Grabbing NTFS Hidden Files on a Mac

Let’s say you need to grab some files from an old NTFS hard drive. You hook it up to your dock or external enclosure, and traverse the directory structure only to find that certain folders are entirely in accessible. What do you do now?

Well, the easy answer is that OS X doesn’t fully support the NTFS file system. What you’re seeing is a result of this. Windows extended options for files and folders, in this case, don’t mesh well with the Linux permissions system that is in use on the Macintosh OS.

While there are some third-party applications that allow you to use the NTFS drive with full support from your Macintosh, I prefer the Terminal method. Basically, what we do is tell the system to recursively (-r) traverse the file system using the current file system format (-x) of the directory (DIR) of the drive (DRIVE), and store it all in the home directory (~) within a folder named (BACKUP) as seen in the following example where we’ll copy the ProgramData folder from our NTFS drive:

cp -R -X /Volumes/DRIVE/ProgramData ~/BACKUP/

And that’s it. Just swap out ProgramData with whatever directory path you wish to copy, and you’re good to go.

2 thoughts on “Grabbing NTFS Hidden Files on a Mac

  1. In order to preserve the modification time on the files it is better to use: sudo cp -p -R -X /Volumes/DRIVE/ProgramData ~/BACKUP/

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