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Quick Tip: How to Write to NTFS Drives in OS X Mavericks

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For years, the common wisdom went that Macs and PCs could never work well together. These days, however, both Microsoft and Apple have done significant work to ensure that they work great in co-operation with each other. With that in mind, there are still a few glaring issues that prevent working between the two from being as seamless as it could be. 

In this Quick Tip, I'll show you how to tackle one of those glaring issues by enabling writing to NTFS drives, in OS X, without any third party software.

Screencast

Working in Terminal

Writing to NTFS drives is a functionality that's been built into OS X for some time. For whatever reason, though, it's an option that Apple has chosen to hide from the sight of the average user. What this means for you is that in order to enable writing to an NTFS drive, you're going to need to dive into Terminal which is located within the Utilities folder.

Once in Terminal type: 

sudo nano /etc/fstab

The sudo command is telling Terminal that you'd like to be granted administrator access to the command line. That means you're going to need to enter the administrator password and press Enter

If you've never used Terminal before, it might come as a surprise that when entering a password, rather than showing what you're typing Terminal will show nothing at all.

When you're finished typing your password, you'll be brought to a program that looks like something out of the 80's. The program is called nano and it's the text editor that's built into Terminal. The file that you'll edit is called stab.  It's a system configuration file that's responsible for the drives and partitions connected to the Mac.

Within nano type:

LABEL=drivename none ntfs rw,auto,nobrowse

Make sure to replace drivename with the name of the drive. The drive's name should contain no spaces, as adding a space to the configuration file would tell your Mac to interpret whatever's after that space as a separate command.

Finally, press Control-O to save the file and Control-X to exit nano

Accessing Your Drive

With the hard work of editing system configuration files out of the way, navigate to Finder and unmount the drive. When the drive has been unmounted, unplug it from the Mac and then plug it back in. 

You'll notice that the drive no longer shows up in Finder's Devices menu or on the desktop. This is due to it's precarious existence as a hidden feature. Luckily, there's a pretty simple workaround for this. Within Finder's menubar, click Go and then Go to Folder. Type /volumes as the path and press Enter. 

Once inside OS X's hidden Volumes folder, you can drag your NTFS drive to the sidebar underneath the Favorites tab in the sidebar for easy access. You're now able to read and write to an NTFS drive!



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