2. If You Need a One-Time Fix

This may happen even though getting information on files and folders shows you ought to have full access to the drive.

Easy Fixes to “External Hard Drive Read Only” Error on Mac

To prevent such errors from happening, OS X includes a setting to ignore permissions on external drives, so all files on the drive should be fully accessible regardless of their permissions settings. To set this option for external drives, select the drive on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar, and then press Command-I to get information on the drive. In the information window that pops up, go to the Sharing section and click the lock to authenticate.


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Then check the box to "ignore ownership on this volume," or toggle it off and then on if it's already enabled. If this setting is enabled and you still do not have access, you can try removing the system's volume information database, which holds this setting for external drives on the system.

In here, locate the file called "volinfo. Once this is complete, detach and reattach your external drive, and then try toggling the setting to ignore ownership on the volume. Note that these permissions settings will only be available on drives with formats that support them, so if you are using a FATformatted drive, the option to ignore permissions will not be available. Check drive for errors Formatting errors can also cause a drive to be read-only.

While in many cases formatting errors are relatively minor and tolerated by the system, there are times when the system may determine it safest to only mount the drive in a read-only state to prevent corruption to the data on it. When this happens, you should see a warning when attaching the drive that states it is only being mounted in read-only mode, and in these cases you should first back up all contents on the drive. Then use Disk Utility or another robust disk or volume repair tool like DiskWarrior to check the drive for errors and attempt to fix them.

How to Change Permissions for Files and Folders in Mac® OS X™

Sometimes errors can go unnoticed on a drive, so if these tools report the drive is working OK, then consider wiping the drive and repartitioning it. This can be done with Disk Utility by selecting the drive device in the program's sidebar, then going to the Partition tab that appears and choosing "1 Partition" from the drop-down menu. Then click the Options button and choose GUID as the partition type to use, followed by clicking Apply to save these changes.


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Generally read-only errors with drives are limited to their formatting, so these steps should help fix the problem, but do keep an eye on the drive; if the problem crops up again, it could be a hardware malfunction in the drive, in which case it would be best to replace it.

Have a fix? Oct 31, PM in response to paulfromconifer In response to paulfromconifer. Mac Book Air. Two external drives from different Manufacturers. Both formatted Mac OS Extended. Both spontaneously become read only. Unable to create folders or copy files on either drive.

All replies

One used for Time Machine started failing as disk become read only. Disk Utility first aid ran fine and reported no errors. Able to "unlock" the lock on drvies Get Info screen, but unable to change any privileges. What happened? How do you fix? Oct 31, PM. Similar problem.

How to Write to NTFS Drives on a Mac

Both converted to Read Only, so I do not believe it is a disk issue. Both formated as Mac OS Exetended. The instructions you provided are unavailable. I can click on the Lock, but I am unable to change an permission settings. Any other ideas? Nov 1, PM. Communities Contact Support. Sign in Sign in Sign in corporate. Browse Search. Ask a question. User profile for user: paulfromconifer paulfromconifer. Notebooks Speciality level out of ten: 0. More Less.

How to access an external drive that's not recognized on a Mac

All replies Drop Down menu. Loading page content. User level: Community Specialist. From your post, I see you're encountering an issue with an external drive. What type of connection are you using with your external hard drive? Also, are you using the same user account you had prior to service? Also, you mentioned you've erased the external drive.

If you have another drive available for testing, do you experience the same issue with that drive? Knowing this would help to rule out a few issues on the Mac and port sides. Have you tried changing the permissions for the external drive?