How to Fix a Read-only External Hard Drive on Mac without Formatting

Somei LiamUpdated by Somei Liam / Dec 31, 2020 09:20

My Seagate external hard drive (Mac OS Extended) became read-only all of a sudden. This happened after an unsuccessful Time Machine Backup from yesterday due to inadequate disk space… I tried to reformat the external hard drive. But I lost important files. Can anyone show me how to recover data from a Seagate external hard drive read-only on Mac?

It means you can open, view and copy files from the external hard drive. Sadly, you are not allowed to make any change with the external drive. When your external drive is detected as Read-only, do not worry about that. You can use the following solutions to recover data from hard drive and get your external hard drive back to work with ease.

recover mac data external hard drive read only

Guide List

1. How Do I Make External Hard Drive Read and Write on Mac without Formatting

Firstly, you need to figure out the question Why is my external hard drive read-only on Mac? Here are common reasons that cause Mac external hard drive read-only problems. Just read and take measures to fix your corrupted external hard drive.

Way 1: Edit Preferences

The wrong commands can make an external hard drive read-only and cause many other unexpected errors on Mac. Thus, you can edit preference files to access the read-only Mac external hard drive.

Step 1 Open Terminal. Type the nano etc/fstab command. You can see hidden files for further authorizations.

Step 2 Type LABEL=DRIVENAME none NTFS rw, auto, nobrowse in the editor window. (DRIVENAME indicates your read-only external hard drive’s name.)

Step 3 Press and hold Control and O keys to save and exit the window.

Step 4 Unmount and attach your external hard drive.

unmount external hard drive on mac

Way 2: Ignore Permissions

Sometimes the permission settings may not be recognized. Thus, the Mac computer may prevent users from accessing files on the drive. During this time, you can change permissions on the external hard drive on Mac without formatting.

Step 1 Right-cpck on your external hard drive icon, choose Get Info from its right-cpck menu.

Step 2 Unfold the Sharing & Permissions section.

Step 3 Cpck the Lock icon near the bottom of the window.

Step 4 Mark before Ignoring ownership on this volume to fix a corrupted external hard drive.

ignore ownership on this volume

Way 3: Check and Repair External Hard Drive Errors with Disk Utipty

There are many other errors that cause read-only errors. You can run Disk Utipty to check and repair the external hard drive read-only on Mac problem.

Step 1 Open Disk Utipty.

Step 2 Select the name of your read-only external hard drive in the left panel.

Step 3 Cpck First Aid followed by Run to solve read-only external hard drive problems on Mac.

fix read-only external hard drive with disk utility

2. Best Way to Recover Files from a Read-only External Hard Drive on Mac

When you choose Get Info from the external hard drive’s right-click menu, you may find your external hard drive is NTFS format. During this time, you need to reformat it to the Mac-compatible format. You can copy files to other storage devices for backup. If you find some files are disappeared or hidden, you can use FoneLab Data Retriever to recover Mac data from a read-only external hard drive.

The Mac data recovery software can help you recover photos, videos, music, documents and many other files from your read-only external hard drive. It does not matter if your storage drive is not responding or corrupted. You can bypass those problems and regain Mac data via FoneLab Data Retriever with ease.

Main Features of the Mac Hard Drive Recovery Software

  1. Recover data from a read-only external hard drive on Mac selectiv.ely and safely.
  2. Recover lost or deleted data from Mac, PC, memory cards, flash drive, digital camera camcorder, hard drive, and other removable drives.
  3. Scan data on Mac from a read-only hard drive via Quick Scan or Deep Scan mode.
  4. Wide support of recoverable data types and formats.

How to Recover Data from an Unreadable External Hard Drive on Mac

FoneLab Data Retriever
FoneLab Data Retriever

FoneLab Data Retriever - recover the lost/deleted data from computer, hard drive, flash drive, memory card, digital camera and more.

  • Recover photos, videos, contacts, WhatsApp, and more data with ease.
  • Preview data before recovery.

Step 1Launch Mac hard drive recovery software. Click Start to enter into the Mac data recovery interface.

launch mac hard drive recovery software

Step 2Choose the data type and disk location about your external hard drive with read-only problems.

choose data type and location

Step 3Click Scan to perform a Quick Scan on the selected disk volume. Sooner, you can see all available files in categories.

perform quick scan

Step 4Preview and select any file you need. Then click Recover to recover Mac data from a damaged external hard drive with read-only errors.

choose file to recover


These are proven solutions to fix a read-only external hard drive on Mac without formatting. Even though you format the external hard drive, you can still get back all files in the original state. Actually, Data Retriever is your reliable tool that can recover data from a formatted external hard drive on Mac. You can start a free trial to recover deleted or lost Mac data right now!

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