I am 100% Mac now, but have an important Microsoft Access database on an old PC. Every few months I have to break it out to get into the database. What are my cheapest options for liberating myself from my PC and getting full access to the database on my Mac? I'd love to make it web-accessible to myself and chosen others, but that's not necessary.


7 Answers 7


OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free, open source Microsoft Office clones. They are available on all platforms and OS's. Both have the ability to open and save Microsoft Office documents, as well as many other formats.

LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice, and I personally like it better than OpenOffice.

Both Open and LibreOffice can open the Microsoft Access file directly without any conversion necessary. Just copy the file somewhere accessible to your Mac and you are good to go.

  • 1
    Could you also provide information specific to the user's question, i.e. how to actually go and replace Access with Open/LibreOffice. How much can he keep, all of it?
    – Daniel Beck
    Aug 24, 2011 at 17:16
  • 1
    Here, LibreOffice does not work with an .accdb file. Base can not import the file. Dragging the file to LibreOffice imports the data to Writer, the result is not useful. Jul 30, 2014 at 23:27
  • LibreOffice can only open Access databases when running on Windows, so this solution is no use if you don't have access to Windows in the first place. Jul 11, 2015 at 16:36

There is no full replacement for Microsoft Access on the Mac.

Possible options are:

  • LibreOffice, as suggested by others, contains the "Base" module, which is more or less an incomplete clone of Microsoft Access. Depending on your use case, you might be missing many critical features. Even basic stuff like import/export is very limited in LibreOffice. LibreOffice on the Mac can not open Access databases.
  • FileMaker is a very comprehensive database application that can do most things possible in Access. It is, however, pretty expensive. Filemaker has the advantage of being available for Windows as well. Migrating from Access to Filemaker is not trivial, and you will have to recreate most forms etc. There are several websites that offer migrating Access databases to FileMaker for you for a fee. If you want to share databases with others, you can use Filemaker server to do that.
  • Bento is a low-cost and more intuitive database app from the same company as Filemaker. Again, you will need to recreate most of your database design, there is no direct import of Access databases.
  • SQLite is a free, bare database engine included with Mac OS X. Most people will prefer using it with a graphical client like Base from Menial. SQLite is only an SQL engine, there are no forms or fancy user interfaces like in Access.

For reading Access databases, you can use MDB Viewer for Mac. (Disclaimer: I am the developer of MDB Viewer). However, this app only allows you to read tables, and does not support queries or forms, or editing databases.

In the documentation on my website I have compiled a more detailed list of MS Access alternatives on the Mac, along with instructions how to migrate from Access.

  • +1 for MDB ACCDB Viewer doing what LibreOffice can not with an .accdb file. Thank you. Jul 30, 2014 at 23:28
  • +1 for MDB / ACCDB Viewer. Purchased, instantly works and unblocked me. Thank you Jacob
    – Chris M
    May 12 at 15:33

Use Darwine. I use it for an Access 2003 database once a month, and don't gotta boot into windows at all :) Plus it looks integrated, and runs Access natively


There is also Bento and filemaker which are Mac database programs. They should be able to import Access databases, but they're not free.


Neo Office is a full-featured set of office applications for Mac OS X. It was created almost ten yrs ago when there was no Open Office for Mac available. Its offers a better alternative to the likes of OpenOffice & Libre Office. (Whatever they can do, Neo Office can do it more natively on a Mac).

Moreover while Open Office and Libre Office now have their own Mac OS X versions, the developers of Neo Office continually add improvements to NeoOffice that our Mac OS X users will not find in Open Office or Libre Office such as:

Extremely stable Mac OS X code that has been in daily use by hundreds of thousands of Neo Office users since 2003

Mac OS X Versions and Full-Screen mode

Significant speed improvements to the OpenOffice text layout, rendering, and printing code

Native Mac OS X text highlighting

Native file locking support for local and networked volumes

Mac OS X Services support

Native floating tool windows

It can be downloaded from here:


They have now introduced a mobile version which allows you to access and share your Neo Office documents from anywhere.


No need to port an Access database, just open it natively on your Mac with Neo Office.

  • Here, LibreOffice does not work with an .accdb file. Base can not import the file. Dragging the file to LibreOffice imports the data to Writer, the result is not useful. Jul 30, 2014 at 23:29

I am doing the migration from a MDB database to MySQL doing some transformations and data validation on the way and the best tool for me right now is Pentaho Kettle (Community Edition). It's free and you can load the MDB database as input, browse the table, make transformations on the data and output as CSV, SQL, TXT, ...


The easiest solution is to install Parallels (or some other Windows emulator) so you can run the Access app on your Mac. I have clients doing this, but I'm not thrilled with it. But for occasional access, it's perfectly satisfactory.

  • How is this the easiest and cheapest?! Purchasing and installing virtual machine software (VirualBox is the only free one I know of), not to mention the possibility of purchasing another Windows license. Then having to maintain the virtualized OS, whose sole purpose is to run Access. Makes much more sense to use free software that is Access compatible.
    – Keltari
    Aug 27, 2011 at 4:09
  • It's much easier to maintain a Windows emulator like Parallels than it is to port to Filemaker (the only alternative that matches the scope of Access and runs natively on the Mac). And I didn't say anything about "cheapest" as I don't know the relative prices of the relevant software. I suspect that Filemaker Pro is more expensive than Parallels, but I don't know that for a fact -- which is why I DIDN'T MENTION IT. Aug 30, 2011 at 21:18

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