Microsoft Access for Mac doesn’t exist so we’ve taken an in-depth look at the best Microsoft Access for Mac alternatives which can edit and open MDB databases on Mac. These applications can open and perform editing of MDB databases including OS X 10.11 El Capitan and OS X 10.12 Sierra and are best alternatives to MS Access on Mac. Note that Microsoft has never released a version of Access for Mac and there is no such thing as a free trial of it, Student Edition or the 2010 edition for Mac either. Here’s our reviews of the best alternatives to Microsoft Access for Mac.

Microsoft Access For Mac: Best Alternatives

These applications can open and edit Access database files on Mac. Note however that none of them allow you to view forms, reports or VBA modules but most of them allow you to view tables and export them to other formats such as CSV and SQL. Some of them even allow editing of Access files if you make in-app purchases.

Wizard ($79.99 Mac App Store)

Wizard for Mac is a superb alternative to Access on Mac that makes it incredibly easy to 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. It can also connect and import MySQL and PostgreSQL files. You can also import SPSS, SAS and Stata files although you must upgrade to the Pro version for this.

microsoft access for mac alternative - wizard

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.

Wizard is a refreshingly non-technical alternative to Access for 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.

microsoft access for mac - wizard for mac tutorial

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 OS X 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.

microsoft access mac - wizard

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 to Access for 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 buy 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”.

This is a very brief Wizard for Mac review but you can see more of it in action below:

MDB ACCDB Viewer ($18.99 Mac App Store)

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.access for mac -MDB ACCDB Viewer

Access Database Manager ($9.99 Mac App Store)

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. 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.microsoft access for mac - access database manager

MDB Tool – For Microsoft Access ($5.99 Mac App Store)

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.access for mac -MDB Tool

MDB Explorer ($4.99 Mac App Store)

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.

access for mac -MDB Explorer

ACCDB MDB Explorer ($18.99 Mac App Store)

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.

access for mac - ACCDB MDB Explorer

MDBLite ($1.99 Mac App Store)

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 $1.99, you haven’t got much to lose.

access for mac -MDBLite

 

FileMaker Pro ($329)

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. It’s a very elegant looking application and the latest version looks great in OS X.microsoft access for mac alternatives - filemaker pro

Over the years, FileMaker has been made increasingly user friendly and you there are now lots of slick template wizards to make your databases look good both on your Mac and iOS device.access for mac - filemaker pro

It allows you to customize databases however you want, produce reports, publish to the web and share databases over a network with up to 9 other FileMaker pro users. 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.access for mac - filemaker go

However, FileMaker is not as “transparent” as Access in the way it creates databases. For example, the tables in Filemaker are basically hidden from the user whereas in Access, it’s much easier to access them. The other main criticism of FileMaker Pro is the upgrade policy. Upgrades to the next version can be extremely expensive although many users happily stick with older versions until compatibility issues with newer versions of OS X mean they have no choice. It’s also quite dated now and even the latest version hasn’t been updated to take advantage of the features in Lion, Mountain Lion and beyond. Some users that manage very large databases may also find that it’s not quite as good at number crunching and processing huge amounts of data as Microsoft Access is. You can’t quite manage data with advanced queries as easily as you can with Access.

Filemaker Pro is still about as good as it gets on Mac for database creation but remember you’ll need to use one of the tools featured above to convert your Access database files first before importing them into FileMaker as it 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 below). There’s a 30 day free trial of Filemaker Pro for Mac users.

Actual ODBC Driver For Access ($39.95. Free Trial)

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.

microsoft access for mac - odbc access

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.

LibreOffice – Base (Free)

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. access for mac - libreoffice base

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. 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.

How To Install Microsoft Access On Mac

If none of these solutions help you and you simply must have MS Access on your Mac however, the only option is to use a virtual environment such as Parallels, install Windows on it and then install it. If you rely on ActiveX object macros, they will only work with Microsoft Access on PC and using Parallels to install the Windows version on your Mac will probably be your only solution. Installing Access on your Mac will also give you the freedom to create tables, queries, forms, and reports that you can connect with macros. If you know what you’re doing with Visual Basic, it will also allow you to create apps for advanced data manipulation just as if you were using Access on PC.

microsoft access for mac - parallels

If you want to go down this road, here can find clear and simple instructions about the Best Way To Run Windows on Mac.

You could also install Access On Mac using BootCamp which is free in OS X but this means you’ll need to reboot your Mac each time you want to use your Access database whereas Parallels allows you to use OS X and Windows in tandem.

Note that you cannot install Access on Mac using Crossover. There are tutorials videos that claim it is possible but they are misleading as Crossover specifically states on its website that it is known not to work with Crossover.

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s still life after Microsoft Access on OS X although we’ve still found nothing better than Wizard and Wizard Pro for as an alternative to Access for Mac. Although there really isn’t much data analysis and statistical software in general on Mac, Wizard is the best, most powerful and user friendly we’ve tried. However, if you just need to view an Access file on Mac, MDB ACCDBD Viewer is the most powerful and flexible tool you’ll find.

Further Reading

We hope this article shows you that there are plenty of ways to live without Microsoft Access for Mac. If you found this article helpful, you may also find the following articles interesting:

If you have any other questions, problems or experiences you’d like to share with the alternative MS Access software for Mac covered in this article, please leave them below.

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5 Responses

  1. Best Restaurant POS For Mac Reviewed

    […] based on FileMaker Pro – a powerful database software for Mac that is the closest equivalent to Microsoft Access on Mac. PayGo is designed for small businesses of all kinds and FileMaker Pro gives it the power to track […]

    Reply
  2. John Li

    We have a new Mac App named ‘Access Database Manager’, it works great on Mac, and it even allow you edit the data directly on Mac with in-app product.

    Reply
    • MacHow2

      John, Thanks for the news. We’ve taken a look at it and it looks pretty good, especially the ability to edit Microsoft Access files on Mac which most apps don’t do. We’ve added it to the article.

      Reply
  3. Scott Lawton

    +1 for MDB ACCDB Viewer. The developer also ships a very useful Postgress DB viewer called Postico.

    Reply

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