Why doesn’t Mac OS X natively support writing to NTFS drives?

If you are working with a mac computer and tried to connect a USB key / external hard drive which is formated with NTFS file system, you probably noticed that you can only list and read the files on that drive, but not write / edit / add files.

So no, it’s not a bug, and there is nothing you missed. Actually, Mac OS doesn’t natively support the NTFS file system, and there are good reasons for that. It only supports reading files out of the box, but not writing.

There is no official reason to why this is the case, but there are several reasonable speculations:

  1. NTFS is a proprietary file system created by Microsoft, which is no open sourced. Therefore, anyone who wants to implement reading / writing to this file system, will actually guess the structure (or probably reverse engineer it), which is never a good path to go when you want to make sure that the Mac computers do not destroy the data on the hard drives because they made the wrong assumptions.
  2. Officially supporting NTFS on Mac computers will probably require Apple to get permission from Microsoft, which will probably force Apple to cut a deal with Microsoft and pay them a fee for every license. Well, I think you can understand why Apple will not want to cut such a deal.
  3. Apple, or any other vendor for that matter, won’t be able to support a format they don’t have full rights for. If they’ll implement NTFS on mac computers and something will go sideways with customer’s data (data loss, disk corruptions, etc.), Apple will be open to multiple large lawsuits. So therefore, they just avoid all of that by not supporting NTFS by default on their operating system (Mac OS X).

So what can you do if you want to enable NTFS support and mount those USB / external drives on Mac OS and write to them anyway?

Please consider our award winning premium NTFS mounter. It will allow you to write to any USB drive / external hard drive, even if it’s formatted by Windows with NTFS file system.

We hope you’ll like it the same way we do 🙂

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