Mac M1 can’t see files or folders to NTFS external drives, how to fix?

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Apple in November unveiled its newest Macs with its own processor inside, the Arm-based M1 chip.

The M1 chip inside the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini give the Macs more than three times of CPU performance and better battery life than the latest Intel-based processor.

These new Mac devices are slick and impressive, but some early adopters are running into a strange error. In Reddit, several users said they are having issues seeing files or folders when they connect their old NTFS external USB drive on an M1 Mac. It’s a fairly small thread as of writing time, but users are on Apple’s own support forums complaining about similar problems. It seems all of the new Macs with M1 chip seem to be affected.

write to NTFS drive M1 Mac

This article will talk about solutions to M1 Mac not showing files on NTFS external drives issue.

Why can’t M1 Macs see files or folders on NTFS external drives?

The most common reason would be the incompatibility issue between Mac and Windows. Typically, NTFS is a proprietary file system by Microsoft and only can be read on macOS. So, it should not be an issue for M1 Mac viewing files on the NTFS disk. We’ve called Apple Care. They said the problem was the M1 Mac comes with macOS Big Sur installed but the new macOS does not recognize drives using NTFS.  

How to fix M1 Mac not showing files or folders on an NTFS external drive?

There are three ways you can edit files on NTFS-formatted drives immediately after the drive is mounted and opened.

Among the ways, installing an NTFS driver for Mac is the easiest because it doesn’t involve Terminal commands nor formatting.

Solution 1: Format the NTFS disk to make it Mac-friendly

The first solution to edit NTFS files on Mac is to completely format the disk to a Mac-friendly file system such as FAT or exFAT. However, it will have two serious problems. One is that you have to back up the files first before formatting and move them back to the disk once formatting is done. You will need another storage device for backup if your Mac’s internal hard drive doesn’t have enough capacity. It also takes a lot of time to do so. The other problem is that you need to format each NTFS disk, which is not friendly to people who have multiple NTFS-formatted disks in theirhands.

If those two problems are not in your consideration, formatting can be done in Disk Utility quickly.

Step 1: Open Disk Utility software and find your NTFS disk/volume on the left list.

Step 2:  Right-click the disk/volume and select Erase, or you can select the disk/volume and click on Erase on the toolbar at the top.

Step 3:  Give it a name, choose FAT or exFAT in Format, and GUID Partition Table in Scheme.

Step 4: Click on the Erase button on the pop-up to consent.

Solution 2: Install NTFS for Mac driver to enable full NTFS read-write access

A driver is a software interface to hardware devices, enabling operating system or other programs to access the hardware functions. An NTFS driver is a specific file system driver that communicated with an NTFS-formatted device and Mac’s operating system, eliminating the limitation of read-only NTFS files and enabling macOS to read write to NTFS files.

At present, iBoysoft NTFS for Mac is the first and only NTFS for Mac that works on macOS 11/10.15/10.14/10.13 and Macs with an M1 chip. It is highly integrated with Finder and Disk Utility, so file management and disk management to NTFS-formatted drives on Mac will have no difference from a FAT, ExFAT, HFS+, or APFS drives. You can rename, edit, delete, convert, tag, and airdrop NTFS drives freely.

Solution 3: Modify the Kernel extension to enable native NTFS write support

The NTFS write support exists deeply within macOS, which can’t be enabled without manually editing the Kernel extension. The method is annoying because you have to write commands for each NTFS disk/volume. Once the computer restarts, you may have to rewrite the commands again. This function is little tested and reliability is in question.

To do so:

Step 1:  Open Terminal application.

Step 2:  Copy and paste the command to the Terminal window: sudo  nano / etc/fstab

Step 3: Hit Enter and enter the password if asked. No password will show up, don’t worry. Hit Enter again.

Step 4: Copy and paste the command: LABEL=NAME non ntfs rw, auto, nobrowse. Remember to replace the NAME with the name of your NTFS disk. Write different command for every single NTFS disk you are using.

Step 5: Press Control and O keys to save the editing.

Step 6: Press Control and X to exit.

Step 7: Re-attach the NTFS disk to the Mac.

Step 8: Find the NTFS disk through Go at top bar > Go to Folder > /Volumes and hit Enter.

Conclusion

Editing NTFS files and using NTFS drives on M1 Macs is totally possible. These solutions are well suited to any hard drives, solid-state drives and USB drives with Windows NTFS format. We hope you can evaluate your situation and find the one that meets your needs best.

Katrina
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