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How to use NTFS drives on Mac for free

An easy solution to an annoying problem.

Alex Choros
Oct 14, 2022
Icon Time To Read1 min read

Out of the box, Mac and Macbook support for NTFS-formatted external drives is pretty limited. You can access the content on them, but you can't modify it or add anything new. This can be especially challenging if you work in an environment with both Macs and Windows-based machines.

There are a whole host of paid tools that enable full NTFS support on your Mac or Macbook, but you don't actually need to buy any of these programs. Paragon NTFS for Mac is one of the most popular options, and it will set you back about $35, depending on the exchange rate at the time. There's even a 10-day free trial.

MacBook Air with M2

Paragon also makes a free version of its software for hard drive manufacturers like Seagate. Even if you don't have a Seagate drive, you can still download the free version of Paragon NTFS for Mac through the manufacturer's website. From our testing, it doesn't seem to have any trade-offs compared to the paid version. You can read and write files on any NTFS drive you've got.

Paragon NTFS for Mac works on both Intel-powered and Apple Silicon (M1 and M2) Macs. If you're installing it on an M1 or M2 Mac, you'll need to change your security settings to install the software.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Press and hold the power button until you see “Loading startup options”
  3. Click Options
  4. Click Continue
  5. If asked, select a user then click Next and enter the password for your admin account
  6. In the menu bar at the top, select Utilities, then Startup Security Utility
  7. Select the startup disk
  8. If the disk is encrypted, click Unlock and then enter your password
  9. Click Security Policy
  10. Select Reduced Security
  11. Tick “Allow user management of kernel extensions from identified developers”
  12. Click OK
  13. Enter the admin password and click OK
  14. Click the Apple icon and restart your Mac

You'll then be able to install Paragon NTFS for Mac.

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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