box. But be aware that they also hook deep into your system to provide support this good.

Virtual Machine

Another way is to just use a Virtual Machine (e.g., with Virtual Box) with either Windows or a state-of-the-art Linux distribution. This way you would be able to copy your files using shared folders, sftp or other sharing technologies.