If you’re one of the many Mac users that’s been looking in vain for an alternative to the Bento for Mac database software, here we’ve looked at the best Bento for Mac alternatives to create databases easily in macOS.
- What Happened To Bento?
- How We Chose These Bento Alternatives
- How To Export Data From Bento For Mac
- What’s The Best Bento Alternative For M1 & M2 Macs?
- Best Bento for Mac Alternatives
- 1. Knack
- 2. Airtable
- 3. Tap Forms
- 4. Claris FileMaker 2023
- 5. Ninox
- 6. Notion
- 7. Zoho Creator
- 8. Quip
- 9. Coda
- 10. Panorama X
- Free Alternatives To Bento For Mac
What Happened To Bento?
Bento was a popular personal database creation and management software made by FileMaker Inc (now known as Claris FileMaker).
Bento was a cheaper, easier to use template based version of FileMaker Pro which was a far more complex and expensive product.
Such was its popularity that Bento went on to sell over one million copies until FileMaker suddenly pulled the plug on Bento for Mac in September 2013 with no plans to bring it back.
So whether you’re looking for an alternative user friendly equivalent to Bento for Mac or you want to import some old Bento files into another database application, we’ve got you covered.
How We Chose These Bento Alternatives
The most important thing we looked for in these Bento alternatives was ease of use.
Bento’s popularity was mainly because it was light and easy to use especially for building personal databases.
Here are some of the other things that we looked for when we examined these Bento replacements:
- Database templates similar to what Bento offered
- Mac compatibility on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs
- Ideally support for Bento file importing
- Choice between offline and Cloud hosting of databases
How To Export Data From Bento For Mac
If you’ve still got Bento installed on your Mac, then you can export data from Bento in text format which you can then import into any spreadsheet app such as Excel, Google Sheets or Numbers.
To Export data from Bento, go to the File Menu > Export and then select TXT format.
Alternatively, you can also export Bento files to CSV format which can be imported into most other database applications.
There are only two tools that have tools for specifically importing Bento files – Tap Forms and Claris Filemaker.
What’s The Best Bento Alternative For M1 & M2 Macs?
If you’ve got an Apple Silicon Mac with the M1 and M2 chip then we found the best Bento alternative is Knack.
Knack works on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs including on the latest version of macOS Sonoma.
Best Bento for Mac Alternatives
With this in mind, here are the best alternatives to Bento for Mac in order of ranking.
Knack is the most user friendly database software we’ve used on a Mac and definitely takes the same simplified approach to database creation than made Bento so popular.
Knack requires absolutely no coding experience although for those that want to edit the database coding, you can tweak it manually.
Knack works on the latest versions of macOS including Sonoma and the latest M1/M2 chip Macs based on Apple Silicon.
Knack isn’t just for personal databases either.
The software has been around since 2010 and is now used by everything from small associations to Blue Chip companies such as Spotify and Panasonic.
Like Bento, Knack allows you to quickly create a database from scratch by providing you with database templates which you can quickly customize and modify however you like.
Popular templates available in Knack include
- Inventory Manager
- Project Management
- Customer Portals
- Employee Time Sheets
- Quotes and Invoices
- Property Management
- Purchase Orders
- Event Calendars
- Equipment Trackers
- Member Directory
Simply define the data your “app” (Knack lingo for database) will store and use, structure your data with fields and then connect it all together.
Knack can import Bento files in CSV format although can’t import Bento files in the raw Bento file format.
If you want to leave behind spreadsheets, documents, calendars, legacy databases and replace Bento on your Mac, we think Knack is the best option we’ve tried.
You can try Knack for free with no credit card required to judge it for yourself and you’ll get 1 hour of free support.
You can also check out our full review of Knack database software for more.
Pricing: Starting from $49/month
- Extremely easy to use like Bento
- Lots of database templates like Bento
- Easy to scale-up
- Works on all models of Mac
- Imports Bento CSV files
- Built for business more than personal databases
Airtable is a versatile, user-friendly, and highly customizable platform that is an excellent Bento alternative.
Airtable uses a spreadsheet based interface and is ideal for managing everything from personal collections to professional projects.
Airtable is suitable for personal use but can also be deployed in Enterprises and is used by Blue Chip companies including Shopify, Levis and Expedia.
Airtable has also recently introduced AI to help setup databases quicker by suggesting categories, descriptions and fields.
You can try Airtable for free.
Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans start at $20 per user per month.
- User-friendly, no coding skills required.
- Versatile for both personal and professional use.
- Collaborative features for team projects.
- Limited features in the free version.
- Can become expensive for large teams.
3. Tap Forms
Tap Forms describes itself as a “digital filing cabinet” for all of your personal data or spreadsheets.
Tap Forms is designed specifically for Mac and like Bento, features plenty of Form Templates that do much of the hard work for you.
Tap Forms is unique because it unlike most database apps, it also has a Bento Importer.
Tap Forms is the only application that can import raw Bento files so ideal if you need to access or keep using an old Bento database.
If you’re building a personal archive of documents, recipes, inventory and pretty much anything else, Tap Forms is one of the best Bento alternatives you’ll find on Mac.
- Bento Importer tool
- Ideal for personal databases and archives
- Templates to get you started
- Native Mac desktop app
- Not suitable for scaling up
4. Claris FileMaker 2023
The makers of Claris FileMaker (formerly FileMaker Pro) were the brains behind Bento so it’s no surprise FileMaker ranks highly as an alternative to Bento.
When it closed, Bento recommended FileMaker Pro as the natural replacement for it although it’s a far more complex (and expensive) product.
FileMaker is a cross-platform database software which aims to take a similar user-friendly approach to database creation but for those that need far more customization and processing power.
It’s a great option for those who require a tailored database solution without much coding knowledge.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also the best application outside of Tap Forms for importing Bento files as it supports the Bento file format.
However, the big disadvantage is that its complex and expensive compared to Bento.
You can try a 45 day free trial of Claris Filemaker 2023 to judge it for yourself.
Pricing: One-time purchase, starting at $19 per month.
- Cross-platform database software
- Custom app creation with no coding
- Integration with other apps
- Suitable for complex databases
- Imports Bento files natively
- Can be expensive for larger teams
- Learning curve for advanced use
- Not designed for personal use
If you want a slick yet more powerful alternative to Bento for Mac that can be hosted in the Cloud or locally, then take a look at Ninox for Mac.
Ninox is aimed more at small to medium sized business than individuals but can easily be used for personal databases too.
Ninox is comparable to Claris FileMaker but with an easier to use Bento style interface and it’s also much cheaper.
Ninox takes a lot more learning than Bento but if you need something more powerful but less intimidating than its big brother FileMaker, it’s an excellent alternative.
Pricing: Plans start at $10 per month
- Power relational database tool
- User friendly interface
- Lots of templates
- Can be hosted locally or in iCloud
- Native desktop app
- Syncs across Mac and iPhone/iPad
- Harder to learn than Bento
- Designed more for businesses than individuals
Notion is an all-in-one workspace that combines note-taking, database management, and project planning. Although it’s not just a database application, it’s ideal for creating personal databases on a Mac.
Its flexibility and customizable templates make it suitable for both personal and professional use.
Notion allows you to provide databases, collaborate with others, and can also integrate with other third party tools.
Like Bento, there are lots of database templates to get you started including a Personal Finance Tracker, Ultimate Habit Tracker and an Assignment Tracker.
You can request a demo of Notion to try it first.
Pricing: Free for individuals, Team plans start at $8/month
- All-in-one workspace for notes, databases, and project management
- Highly customizable and user-friendly
- Collaboration and sharing features
- Lots of database templates
- Learning curve for advanced features
- Expensive for business use
7. Zoho Creator
Zoho Creator allows users to create custom applications and automate workflows without any coding experience. Its integration with other Zoho apps also makes sense if your company or organization uses Zoho software.
Zoho Creator is aimed at enterprises rather than individuals but if you’re already familiar with Zoho products, it’s worth checking-out.
You can try Zoho Creator for free.
Pricing: Plans start at $10 per user per month
- Extensive database and app-building capabilities
- Integration with other Zoho apps
- No coding experience required
- Complexity for beginners.
- Pricing can add up with add-ons.
Quip is a collaborative platform known for real-time document editing and sharing.
While it may not be a traditional database tool, it’s excellent for collaborative projects and document management.
It’s especially valuable for businesses, with seamless Salesforce integration.
Pricing: Plans start at $10 per user per month.
- Real-time collaboration and document sharing.
- Integrates with Salesforce for businesses.
- Simple and intuitive interface.
- Limited database features.
- May not be suitable for complex data management.
Coda re-imagines documents by allowing you to create interactive documents with tables, charts, and forms.
It’s an excellent choice for those who want to combine the power of databases, project management, and document editing in one place.
Coda isn’t designed for beginners and requires a certain amount of database and coding knowledge to use but also now offers AI to assist in creating databases.
You an try a demo of Coda.
Pricing: Plans start at $10 per user per month.
- Interactive documents with tables, charts, and forms.
- Collaboration and automation features.
- No need for multiple apps.
- Learning curve for advanced use
- Limited free version
10. Panorama X
Panorama X for Mac has been around since 1988 is designed for analyzing large amounts of information by combining spreadsheet and databases.
Panorama X is quite dated nowadays but is still very popular among those that want a DIY offline database software.
Panorama X is RAM based which means it runs entirely in your Mac’s memory for faster performance.
While this was an advantage before Macs had SSD drives (because a Mac’s RAM is faster than mechanical drives) now that all Macs have internal SSD drives it’s less of a selling point.
However, it’s still a very nimble and powerful desktop alternative to Bento that can import Bento CSV files plus TSV and JSON formats.
You can start using a free trial of Panorama X.
Pricing: Starts at $15 per month but goes down to $5 per month for longer commitment periods
- Works entirely in your Mac’s RAM for fast performance
- Supports importing CSV, TSV and JSON
- Multi-level undo function
- Ideal for visualizing databases graphically
- Very dated now
- SSD drives are just as fast as RAM based apps nowadays
- Technical for beginners
Free Alternatives To Bento For Mac
While many of the Bento alternatives we’ve reviewed offer a basic free version, there are some completely free alternatives database software for Mac too.
Note that many of these apps are poorly maintained and may not work on Apple Silicon Macs or the latest version of macOS.
Some of them also require knowledge of how to use SQL or mySQL.
Here are some of the best free and open source alternatives to Bento for Mac: