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Ability to write to NTFS volumes on the Mac

MacFuse

Thanks for visiting this – well, sort of – ancient page. As the rules of the game of enabling writing on NTFS on the Mac has dramatically changed over the past years, I published a new article titled How to both WRITE to and read from PC [NTFS] Drives on macOS which you might rather read here. If knowing how people used to write to NTFS volumes on the Mac more than 10 years ago is still interesting to you, then feel free to read on.

You can add the possibility to write / modify NTFS files on Mac OS X now thanks to MacFUSE from Google Code and NTFS-3G from Erik Larsson. MacFUSE allows you to extend Mac OS X’s native file handling capabilities via 3rd-party file systems. As a normal user, installing the MacFUSE software package will let you use any 3rd-party file system written on top of  MacFUSE, such as NTFS-3G from Erik Larsson which will allow you to not only read NTFS volumes, but also give you the ability to write (finally) to NTFS volumes. In order to have the functionality MacFUSE and NTFS-3G must respectively be installed on your Mac (and the system be rebooted after respective installation). MacFUSE can be downloaded from the following address: https://code.google.com/p/macfuse/ or the cross-platform utilities section of OzarWEB downloads.

After installing MacFUSE – a very straight-forward process – and restarting your machine, you need to download and install NTFS 3G for the Mac from Erik’s NTFS-3G for the Mac Blog. And then, remember to reboot one more time if you wish to avoid any unpleasant issues later on. As of this writing the stable releases were MacFUSE version 2.0.2 and NTFS-3G version 1.5130 and these versions had been uploaded to the OzarWEB Downloads Library as a mirror.

Known issues after this installation:

  • Your bootcamp partition (if NTFS) will no longer appear on System Preferences > Startup Disk. Workarounds:
    • Press “alt” (option) key while rebooting your Mac and select your PC partition before startup.
    • Intel users only: Install the rEFIt boot manager for better control of the boot process.
    • Using the command line utility bless (see “man bless” for more information)
  • Files with filenames created in Windows containing international characters with accents, umlauts and similar dots and lines, or filenames with korean characters might seem unreadable in the Finder. This is because Finder apparently expects all filenames to appear in unicode decomposed form, while NTFS allows both composed and decomposed form filenames. This issue is hard to solve in a pretty way, but you should still be able to access these files when using the Terminal. Copying the affected files to a HFS+ drive using the command “cp” works fine.

Uninstalling NTFS 3G for the Mac

Since Apple hasn’t come up with an easy way to remove installed packages, there is a shell script that removes all NTFS-3G files from the system. It is located on the disk image that you downloaded to install NTFS-3G, and is called “Uninstall NTFS-3G.command”, and a user should only need to double click to launch the script. The user will need to be an administrator with sudo rights, and will be required to type its password in order to authorize the script to remove NTFS-3G from the system directories.

Uninstalling MacFUSE

Run the uninstall-macfuse-core.sh script that resides in the Support subdirectory of the MacFUSE file system bundle. The bundle itself resides in /System/Library/Filesystems/ on Mac OS X 10.4.x and in /Library/Filesystems/ on Mac OS X 10.5.x. For example, to uninstall MacFUSE on Mac OS X 10.4.x, you would run the following command in the Terminal:

sudo /System/Library/Filesystems/fusefs.fs/Support/uninstall-macfuse-core.sh

To uninstall MacFUSE on Mac OS X 10.5.x and above, you would run:

sudo /Library/Filesystems/fusefs.fs/Support/uninstall-macfuse-core.sh

If the file system bundle in your MacFUSE installation doesn’t have a Support subdirectory, that means you have an incredibly ancient version of MacFUSE. In that case, look for the uninstall script within the fusefs.fs/ directory itself.

14 Comments

  1. Hi, I heard of a commercial product which manages better the boot process and doesn’t cause the bootcamp partition to disappear after installing NTFS-3G.

    Reply

  2. http://www.paragon-software.com/home/ntfs-mac/

    They have a 10-day free trial edition. Full version comes with MacBrowser which is some sort of a replacement for MacDrive.
    The best thing is your BOOTCAMP partition will continue showing up on the Startup Disk pane of System Preferences.

    With NTFS 3G, it disappears! and the only way to boot from the Bootcamp/Windows partitionin that case is that you would have to press the alt (option) key while rebooting the Mac.

    Reply

  3. Does that mean that when I get Paragon NTFS, part of the software is actually installed on Windows on the Bootcamp partition which enables read/write the Mac (HFS+) disk?

    Reply

    • The answer to your question should have been ‘yes’ under normal circumstances. However, in my tests with the Paragon NTFS 7.0, installing Paragon’s “MacBrowser” software (bundled with the P. NTFS package) on Bootcamp partition messed up the Mac file system and did not work as expected – i.e. the Mac (HFS+) volume appeared blank (empty) in an attempt to browse it from Windows (I was using XP during the tests) and later I suspected that it could twist the file permissions if not corrupt the entire Mac partition. So I uninstalled and switched back to MacFUSE & NTFS 3G.

      Reply

  4. after installing mac fuse and ntfs 3g, I can no longer succeed booting from the ntfs partition.

    it doesn’t show up in startup disk control panel.

    Reply

    • hello jake,

      please refer to the section “Known issues after this installation” where a couple of workarounds are also suggested.

      Reply

  5. The bootcamp partition disappears from the startup disk control panel after installing MacFUSE + NTFS 3G – but was also the case with a recent version of Paragon NTFS as well. Paragon offers the Windows partition booting option on its own control panel which shows at the bottom of System Prefs though.

    Why on Earth, Apple doesn’t make NTFS read/write a built-in option on the Mac OSX ?

    Reply

  6. Using “NTFS For Mac”, and it does not enable OS X’s Startup Disk pane to see the Windows partition. From what I understand, the Startup Disk pane is programmed to ignore any partition that isn’t natively mounted by and OS X driver. What we need is a hack for Startup Disk pane to get it to ignore the fact that a partition is not mounted by the OS X driver.

    Reply

  7. Hey isntalled ntfs 3G and mac fuse now i dont see my external drive any more and my .dmg wont mount also with my external because i deleted sum mountable files accidentally when i was trying to uninstall NTFS 3G…PLESE HELP!!!! NOW i cant access my external any more HELP!!!

    Reply

  8. CAN I SOME ONE JUST EMAIL THE filesytem default folder….WOULD THAT WORK AT LEAST TO MOUNT BACK MY DRIVES AND .DMG WHEN I DOWNLOAD THEM??? SOMEONE PLZ HELP URGENT I AM A DJ AND THIS IS REAL BAD 4 ME HELP!!!!

    Reply

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