Laptop Issues

[Fixed] USB Flash Drive Is Read-Only on Mac

A USB flash drive, often simply called a “USB stick”, “thumb drive”, “jump drive”, or “pen drive”, is a portable or thumb-like data storage device that uses flash memory and features a built-in Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface to store and transfer data. Due to its compact size, high storage capacity, and ease of use, the USB drive has become widely popular for file transfer among computer users. 

While using a USB flash drive with your Mac is typically trouble-free, occasional errors may arise, with one prevalent issue being the Mac indicating that USB drive is read-only on Mac. When a USB drive is in read-only mode, it implies that you can only view or read the data on the drive but are restricted from modifying the contents on it. Fortunately, you can refer to this article for step-by-step instructions on fixing the USB drive is read-only on Mac issue.

Potential Reasons Why a USB Drive Is Read-Only on Mac

Why does a USB flash drive appear as read-only on Mac? The possible causes behind this problem may vary from case to case, shedding light on factors like USB drive corruption, unidentified errors within the USB flash drive, incorrect device connection, read-only USB drive permission, the USB drive being formatted as NTFS, virus infection, etc. It’s essential to understand these reasons to effectively troubleshoot and resolve the read-only status of USB drives on Mac.

Instances and Associated Fixes for USB Drive Read-Only on Mac

The reasons for the issue differ from one case to another, as do the solutions that correspond to them. Here, we outline the three most prevalent scenarios encountered by Mac users, along with their respective fixes.

Scenario 1 The Permission for the USB Drive Has Been Altered to Read-Only 

If you previously set permission restrictions on your USB drive on Mac, it may appear as read-only on Mac. To resolve this issue, simply adjust the permission settings to make the USB flash drive writable on your Mac machine again.

Step 1 Connect the read-only USB flash drive to your Mac, locate and right-click on its icon from your Mac desktop, and then select the “Get Info” option from the context menu.  


Step 2 Click the arrow beside “Sharing & Permissions in the Get Info window to confirm if your privilege for this USB drive is read-only. 


Step 3 Click the “Lock” icon situated at the lower right corner and enter your admin password to unlock your editing permissions when seeing the read-only permission. 

Step 4 Keep the checkbox before the “Ignore ownership on this volume” option is ticked. Now, you should be able to access and edit files on your USB flash drive on macOS without any limitations.


Scenario 2 The USB Drive Is Formatted with an NTFS File System

Some USB drives come pre-formatted with the Microsoft NTFS file system primarily intended for Windows usage, which will lead to USB drive read-only on Mac, as NTFS is not natively compatible with macOS. If the NTFS file system is indeed the root factor causing your USB drive to read-only on Mac, then you can utilize the following steps to regain writable access to your USB drive.

Step 1 Launch “Finder”, click “Applications” from the left sidebar, scroll down to locate and double-click “Utilities” followed by “Disk Utility”.    

Step 2 Select the attached USB drive displaying the read-only error from the left sidebar to check its file system information. If the drive is formatted with NTFS, you’ll see “Windows NT File System” in the right column. At this time, you need to employ a third-party NTFS for Mac tool called iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to enable write access to your NTFS-formatted USB drive on Mac. This utility functions as an NTFS for Mac mounter, allowing you to mount your NTFS drive on Mac with full read and write capabilities without the need to reformat it.   


Step 3 Go to the official site to free download and install iBoysoft NTFS for Mac on any Intel-based or ARM-based Mac devices running macOS High Sierra and later versions.

Step 4 Launch this NTFS for Mac solution, then the read-only USB drive will be automatically mounted in read-write mode, enabling you to read, write, edit, rename, and delete files on the NTFS-formatted USB drive on Mac.


If your USB drive, formatted with NTFS, is empty, you can simply reformat it with a file system compatible with your Mac to resolve the USB drive is read-only on Mac problem, which can also grant you a full read and write access to the drive.

Scenario 3 The USB Drive Harbors Unidentified Errors

When a USB drive encounters unidentified internal errors, it may manifest as read-only on Mac, hindering file editing, transferring, deleting, or modifying. In such instances, resolving the USB drive read-only on Mac issue can entail running First Aid in Disk Utility to address potential errors. 

Step 1 Insert the read-only USB drive into your Mac.

Step 2 Launch the Disk Utility program by navigating to “Launchpad > Other > Disk Utility”. 

Step 3 Select the read-only USB drive from the left column and click on the “First Aid” tab at the top toolbar to open the repair dialogue box, then click “Run” to initiate the reparation process.

Step 4 Safely eject and reconnect the drive to your Mac after USB drive reparation to verify if you can now write to your USB drive freely.


Sum it Up

This article offers various methods to address the USB drive read-only on Mac problem. By systematically applying these methods, you can resolve the issue and regain the ability to write to your previously read-only USB flash drive. Again, if your USB drive is formatted with NTFS, consider using iBoysoft NTFS for Mac to effortlessly attain full read-write access to it on Mac.

Ferdinand is a multifaceted individual with a passion for lifelong learning and a love for both the virtual and real realms. His journey spans diverse talents, from mastering game strategies to exploring video game landscapes. With a keen eye for detail and an inquisitive mind, he seeks new horizons and endless growth in gaming universe.
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