My MacBook Pro was filled up by old iPhone backups. I need to clear them up before I can use it to do backup for the 4th phone of my family. I found I had a 2 TB external SSD and tried to copy things on it but failed. The system said the SSD was read-only. Disk utilities said the 2 TB SSD was formatted in NTFS format. Was that the reason that my MacBook Pro refuses to copy things onto it? Do I need to reformat that into Mac format, but was there a 3rd solution that I can share the SSD among my computers?

  • That is a job for multiple partitions. All my USB sticks have a small partition that is FAT32. Nov 23, 2021 at 23:52
  • 2
    If you want to spend a little bit of money to solve this, Paragon has a NTFS driver for MacOS: paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac Nov 24, 2021 at 10:07
  • 1
    Careful. There's not a lot of options if you want to have your mac write to a disk that other operating systems can read (there's no overlap in compatibility between Linux or Windows except exFAT). If practical you may be better off using SFTP (set up a server on one of your other PCs, or a spare PC sitting around), or cloud file storage (Google Drive, Github/Gitlab etc.). I personally would not trust third party filesystem drivers for critical data.
    – jrh
    Nov 24, 2021 at 15:12
  • If I had the ability, I wish to build a distributed system among my home, my sister-in-law's home and my mother's home. I wish to build a compact system like the top box of cable TV systems. When I was still young, my mother refused my proposal for afraid of “burning down her home”. Nov 25, 2021 at 3:16
  • I just found the Paragon NTFS driver is in fact an affordable solution, as compared to the price of the portable hard drive. I will try to clear up my computer before trying. Thanks a lot! Dec 23, 2021 at 9:44

2 Answers 2


macOS is able to read NTFS by default, but it doesn't come with write support. There are third-party solutions for that, like NTFS-3G (there are multiple questions dealing with this product here on Apple.SE).

If you are using this SSD only on your Mac, using NTFS would be a poor solution (performance, feature support). Instead, just reformat the SSD with APFS.

For pure data transfer, another option would be to format the disk with exFAT which has read and write support natively on both Windows and macOS. This filesystem is lacking features you would expect on a modern system, but if all you want is transfer images, videos, ZIPs, and the like, it is sufficient.

  • 6
    To add, note that one of the main practical limitations of FAT32 is the maximum file size of 4GB. This can become a serious problem when you want to use the drive for transferring large video files.
    – Emil
    Nov 23, 2021 at 16:50
  • 8
    FAT32 is an outdated suggestion at this point. exFAT has all the benefits of FAT32, with none of its drawbacks. The only downside to exFAT is that not all older devices like game consoles support it, but if you're talking Mac and PC cross use it's the best.
    – Logarr
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:11
  • 3
    @Logarr: Thanks, you're right. I've updated the answer. The comment from Emil has the main point why exFAT is better than FAT32 (no 4GB limit).
    – DarkDust
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:28

You could try shrinking the partition containing NTFS volume and create a new FAT32 writable volume in the free space. To do this, you would need either a computer with Windows installed or your existing Mac. Do to this with your existing Mac, you would have to use the Boot Camp Assistant to make a bootable Windows 10 USB flash drive installer. Instead of installing Windows, you would boot from this installer, open a Command Prompt window and use the diskpart command to shrink the NTFS volume and create the new writable volume. If you want the new volume to be ExFAT or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format, then you would have to erase the new FAT32 volume from macOS using either diskutil or the Disk Utility.

  • 3
    Just FYI, FAT32 has some very harsh limitations, max file size: 4 GB. I'd only use FAT32 for interfacing with older devices these days.
    – jrh
    Nov 24, 2021 at 15:19

You must log in to answer this question.

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