I am used to using FileMaker on a friend's computer, but I don't have it on mine, and at the moment I can't afford to buy it. Is there anything free out there that is similar?

I am in the process of making a database of job applicants on Excel and it is getting rather large and complicated. I like the way you can change from list view to document view on FileMaker.

OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard

  • Try LibreOffice and similar – user151019 Oct 6 '13 at 13:53

I feel your pain. I've not found a single app equivalent to MS Access for the Mac. There are some decent online services like Zoho Creator (free) and TrackVia (not free) but if you MUST have something very close to Access or FileMaker installed on your Mac natively, I can offer the following suggestion.

  1. On the Mac, you can install and run MySQL. That'll be your database engine. Installation is beyond the scope here but there's tons of help via Google search. Alternatively, you can use a separate computer or virtual machine (on your local network) with MySQL installed.

  2. To design new MySQL databases like a pro, download and install the free MySQL Workbench. http://www.mysql.com/products/workbench/

  3. Building reports as good as FileMaker's or MS Access was a difficult find for a long time until I ran across the free Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) built into versions of Eclipse. I opted for the development kit version - an enormous 220 meg download, but worth it. Check into it here: http://www.eclipse.org/birt/phoenix/

BIRT can connect to a variety of data sources and is intended as a Java application reporting tool, but it will also render/export reports in a lot of formats including PDF and DOC. It's every bit as good as the report builder in MS Access.

PLEASE NOTE: BIRT requires a pretty significant learning curve but you will not regret it. The thing blows my mind all the time because it is so mature of a product. Like it knows what you want to do. There's lots of tutorials for BIRT on the Eclipse page above. You'll need them.

If you desire to use a BIRT defined report in a web application, good luck. I'm not very fluent with the Java web platform. I just haven't had the patience or need.

All in all, this combination of MySQL, Workbench, and BIRT is the closest thing I've come to that makes me feel like I have a good native database on the Mac.

All the best.


There are lots of free databases similar to FileMaker.

  1. Wavemaker

  2. VFront

  3. Kexi

  • Downvote: You need to explain what the capabilities and limitations of these are. Wavemaker seems to be cloud/web based. Vfront is entirely web based. Kexi is not fully a mac app -- it requires a X-windows port – Sherwood Botsford Sep 1 '18 at 21:42

FREE - Open Office has a database that is useable and you can build FORMS, and VIEWS of your data as well as table views, queries, reports, etc. It is an MS-Access alternative and there is a version of it for OS X. You will need to have a Java Runtime installed to use the database functions. This should not be a big deal as JAVA RUNTIME packages are easy to install and available for Mac.

Best of all - FREE!

  • Hmm. Last time I tried open office my time between crashes / freezes was measured in minutes. Does it really run on mac? – Sherwood Botsford Sep 1 '18 at 21:43

Kexi is not MAC!!!!! VFront, who knows. Looks like a kluge of an interface for MySQL. There are plenty of SQL apps on the App Store, if you want to fool around with that crap. Still checking our Wavemaker, looks like you have to run from their servers and deal with other difficulties, if you want to run locally.

The reason Filemaker works so well, is that you don't have to be a propeller head to use it. The moment you want me to start installing servers on my Mac, etc. it becomes PAINFUL.

Plug and play.

Glad you are into that kind of thing, but all of these seem like they are more of a headache than something your secretary can learn in one hour, like Filemaker.


Open Office has a database for MAC OS X. I run it all the time. Looks like Access - openoffice.org from Sun.


Tap Forms is also a Mac database app you can try. It's not free, but it's much cheaper than FileMaker Pro and it has iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch versions. You also don't need to be a programmer or know anything about databases to use it. You can build custom layouts, add relationships between forms, perform calculations on your data, print reports, barcodes, and labels and a host of other things.

Full disclosure, I am the developer of Tap Forms. But don't take my word for it, go to www.tapforms.com and download the Mac trial and try it out for yourself.


Mac and iOS users might want to look into the Ninox Database. At $35 for the Mac version, it is far cheaper than Filemaker and the iPhone and iPad versions are free.



MAMP https://www.mamp.info now includes SequelPro, a front end for mySQL. This is a heavy weight solution - setting up an Apache Server and MySQL environment but it is also a simple, free, and effective solution. I used to use Filemaker but I was not using it enough to justify the licence and find Sequel Pro is nice programme to use with the benefit of learning mySQL - and if it does not do everything you need there are plenty of other mySQL front ends.

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