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iteachmac, The Duke!
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I have an external hard drive attached by USB to my MAC Pro.

Resolved Question:

I have an external hard drive attached by USB to my MAC Pro. I can see other photo's I have backed up there from my old PC, but when I try to copy the iphoto library, export photo's or drag them to the hard drive using my MAC it doesn't let you.

Help please. I have all of my photo's on there but the one's I have used the MAC for are now stuck in the MAC.


Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  iteachmac replied 7 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
iteachmac :

Hi , i would like to help .

iteachmac :

Sounds like the memory stick is PC format ? NTFS maybe , what size it the stick , what do you use it with Mac only or PC & MAC . ??


It isn't a stick - it's an IOMEGA external 500gb drive. I figured it might be because it was for my PC before. Can I use it for both? Seems mad that I am try to just move .jpg files so a pain that I can't copy them. I can move them to a memory stick but not to this external hard drive.

iteachmac :

permissions issues are another issue with USB sticks etc and moving files , esp photos . I can help with this . Firstly can you move files to the Mac desktop ? and can you move files back on to the USB stick ? Does this basic funtion work ?

iteachmac :

Hi , ok the fault is the same . I think the disks are formatted NTFS , you can get your mac to work with NTFS with some additional tools installed. Mac OSX will only READ NTFS normally , you can WRITE , unless the tools have been added .


I have exported them to the desktop as I read that somewhere else - but can't get any further than that. My memory sticks would be too small for the photo's I want to move (used somebody elses before) so just want to move them straight to external drive. I was going to get a stick and copy to stick and then use PC laptop to copy to hard drive - but this isn't a great solution everytime I want to back them up.


Oh OK - that explains why I can see everything on it but can't write back to it. Thanks - what tools?

iteachmac :

Can you write to the disks from the Mac ? If not then this is the problem .

iteachmac :

Yes , Mac OSX works with FAT32 normally , for both READ and WRITE . but there is a 4GB limit on file size .

iteachmac :

FAT32 is the older PC file format .


write to what disks?

iteachmac :

ok , one second and i will get the info..


Any thoughts?

iteachmac :

Always copy your photos from the external to the Mac desktop , and then add to the iphoto library . this can avoid other permissions issues . Setting up NTFS for PC / Mac HD and memory sticks :-

Firstly downloading NTFS tools for the mac is a great help when using PC format disks.

Format your USB stick as NTFS or FAT32 to use to transfer your data to the Mac , and it should work fine .

Always safely un-mount "or remove " your connected HD disks or USB memory sticks by dragging them "The desktop icon " to the Trashcan / Eject button in the lower Dock right hand side Trash / Eject on Mac OSX .

1 Get NTFS tools here for OSX :-

2 Install and reboot , you will see an extra control panel in the System preferences for NTFS Preferences on the Mac. "See the control panel in the :- Apple menu / System preferences , NTFS control panel pane " .

3 . Launch Disk utilities on the Mac , use Spotlight search to find the application and launch with a left click on the name found in the search results.

4 Once NTFS tools are installed on your Mac you can format NTFS in the Disk utilities application on the Mac , Found in Applications / Utilities .
If you need extra help doing this please ask :)

Extra help :-

You now can now read and write NTFS disks on the Mac , this means you can use an external drive or USB memory stick with a PC as well as the Mac as you require.

1 Load Disk utilities "Optional instructions for format "

2 Select your external drive in the left column list .
See the current format and other volume information ,
This is now displayed to the bottom of the screen window within Disk utilities .

3 Partition the drive and format with NTFS and GUID table. If needed .
If the drive or memory card is not NTFS .

4 For HD disks to be used on the Mac only , please use the Apple standard HFS+
or Mac OS Extended (journaled ) formats .

You can now use the NTFS volume formats ,
both your Mac and PC can use those formats to read and write data.

The reason you need NTFS tools , and use the format is that you can still use files above 4gb with NTFS , Fat 32 can only use files up to 4gb and is obsolete in my opinion .

I hope this gets you up and running.
This is a cross compatible solution for your Mac setup and future use.

Remember , If you need to back up files from Mac to PC use the NTFS standard for your External HD disks and USB memory cards .

If the USB Memory card is less than 4gb you could still use FAT32 , as it makes no difference here .

Macs with OSX can read and write FAT32 format out of the box .
But only read NTFS and this is why NTFS 3G tools or similar are desirable .

Please note :-
Time machine only works with Mac OS Extended / (journaled ) formats

I hope this helps .



Thanks very much for your help - I will give that a try. Jane

iteachmac :

You dont need to format your disks if they are already working ok by the way . :) just install the tools and test ..

iteachmac :

:) yes this should fix 95% of the problems .

iteachmac :

Please can you press accept on the answer once happy , also please let me know if you have any issue , i will give extra info to fix permissions on photos and files if needed .

iteachmac and 4 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you

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