I am long time windows user with who just started using Mac. All my external drives(1 & 2tb 2.5 portable drive ) are formatted in NTFS. But I found that my mac cannot read or write on that. So, where are my questions:

  1. How can I make my mac read/write the files in an NTFS partition?
  2. I have a new 1tb 2.5 drive that I bought to use as time machine. What is the best format for that?

FYI: I am using a 10.10.3 Macbook Pro Retina 13" Late 2013

  • 1
    A Mac can read NTFS, but can't write. Time Machine will format the drive as needed when setting it up, so no prior work is needed on your end.
    – smoooosher
    May 21, 2015 at 20:43
  • @smoooosher, OS X has had NTFS Read/Write capabilities for some time now however the write ability is turned off by default. That said I'd opt for a third-party NTFS Write solution to the built-in. May 21, 2015 at 20:50
  • @qbektrix, Time Machine will not write to an NTFS Volume even if write support is enabled. The drive has to be formatted HFS+. May 21, 2015 at 20:50

3 Answers 3


You want to use NTFS for Mac. I had to use this a few months ago to access an external drive (from a Windows user) that I had to work with.

For the hard drive that will be used for your Time Machine, that needs to be Mac OS Extended (Journaled).


Just want to provide some information before giving my recommendation -

Windows and Mac OS use different file systems (NTFS / HFS+) to store files. Therefore, Windows does not support HFS and Mac only partially supports NTFS (can only read, but not write). Therefore, having the drives formatted with NTFS is probably the way to go here, as you at least gain read support from Mac OS by default. There is no official reason as to why this is the case, but the common assumption is that Mac OS doesn't support NTFS because it's not open sourced, so Apple can't officially implement it without licensing the technology.

So to the question - what can you do? You can use third party software to install a driver that enables writing to NTFS external drives. There are a few of them:

  1. Mirvago NTFS Mac Mounter
  2. Paragon NTFS
  3. Tuxera NTFS (I'm a new user so can't post more than 2 links - google it if you choose it)

All three are used by large enterprise companies and also for personal use, so you can be safe to assume they are great products.

There are also some free ones such as Mounty, but I wouldn't recommend them as they rely on the default hidden feature of Mac OS that allows to write NTFS, but this feature is in beta mode, which can cause corruptions and data loss.


You'll need to have ntfs-3g driver and FUSE for macOS which extends the file handling capabilities of the OS. Both these things are open source.

I am not explaining the downloading and installation instructions here because the link below has explained each and everything on how to make NTFS drive work with macOS. This worked successfully on my macOS Sierra.


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