If you want to create, manage and maintain databases on your Mac, we’ve looked at the best alternatives to Microsoft Access for Mac that make it easy.
- MDB Viewer Plus is a bare-bones database application. It allows you to view, edit, and search through a Microsoft Access database file without having Access installed on the machine.
- Microsoft Download Manager is free and available for download now. Back Next The Microsoft Access 2016 Runtime enables you to distribute Access 2016 applications to users who do not have the full version of Access 2016 installed on their computers.
Export Microsoft Access MDB to CSV is a utility created by FrontierDG.com. Using Export Microsoft Access MDB to CSV you can easily export data from Microsoft Access to tab delimited, comma delimited, or comma delimited with text qualifier files.
Access For Mac has never been released but there are several apps here that can open and edit MDB databases on a Mac.
However, it’s important to be aware from the start that for full editing and opening of password protected files your best option is to run Windows on your Mac and install Access.
The easiest way to run Windows on your Mac is to use Parallels which allows you to run Windows and macOS at the same time.
None of the apps featured here can edit password protected Access file but Parallels allows you to install Windows on your Mac and thus enjoy the full version of Microsoft Access.
You can read more in our review of Parallels for Mac here.
However, if password protected Access files isn’t an issue for you, you’ll find here some of the best Mac data management software that make it incredibly easy to build databases for MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite and more.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Filemaker for Mac because it won’t work on macOS Mojave or a replacement for Bento for Mac which is discontinued, then you’ll find plenty of good solutions here.
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Below then is our list of the best database software for Mac in order of ranking that make great alternatives to Microsoft Access.
Wizard for Mac is a superb alternative to Access on Mac that makes it incredibly easy to create databases and analyze data on a Mac.
Wizard can import Microsoft Access MDB files along with DBF, Excel XLS/XLSX, Apple Numbers, RData/RDS, JSON, SQLite and text files.
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It can also connect to and import MySQL and PostgreSQL files and the Pro version can import SPSS, SAS and Stata files.
Wizard is excellent for data analysis, statistics, visualization and making better business decisions via predictive modelling.
If you’ve just carried out a survey and need to crunch the data, it can reveal trends in a few clicks.
Other ways Wizard for Mac can be used are for applying statistics in medicine, marketing or public policy, instant summaries for market research and making it easier for teachers to visually display statistics for students.
Wizard can be used for simple linear models but with a few clicks, you can get much more out of it. For instance, you can use Wizard to predict probabilities via logistic, negative binomial or proportional hazard models.
If you’re doing Sales or Marketing, you can predict consumer choices in a few clicks with a multinomial logit or ordered probit.
Microsoft Access Reader
Wizard is a refreshingly non-technical alternative to Microsoft Access on Mac and is both easy to beginners to grasp but also powerful enough for professionals to get deep down into their data.
For example, when you start Wizard, you’re encouraged to use an interactive tutorial which takes you through the basics of the app and shows you how to perform the most common functions.
You can analyze data within minutes of importing it into Wizard for Mac in the form of graphics, correlations, p-values and models. Modelling data is surprisingly easy and you can see changes to regression estimates in real-time as you change data and values.
The graphics have been designed with macOS in mind and Wizard produces attractive scatterplots, histograms, survival curves and charts of all shapes and sizes.
There are no limits to the number of columns and rows you can use and you can import databases from R. You can export graphics and data to PNG, PDF, Excel and LibreOffice format for sharing with colleagues on PC and Windows.
As a result and most surprisingly of all perhaps, Wizard actually makes number crunching reasonably effortless and fun.
One of the other things about Wizard is that it’s extremely fast. MS Access feels sluggish in comparison and you can instantly compare means with a t test or check for normality with a Shapiro-Wilk. If you’re used to programming in R on PC, you’ll particularly notice how zippy Wizard feels.
Overall, Wizard is an extremely good alternative way to open and edit MS Access files on Mac. The developer Evan Miller is responsive to problems and issues and there’s also a lively Google Group Wizard support forum where you can find the answers to most common issues or get help from other users.
The developer claims that Wizard is the “first statistics program designed to make multivariate data analysis easy and fun” and while that’s a tall order, it’s hard to disagree.
You can get Wizard Pro direct from the Mac App Store or get the Standard version of Wizard and upgrade in-app by going to the Wizard Menu and select “Unlock Pro Features”.
2. MDB ACCDB Viewer
MDB ACCDB Viewer opens Access files in both the old .mdb format and newer .accdb format at no extra cost or hassle. MDB ACCDB Viewer is also extremely quick compared to the other options and handles large databases with ease.
You can search your data and it comes with extensive documentation for exporting to other apps such as Numbers and OpenOffice. SQL exporting can be a bit messy but other than that, MDB ACCDB is one of the most powerful tools available for opening database files on a Mac.
3. Access Database Manager
Access Database Manager not only allows you to open MS Access files but even edit them although you have to make an in app purchase to do the latter. It supports Access 2000 files and upwards and allows you to filter, sort, export data and more.
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The real attraction is the ability to edit MDB files on a Mac though and for in-app purchases starting at $4.99, you can unlock the editing features. These include the ability to update table row data, add new tables, create databases, import CSV data and even build a customized user interface for your database. If you need maximum control over your database files, then Database Manager is probably your best option.
4. MDB Tool – For Microsoft Access
MDB Tool – For Microsoft Access allows you to export data directly into SQL or CSV and open it in Excel. It’s one of the simplest ways to open database files on Mac but does have several serious limitations. It only works with Databases in Access 2007 or below format – it does not work with 2010/2013 files and above. It’s also only suitable for small databases because although it can open large databases, it’s extremely slow. And although you can view tables, it does not support queries, forms or reports.
5. MDB Explorer
MDB Explorer is a clear and simple tool that opens both MDB and MDE files on Mac and supports exporting to SQLite, CSV, TXT, XML, XLS and XLSX to open in Excel. MDB Explorer supports Access 97-2003 (.mdb) files but if you want to use 2007-2013 files, you must pay extra and upgrade from within the app itself for an extra $12.99. However, MDB Explorer has limitations. You can only view and export tables and forms, queries cannot be displayed and you can’t modify database data using MDB Explorer. You can try a free trial of MDB Explorer first before deciding whether to buy.
6. ACCDB MDB Explorer
ACCDB MDB Explorer is by the same developer as MDB Explorer but is more powerful as it allows you to access tables from multiple ACCDB, MDB, ACCDE and MDE databases without Access on your Mac. It can convert databases to CSV, TXT, XML, XLS and XLSX and SQL for use in applications such as MySQL, Oracle and SQlite. It also reads all formats from 1997-2013. However, note that ACCDB MDB Explorer is only designed for viewing and exporting tables – forms and queries cannot be displayed and you can’t modify data. There’s a free trial of ACCDB MDB Explorer so you can try it for yourself first.
MDBLite is the simplest but most limited option of the lot. It only works with Access 2003 files – it does not work with 2007 or higher. The only way to open Access 2007 files with MDBLite is to export them to 2003 format and convert that file instead. MDBLite is however very easy to use. Just drag and drop MDB files into MDBLite and it automatically converts MDB databases to SQLite. You can then export the database as a CSV file or raw SQL statement. And at only $3.99, you haven’t got much to lose.
8. FileMaker Pro
FileMaker Pro is one of the bestselling and most powerful database creation tools on Mac (and also works on Windows). Filemaker is actually owned by Apple and as a result looks and works great on Mac.
FileMaker Pro is suitable for a wide range of database needs such as managing clients, employee databases, managing projects, tracking inventory etc.
FileMaker does not support direct importing of MS Access files. However, it can import Microsoft Access databases if used alongside Actual ODBC Driver For Access (see review below).
Filemaker Pro is also complemented by the FileMaker Go iPad and iPhone app which allows you to collaborate on projects and modify databases on the move or manage stock more effectively in the workplace instead of using lots of Excel sheets.
The main problem with FileMaker is that it’s not as “transparent” as Access in the way it creates databases. For example, the tables in FileMaker Pro are basically hidden from the user whereas in Access, it’s much easier to access them.
It’s also increasingly aimed at a corporate customers rather than individuals which is reflected in the pricing. Filemaker Pro for Mac costs $329 for an individual license although the Advanced version costs $549 and includes more development and diagnostic tools to create and manage custom apps.
There’s also a 30 day free trial of Filemaker Pro so you can try it for yourself. Note that currently, Filemaker is not compatible with macOS Mojave so if you’ve already upgraded, you can’t use it.
9. Actual ODBC Driver For Access
Actual ODBC Driver For Access allows you to connect Microsoft Excel on Mac or Filemaker Pro for Mac to Microsoft Access databases. If you’ve already got Microsoft Excel or Filemaker Pro on your Mac, it’s an excellent way to get Access on your Mac. There are other applications that it works with – such as OpenOffice and NeoOffice – but it’s most effective when combined with Excel and Filemaker Pro. A simple setup wizard helps you connect Access databases to Actual ODBC Driver for Access and there’s very little to configure as all you need to give it is the name, DSN type, description and location of your Access database file.
It works with Access 97 databases or higher and supports standard SQL “select” and “join” statements although note that read-only “insert” and “update” SQL statements and password protected databases are not supported. You can even try it for free and see how well it works in accessing and retrieving data from your Access database.
10. LibreOffice – Base
LibreOffice – Base is a free open source solution to create databases on Mac and part of the excellent LibreOffice free office suite which is a free alternative to Microsoft Office on Mac. It’s nowhere near as powerful or as glossy as FileMaker Pro but it packs a lot of features into a free package.
LibreOffice Base supports opening of Access files as well as MySQL/MariaDB, Adabas D and PostgreSQL. There’s also support for JDBC and ODBC drivers meaning you can connect to most other databases as well. However, you will need an ODBC driver in order to connect to Access databases such as Actual ODBC Driver For Access (see review above) which costs $39.95. Even if Base doesn’t fit your needs, by downloading the LibreOffice suite, you’re getting an office suite absolutely free. LibreOffice Base is surprisingly powerful for a free package although has nowhere near as many features as FileMakerPro and unlike the latter isn’t designed specifically for Mac.
11. Access Database Viewer
Finally, Access Database Viewer is a very simple and inexpensive app to view both older MDB and newer ACCDB files on your Mac. Although its very basic, it does allow you to view and export data including Access database formats from 1997 to 2013. You will be able to see all of your stored data but you can’t modify data and you cannot see forms or queries.
12. Tap Forms
Although it can’t open Access files, Tap Forms is definitely worth a mention. Tap Forms is a user friendly database manager designed specifically for Mac. It’s ideal for those that can’t handle the complexity or learning curve of Access but want to make databases or forms easily.
Tap Forms makes it easy to create databases for accounts, recipes, inventories and more. You can include things like images, audio recordings and links to other database files.
Tap Forms has filled the gap left by the demise of Bento on Mac and you can import old Bento files, CSV, text and other formats. You can also sync Tap Forms with iCloud, IBM Cloudant, WiFi networks and Apache CouchDB Sync Servers.
If you’re looking for an easy way to create databases on Mac without MS Access complexity, Tap Forms is worth a look.
You can try a free trial of Tap Forms before you buy.
You can also watch how to migrate to Tap Forms from another app and see what’s new here.
13. Ninox Database
Finally, if you’re looking for a database creation software on Mac that’s powerful, good looking and yet still easy to use, Ninox Database is definitely worth taking a closer look.
Ninox is a slick database creation software for Mac and iOS and although it can’t import Microsoft Access file on macOS, it has taken the complex mechanics behind database creation and made it more accessible than Microsoft Access.
It goes beyond just database creation though and can easily be used as a powerful but easy to use CRM software for Mac and even as a project management software for Mac.
Compared to most database software on Mac, Ninox makes it very easy to create databases and tables, customize layouts and collaborate with other team members on creating databases.
One way it does this is by providing templates for different tasks such as timesheet tracking, real estate databases and even listing recipes.
The other thing about Ninox is that it’s incredibly fast – compared to the time it takes Microsoft Access to setup and create databases, Ninox feels very quick indeed.
Even when handling tens of thousands of entries, Ninox handles things superbly for a database software in this price range.
Other nice touches to Ninox are the ability to build reports and charts within databases and even generate invoices automatically.
You can also sync Ninox with iCloud so that you can buy one license and install it on multiple devices so that you can work on your databases on any Mac or iOS device.
On the downside, you can’t import MS Access files and the Ninox user manual can be a bit limited at although the German based developers are very responsive.
The other thing to be aware of is that Ninox can get a bit expensive if you start adding additional users via Ninox Cloud. Although Ninox is very good value for money at $34.99 for single users to add up to 5 users with 10GB of storage space on Ninox Cloud costs $29.99 with a maximum of 25 users costing $99.99 per month.
However, there are many satisfied users that will vouch that Ninix is well worth it, and if you want an alternative to Access that’s powerful, easy to use and looks great on both Mac and iPad/iPhone, it’s a fantastic database application.
As you can see, there’s still life after Microsoft Access on macOS.
Wizard Pro serves as a very good user friendly and Mac oriented equivalent to Access that can import MDB files although it still falls short in many areas compared to Microsoft’s product.
However, if you just need to view an Access file on Mac, MDB ACCDBD Viewer is probably the most powerful and flexible tool you’ll find.
Ninox Database meanwhile is one of the easiest database applications we’ve ever used on Mac and if you want something powerful but simple, it’s an amazingly impressive alternative to Microsoft Access on Mac without the high cost or learning curve.
We hope this article shows you that there are plenty of ways to live without MS Access on a Mac.
If you have any other questions, problems or experiences you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments below or get in touch directly.
File Maker Pro
FileMaker is probably the best known database application for the Mac. It has a feature set comparable to Microsoft Access, but with a strong focus on forms (layouts) as the primary way of accessing databases. Similar to Access, FileMaker stores your database logic and all the data in a single file. It also has some support for scripting, and offers options for publishing databases on the web.
However, it's also necessary to note that FileMaker is very different from Access. There is a strict distinction between application logic and the underlying tables in Access. In FileMaker, logic and data are more closely linked. The underlying tables are more or less hidden from the user, and not as easily accessible via SQL as in Access.
Bento was the entry level database application from the makers of Filemaker. Unfortunately it has been discontinued in July 2013 and is no longer available for purchase.
Open Office / Libre Office
Open Office and Libre office include a database application that tries to mimic Microsoft Access. It is difficult to use and misses many important features, such as simple import/export tools.
SQLite (using Base)
SQLite is not a full database application like Access. There are no forms or reports in SQLite, there's only your data and a simple, fast SQL engine. SQLite is used by many applications under the hood as an internal format and therefore most interesting to application developers.
A command line utility for SQLite 3 is included with every Mac, aptly named sqlite3. Most people will however prefer working with a graphical application like the excellent Base from Menial (available on the Mac App Store). Base offers a simple interface for viewing tables (with support for images) and creating custom SQL queries.
Apple Numbers and Microsoft Excel
Numbers and Excel are spreadsheet applications and thus not a replacement for Microsoft Access. However, they have good support for working with tables. If your database consists of only few tables and no forms, these apps might just do the trick. You can at least sort and filter your tables.
Converting Access Databases to Apple Numbers with MDB Viewer
Converting Access Databases to Microsoft Excel with MDB Viewer
Converting Access Databases to Microsoft Excel with MDB Viewer
Microsoft Access in Parallels / VMWare
If none of the above are suitable, you can always ressort to actually running Microsoft Access on your Mac using virtualisation software like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion.