Writing to an NTFS formatted drive from a Mac computer straight out the box is a problem. This is because Macs can only read NTFS drives, and cannot write to them.
You could just stick with the exFat and FAT32 drives solution. But you may find that this is not necessarily that practical, especially if you have a partition with Windows on your Mac, or if you are primarily based around a Windows ecosystem.
There are a few different options you can explore which range from paid to free. But in this particular case I recommend going with a paid option. The two prominent paid software drivers are by Paragon and Tuxera.
Although there is some great free software out there, in this case I do believe it is better to go with a paid option, especially for those who don’t want the technical hassle. Also, some of the current free software you might come across is not necessarily to a satisfactory standard with reliability or security. So make sure you know what you are doing, with those options.
Interestingly, largely hidden, but built into Mac OS is an experimental NTFS-Write Support feature. Although it is off by default it can be enabled via the Mac terminal. However don’t get your hopes up about this. This feature is not recommended. There is no guarantee it will work properly, and could cause problems with your NTFS file system. It has also been known to corrupt data.
This is not a route I would recommend for this purpose, but if you are willing and able to go technical and spend a lot of money, you can also go down the NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server route. By this I mean you would have a dedicated personal NAS in your home or office, and would have to transfer files across your internal network, either via WIFI or ethernet cable (depending on your set up). The server would have to be one which has been configured to work with both Mac and Windows. For a beginner something like a WD My Cloud Home is an option. A more advanced route would be a WD My Cloud Pro, or a Synology DiskStation. However, it is wise to note that transfer speeds will depend on your setup, and that this is a permanent storage option, not just a midway transfer point.
Paragon NTFS for Mac
I bought Paragon NTFS for Mac version 15 around two years ago for my MacBook Pro (15 inch, Mid 2015). At the time I was relatively new to Mac, and was primarily based around a Windows ecosystem. I had NTFS drives, either my own or shared which I needed to frequently interface with, not to mention Windows computers I needed to work between.
After making the decision to go for an NTFS driver for Mac, and then doing my research, I decided to go with Paragon NTFS for Mac. At the time, Paragon Software seemed to have more affordable pricing when compared to their counterpart, Tuxera.
Current price (2019) of Paragon Software’s NTFS for Mac: USD $19.95 | GBP £15.95
Current price (2019) of Tuxera NTFS for Mac: USD $25.00 | GBP £18.44
- When you purchase Paragon NTFS for Mac, you are not just buying a driver. You are also purchasing a light volume management utility. But don’t let this put you off, because it is actually very handy. (Read on further down
- If you own a Seagate drive, you can get a free download of Paragon NTFS for Mac.
- You can try Paragon NTFS for Mac before purchasing for ten days completely free on a trial period.
My experience with Paragon NTFS for Mac over two years
Installing the software was easy. It was a simple install which did not involve any messing around with the terminal. It really was a straightforward hassle free experience, which does not require you to get technical.
So far, I have only made one purchase for this software, and over the past two years, they have continued to support the software with incremental updates, keeping it up to date with the latest Mac OS.
Please note: When they do a “major update”, they are most likely going to charge you for the next major version (whenever that may be).
I have completed many data transfers without fail from my Mac to NTFS drives, and I have experienced no limitations so far. I have transferred multiple files at a time with a variety of sizes, ranging from kilobytes to gigabytes, and have regularly transferred large files at approximately 8 gigabytes individually. The largest single file transfer I have done with NTFS for Mac was somewhere between 200GB – 300GB, with no problems whatsoever.
No matter what file type I have had to move, whether it be video, audio, image or document, I have had no issues occur that are related to NTFS for Mac.
With transfer speeds over a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection, I have not noticed any slow downs relating to NTFS for Mac. Any slow transfer rates have been due to the write speed of an HDD for example.
Volume management utility
Apart from purchasing a driver the software also includes a basic volume management utility. The application is similar to Disk Utility, as it allows you to:
- See your mounted volumes and unmount them.
- View basic volume information including, used and free space, file system (what it is formatted to) and file path.
- Format and verify a volume.
- Rename a volume.
However before you decide this is bloatware, there are also some more advanced options you can select on a mounted volume, which include:
- Save last access time
- Enable Spotlight indexing
- Mount in Read-only mode
- Do not mount automatically
Plus there’s something else. For those who aren’t aware, you cannot format to NTFS on a Mac, but through the Paragon app you can. If you select “Erase” (which is named the same as in Disk Utility), you will have an extra option to format to NTFS which is not available through Disk Utility.
The application is also compatible with Bootcamp. This means that if you have a mounted volume with Windows installed, you can reboot your computer from the menu bar. Personally I’ve never done this, but I can imagine this would be useful for those who do.
These more advanced features are really for more specialist reasons, and most people are not going to be using these, with the exception of Spotlight indexing.
NTFS for Mac Menu bar
The software also includes a menu bar addition. This basically gives you the basic functionality of the application by allowing you to easily mount and unmount and see volume storage information.
Some may think this is a waste, but over two years, I have found the menu bar feature to have actually been very useful as it saved time, simply because I could see volume storage information with a single click from anywhere on the computer.
However, if you do not want this, then in the app preferences you can disable the menu bar icon.
Preferences (App options)
The application also comes with two themes which reflect Mac OS’s light and dark modes. Thanks to this, the app can reflect the system appearance settings, or you can specifically choose.
Automatic updates are supported which you can enable and disable in the preferences. If you are more privacy-centric, then you will be pleased to hear that you can also turn the collection of analytical data off.
You can turn off the few notifications the app will give you, which are for successful and unsuccessful mounts. Personally though, those notifications are handy.
Even though most won’t want these options enabled, you can also disable the app from launching on startup, and disable NTFS for Mac without uninstalling.
How to Uninstall Paragon NTFS for Mac
DO NOT DRAG THE APPLICATION TO THE TRASH! In the preferences, there is a greyed out button which says “Uninstall”. It is greyed out, as it is locked for safety. To unlock, click the padlock in the bottom left of the window and type in your computer password. Then select uninstall.
Paragon NTFS for Mac is a very handy feature. The driver performs well and serves its purpose. When it comes to the software’s longevity, Paragon Software have consistently kept NTFS for Mac updated with incremental updates for the latest Mac OS, so I have gotten my money’s worth. However, as to when they are going to do the next major upgrade is the question, as it has been a while, so take this into consideration if you decide to purchase. This has definitely been a good cross-platform utility, as I have found it has enabled me to more easily work between Windows and Mac machines.
In regards to the volume management side of this app, it has been a worthwhile utility. Although it reflects Mac’s Disk Utility, to be honest, this tool is a convenience feature. It is basically a quick access hub that is dedicated to volume management. Even if you are not dual booting with Windows, it is still very useful. It allows you to quickly view all your mounted drives, their storage information and unmount them all from the menu bar, which for me has been a time saver and convenience. In a way if you are ever dealing with drives, be it minimal or a lot, this feature improves the Mac experience with external drives. Plus, I have never found the software to be heavy and cause slow downs with my computer. When I use the feature, it always appears to open and work fast.
I know there are free options available you can consider, but personally, when it comes to file transfers you want stability, as you don’t want to lose data you are clearly not trying to delete. So why bother transferring your files with risky options when there is an option which actually works and doesn’t cost a fortune.