Write to NTFS Volumes From OS X Lion


Writing to NTFS volumes from OS X has become increasingly difficult, especially with Lion.  Beginning with snow leopard (OS X 10.6.8 is the version I have), writing to NTFS natively stopped working.  Luckily, there is a fairly easy workaround (good!) and it’s available at a price of zero (better!).  For details click here (FYI the url is http://blog.nolar.info/ntfs-3g-in-mac-os-x-lion-10-7-with-read-write-support/ ).

NTFS is the most recent of Windows disk formatting schemes.  Preceded by FAT-32, NTFS was designed to handle large volumes (> 1 tb) and be faster and more efficient.  As far as I can tell the speed and accuracy of NTFS is almost the same as the Mac’s HFS+ system.  Our friends at ArsTechnica have a succinct description of the various formatting options available for Mac disks.  (Note that the “MS-DOS” file system discussed here is FAT-32, not NTFS.)

  • “Mac OS Extended or HFS+ is an improved version of Apple’s Hierarchical File System from the mid-1980s.
  • Mac OS Extended (Case Sensitive) is the same file system, but in this case, it treats file names that are the same but have different case as different. So the file text.txt is different from the file Text.txt and both can exist side by side. This matches the behavior of UNIX.
  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is also HFS+, but it has an extra mechanism that avoids corruption of the file system when something bad happens, such as loss of power during a write operation.
  • Mac OS Extended (Case Sensitive, Journaled) is HFS+ with a combination of case sensitivity and journaling.
  • MS-DOS File System is the older FAT filesystem used with MS-DOS and Windows. Note that you can’t have files of 4GB or bigger on a FAT volume.
  • UNIX File System (UFS) is exactly what the name suggests. Don’t use it unless you know you need to.”

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Thanks to Sergey Nolar Vasilyev and his blog at http://blog.nolar.info/ for this valuable information.  I’ve tested his procedure under both snow leopard and lion.  On our two Macs, it works great.


About Tony Lima

Tony Lima has been working with technology, economic modeling, forecasting, and market research for 40 years. His background makes him uniquely qualified to navigate this varied landscape. Begin with his education: B.S. in chemical engineering from M.I.T. , M.B.A. from Harvard, Ph.D. in economics from Stanford. His day job was professor of economics at California State University, East Bay. He retired in 2016 to devote his time to consulting and writing. But he has found time to: write (eight books and over 100 articles ranging from wine economics to detailed analyses of meta-language code generators) consult with companies ranging from Microsoft to CEDEX keep his expertise up-to-date, constantly reading and sorting through the avalanche of information available daily maintain three blogs: Wine Research, Wine Economics, and Economic Policy Local policy analysis: Los Altos Politico.com

One Reply to “Write to NTFS Volumes From OS X Lion”

  1. Jennifer

    If you don’t see the hard drive in My Computer , it is Mac file system. To fix that, famrot it MS-DOS file system while it is connected to the Mac, and then it will appear in My Computer. If you want to use it for files larger than 4GB, in My Computer right-click the hard drive icon and choose Format . Don’t select quick famrot. Set it to NTFS.If you don’t have the Mac around anymore, connect the drive to the Windows system, go to Start > Programs > Administrative Tools > Computer Management. There you can apply a series of commands through the interface to delete the partition and create a new NTFS partition. Also, consider the option of converting the FAT32 volume to NTFS using convert.exe as described in the Microsoft article linked below. In that article, Microsft refer to both system partition and boot partition . These are the same thing and are equal to Apple’s term startup disk .You can avoid all this if you want to buy and install MacDrive in Windows to enable use of Mac file system drives. In addition, MacDrive does not work with multi-session CDs / DVDs as it comes from Mediafour, so to enable that, see the second link below.

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