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Fix "Unable to Write to USB Drive on Mac" Successfully

Roxanne

Nov 12, 2021 to NTFS for Mac

0 Views 0 min read

Often, Mac users face an issue where the external drives like USB or hard drives show "read-only" when plugged in. It can be pretty infuriating when doing critical work or sharing data or files using that USB drive. There are numerous ways by which we can fix this issue pretty quickly. But first, we have to address why this problem happens in the first place. 

Unable To Write To Usb Drive On Mac, Why?
How Do I Fix the "Unable Write to USB Drive" Error On Mac? (4 Ways)

Unable To Write To Usb Drive On Mac, Why?

There are quite a few reasons why this problem happens. Here we've mentioned the significant issues that are frequent causes of this particular issue. 

1. Permission issue 

External drives require permissions to perform read and write operations. To check the permissions, right-click on the USB drive icon and then select the option Get Info. At the bottom of that window, look for the Sharing & Permissions option in the info menu. Click on that; if the permission is Read-only, it is the prevalent reason for this issue. 

2. USB Switch is on the lock side

Mac devices have a long-running history of having trouble with USB ports. Sometimes there are genuine reasons why MacBook has disabled its USB accessories, and it may have happened because of a faulty USB drive or a cable used recently. Along with that, check the power, port, and cable connections. Ensure the USB device is on. In case the MacBook has more than one port, switch the device to the other port. 

3. USB contains an internal error

Sometimes our USB device itself contains an internal error that results in a "read-only" status. It may also be the reason why Mac isn't detecting the USB drive correctly. Make sure that the external device isn't at fault by connecting it to other systems. 

4. USB is in NTFS format

It is known that the macOS does not support write permissions for the NTFS file system. So any NTFS Drive will face this issue. But there is a solution. MacBook can write data using additional commands that will enable the NTFS driver available in macOS.   

How Do I Fix the "Unable Write to USB Drive" Error On Mac?

As mentioned above, finding a solution is very easy if we know the root of the leading cause. There are multiple reasons because of which this problem can arise. Mostly all of them have some solution to make it work.

Most of the time, when the issue occurs, it will not be serious. One can fix it by reconnecting the USB device or changing the USB port. If not, then switch the USB lock to offside. However, in some cases, the cause of the issue isn't straightforward and requires a lot of attention. 

Here are the solutions that can help to Enable USB writable on Mac OS. 

1. Ignore Permission On USB
2. Repair USB Driver With First Aid
3. Add Write Support To NTFS USB
4. Format USB Drive

1. Ignore Permission On USB

change ownership of usb drive

A USB device connected to the MacBook needs owner permission to perform write operations. If the user trying to make changes is not an admin account, the admin will need to assign the user account to the USB drive for the Read and Write privileges. 

An admin account, however, has the option to ignore the ownership of all the files. If this option is enabled, the Mac OS treats all the data files in the same manner as they currently belong to the current user. It doesn't matter who is the actual owner. Here are the simple steps to perform this action. 

  • Choose the disk, and then select File. Right-click on that and click on Get Info. 
  • Find an option named Sharing & Permissions. To expand this section, click on the arrow next to it. 
  • Sometimes there is a lock at the bottom left of it. If that is locked, click on unlock the preference pane. 
  • Select the option to "ignore ownership on this volume." 

2. Repair USB Driver with First Aid

first aid utility

If the USB drive is faulty and needs repairing, then Disk Utility First Aid should be the priority to fix it. It is a safe way to verify and repair some minor issues and errors on an external disk without the risk of data loss. Here are the simple steps to restore a corrupted USB drive with First Aid. 

  • On the Mac, open Finder, click on Go present at the top right of the screen.
  • Select Utilities, and then find Disk Utility to launch. 
  • On the left sidebar of the disk utility,  find and choose the corrupted USB Drive. 
  • Finally, click on First Aid and click Run to start repairing the device. 

3. Add Write Support To NTFS USB

There are various ways to enable NTFS-write support on MacBook, like free software, paid software, or the option to enable NTFS to write permission natively. As we know, Apple still hasn't allowed write support for NTFS. As of now, it can only perform the read action. 

However, the option to enable NTFS support by the native method is very hefty and requires a lot of commands and heavy steps. That's why various third-party apps provide this service. One such app is EaseUS NTFS for Mac. It is available for free to download and makes it easy to enable NTFS support by following simple steps. 

Features:

  • Fast copy and write operations
  • Supports any external device including SSD, USB Thunderbolt drive
  • Mount & Unmount NTFS Drives From Mac Status Bar
  • Compatible with M1-based Mac devices.
  • Works on macOS Big Sur and older macOS

Step 1. Launch and activate EaseUS NTFS for Mac. Click "I already have a license" to unlock this software.

Activate EaseUS NTFS for Mac

Step 2. Connect an NTFS drive to Mac, EaseUS NTFS for Mac will automatically detect the device. Select your drive and you'll see it's now marked as 'Read-only". Click "Enable Writable" to add read and write rights to the drive.

enable writable write to NTFS drive

Step 3. When the state of NTFS drives turns into "Writable", click "Open". NTFS for Mac will open the NTFS drive on Mac.

Make changes to saved files on NTFS drive

Step 4. Now, you can check, read, write, and even modify saved data on the NTFS device.

Read,write, open, and modify files on NTFS drives

4. Format USB Drive

format usb drive

If nothing works out even after performing all the above methods discussed, the only option is to Format the USB device completely. Here are the steps to format a USB drive on Mac. 

  • First, insert the USB device, open Finder, and Type Disk Utility. Then click to launch it.
  • Choose the required USB drive. 
  • Select the option to Erase that is present on the top.
  • Type the name for the drive, select Format type.
  • Click on Erase, and it will format the USB device. Press Done to complete the process. 

Post this, any user can read and write on the USB drive.

Conclusion 

In this article, we've discussed the significant reasons why the "Read Only" issue happens. While it occurs randomly at times and a temporary fix should help resolve it, if you are new to it, the post helps to follow the right solution.  Right from permission to driver to using any software; all of them ensure that read-write operations work on NTFS.