Mac says i can only read external hard drive

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Solved: External Hard Drive is Read Only on Mac

You are baffled with this situation and need an immediate fix for the external hard drive read-only error on Mac. This happens when your external hard drive is in read-only mode. This blog post helps you with methods to resolve the external hard drive read-only error on Mac. It further guides you with Mac external hard drive recovery solution, in case data is deleted or erased while troubleshooting the external hard drive read-only error.

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If the drive is in read-only state, then you can only read data from the drive, but cannot write data on to it. So, what might be the reasons behind this read-only state?

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The following section describes in detail. Warning : Back up the files on the Mac external hard drive before erasing it. This is critical to avoid data loss. If the external hard drive is in NTFS format, erasing it to a macOS compatible file system format should fix the read-only issue. Once you have erased the external storage drive, you can connect the drive as usual to your Mac to read and write content on the drive. Ignore Ownership. When the read-only error is due to unrecognized access permission settings, then do the following:.

Repair the Drive.

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In this situation, a Mac external hard drive data recovery software will help you retrieve the lost data from the erased hard drive. The following section outlines a data recovery software which helps in this particular situation.


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To recover erased or deleted data from the Mac external storage drive, go through the following steps:. When the software completes the recovery task, go to the specified save destination to verify the recovered data.

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Copy the data back to the external storage drive with macOS compatible formatting. For instance, when the external hard drive has a mismatched file system, then the best fix is to copy the content of the drive to your Mac, and then erase it by using Disk Utility. Once the drive is formatted to the macOS Mojave compatible format, you can restore the copied files from the Mac to the formatted external storage drive. Further, if you are using the external hard drive on older Mac OS X system, then the newer macOS Mojave system may not recognize the access permission settings.

So, you can try to ignore ownership of the drive to fix the read-only problem.


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It can also happen if you are switching between using the drive on a Mac and a Windows PC. No matter the reason why, this can be a very frustrating thing to deal with, especially if you have just backed up a large amount of files onto your new drive.

Microsoft NTFS for Mac by Paragon Software

The first thing you will run across when you search for a read-only external hard drive on a Mac is the suggestion to reformat it. You can check by either trying to copy a file to it or right clicking on it in your Finder , selecting Get Info , and making sure the permissions have changed to read and write. But most of the time, this will solve the problem and allow you to use your external hard drive freely between your Mac and PC. One way to prevent this issue from happening with your Seagate or other external hard drive is to set up your external hard drive as specified in the directions that come with the product.