I recently purchased a MacBook Air. I have an external 3TB Hard Drive that I would like to use, however, I have used this drive to backup files from my desktop (Windows) computer and the drive is setup with NTFS format, thus I can read files from the hard drive but I cannot write files to the hard drive.

I read that I could install NTFS drivers in Mac OSX allowing me to write to the hard drive.

  1. Is this true?
  2. Are there reasons I should not do this?
  3. If there is no drawbacks to not doing this what are the best drivers to install and where do I find them?

I ask this because being new to Mac and OSX I want to ensure I do not want to risk messing up my hard drive.


Yes, you can install software that lets you read/write to NTFS partitions. There is both free and paid software, and I recommend installing ntfs-3g with Homebrew.

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/go/install)"
brew install fuse4x && brew install ntfs-3g
sudo mv /sbin/mount_ntfs /sbin/mount_ntfs.orig
sudo ln -s /usr/local/sbin/mount_ntfs /sbin/mount_ntfs

Run brew info fuse4x-kext and you should be given two lines based on your version that you need to run. Run these lines in Terminal, then eject and remount the disk.

| improve this answer | |
  • Homebrew... I have seen that mentioned quite a bit here on Ask Different... hmm... thanks for the tip ;-) – chillin May 11 '14 at 19:40

Enable ntfs write support in Mavericks

You can enable write support for ntfs in Mavericks.

I have linked to instructions on how to do this, but the gist of it is to edit the /etc/fstab file and add a line for each ntfs drive you want to write to:

 LABEL=device-name  none    ntfs    rw,auto,nobrowse

changing "device-name" to the name of your ntfs drive.

This is a per device hack.

Third party software

Alternatively, there is a lot of third party software to give you full ntfs support, such as Paragon NTFS, or the open source NTFS-3G for FUSE which is utilized in the closed source Tuxera NTFS, or an old standard from Thursby Software, DAVE


NTFS-3G and OSXFUSE are available for a free, package managed source or binary installation using the missing package manager for OS X, MacPorts, which is mature, stable and fully supported, unlike alternative package management solutions for OS X. It is based off of FreeBSD's ports system, which is based off the finest package management system known to exist, of course I mean, NetBSD's pkgsrc. It won't let you down!

Installing MacPorts, NTFS-3G and OSXFUSE is simple enough once xcode (for Mavericks 10.9 xcode_5.1.1.dmg) is installed. Install xcode, and then enter these commands in Terminal.app :

 curl -Ok https://distfiles.macports.org/MacPorts/MacPorts-2.2.1.tar.bz2
 tar xf MacPorts-2.2.1.tar.bz2
 cd MacPorts-2.2.1
 sudo make install #not war!
 cd ..
 rm -rf Macports-*
 sudo /opt/local/bin/port -v selfupdate
 export PATH=$HOME/macports/bin:$HOME/macports/sbin:$PATH
 export MANPATH=$HOME/macports/share/man:$MANPATH
 sudo port -vsc install ntfs-3g     # osxfuse is a dependency, macports will install it for you when you instsall ntfs-3g
 diskutil quiet repairPermissions /

MacPorts is worth getting to know as it is a mature package manager for OS X that maintains thousands of open source software commands, utilities, and applications. It will not interfere with any other package system you happen to use, and it is very easy to completely remove, if necessary.

If for whatever reason you need to remove MacPorts...

to completely uninstall MacPorts

 sudo port -dfp uninstall --follow-dependencies installed

 sudo port -dfp uninstall all

 sudo rm -rf /opt/local  

 sudo rm -rf /Library/Tcl/macports*

Really, its good stuff.

| improve this answer | |
  • "using the missing package manager" Are you trying to start a Homebrew vs MacPorts? ;) – grg May 11 '14 at 19:56
  • I hear the bell... I come out swingin'... its instinct. ;-) – chillin May 11 '14 at 19:58
  • that is not the complete removal of macports see the Macports guide for the complete rm command needed – mmmmmm May 11 '14 at 20:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .