You need a certain file system (FS) to access any storage device. FAT is the common choice on flash drives and memory sticks. However, FAT is a very old file system and it has very limited features. Particularly on external hard drives, you are better with some other type of file system. There are numerous number of file systems available. Linux and MAC have their own too.
To my opinion, NTFS is a good choice for external hard drives. They allow for large file size, you can assign permissions to the files, and the last but not least, NTFS is readable by Windows, Linux, and Mac machines. However, on MAC, NTFS drives are mounted as read only drives by default, i.e. you can not modify anything on them, just read. The good news is that the solution is easy.
First of all, you need MacFuse prior to be able to access NTFS file systems. How to check if you have MacFUSE? simply go to your “System Preferences” and look for MacFuse in “Other” section. If you can find it there, you already have MacFuse installed. If you do not have MacFuse, just go to Google, search it, download it, and run the installer.
This will give you access to NTFS drives; however, the access is still readonly. To mount NTFS drives manually with write permission, you can use “mount_ntfs” command prompt and pass the “-o rw”. This will give you the write permission on the NTFS drives.
If you want to have NTFS drives mounted automatically with write permission you need to do couple of more steps.
First open a terminal and change the current working path to /sbin by typing “cd /sbin”. This is the location where mount_ntfs is stored. Now you need to rename this file by typing:
sudo mv mount_ntfs mount_ntfs.orig
Instead of “mount_ntfs.orig” you can choose any other name that you like. Now, create a script named “mount_ntfs” in /sbin. Remember that the name for this script is not arbitrary. There are different ways of creating this script. As an example just type:
sudo vi mount_ntfs
This will give you an empty text files which you need to type the following lines:
/sbin/mount_ntfs.orig -o rw “$@”
Now you need to set the permissions on this script. in the terminal type:
sudo chown root:wheel mount_ntfs
sudo chmod 755 mount_ntfs
You are done. Now you can enjoy NTFS on MAC with full write and read permission. If you didn’t liked it, you can just copy back mount_ntfs.orig over mount_ntfs and everything would be as it was originally.
Remember that, in above procedure, it was assumed that you were in /sbin and you chose mount_ntfs.orig while moving the original mount_ntfs. All those files are there, and need to be there. Otherwise, it won’t work.