Paragon NTFS for Mac 15 review: Slick, native performance for accessing NTFS Windows drives

paragon ntfs for mac 15 app icon
Paragon Software
At a Glance
  • NTFS for Mac 15

    Macworld Rating
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Paragon NTFS for Mac 15 ($20) is a file system driver that allows Mac OS X Yosemite and later (incuding macOS Sierra) to read and write to hard drives, solid-state storage devices, and USB thumb drives formatted for Windows systems.

Macs have always been able to read and write to another Windows format, FAT (File Allocation Table), but this older format isn’t well suited to today’s larger capacity drives, maxing out at 2TB with FAT32.

Microsoft has since moved on to exFAT, which resolves the 2TB limitation while natively supported for read and write on Mac. But NTFS remains the de facto standard for most PC users. With this software installed, working with such volumes is seamless.

That’s because NTFS for Mac delivers read/write data transfer rates equivalent to the native macOS HFS+ file system. Because this software is derived from Paragon’s proprietary Universal File System Driver, users won’t experience bugs or outright instabilities found in open-source alternatives, which tap into hidden NTFS write support Apple disables by default for good reason.

paragon ntfs for mac 15 user interface J. R. Bookwalter

Now available as a standalone app, Paragon NTFS for Mac 15 features a gorgeous new user interface.

Paragon NTFS for Mac 15: Hey, good-lookin’

In the previous NTFS for Mac 14, formatting tools were briefly exiled to System Preferences after years of working directly inside Apple’s Disk Utility. I’m happy to report version 15 restores the ability to format NTFS drives alongside the usual Mac OS Extended, exFAT, and FAT options, but the software now works as a standalone application as well.

And what a gorgeous app it is! The user interface is tastefully designed, with buttons for mounting, unmounting, verifying, or erasing the selected volume. Dual-boot users also have the option to reboot into a compatible mounted Mac or Windows startup volume. There’s even a lovely color-coded space indicator like the one introduced with Mac OS X El Capitan, displaying content by Audio, Video, Apps, Images, and Other categories.

The app includes options to enable Spotlight indexing, mount disks read-only, or disable auto-mount on a per-volume basis. You can also mount or eject disks from the menu bar, thanks to a helper app that works even when the main application is closed.

paragon ntfs for mac 15 menu bar app J. R. Bookwalter

Mount or unmount any volume on your Mac using the optional menu bar app in Paragon NTFS for Mac 15.

As someone who already has too many menu bar icons, this feature seemed gratuitous at first, but I soon found myself using it often. If you already have Paragon ExtFS for Mac 11 installed (which provides similar read/write access for Linux volumes), you’ll wind up with two identical menu bar apps, but it’s easy to disable one or both via preferences. (I’m hoping both utilities will eventually be consolidated into a single app.)

Bottom line

Paragon NTFS for Mac 15 is a great upgrade to an exceptional cross-platform utility that’s easily worth the money, especially if you own the previous version 14, in which case this one’s free.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating
    View
    on Paragon Software

    Pros

    • Fast, native read/write access for Windows NTFS volumes
    • Standalone Mac app with gorgeous UI
    • Optional menu bar app with mount/unmount controls

    Cons

    • Duplicated menu bar functionality with Paragon ExtFS for Mac 11
    • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or earlier requires NTFS for Mac 12
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