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7 Best Free (+Open Source) Database Software for Mac (2018)

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Read Time: 8 mins

Database software can help you to organize, track, and store information securely. Sure, you can use a spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets to store information, but if the information is complex or connected to other information in multiple ways, a spreadsheet may not be enough. Spreadsheets can also become unwieldy if you're dealing with large amounts of information.

Although database software can be helpful a good database program, such as Microsoft Access, can be expensive. But there are open source alternatives to a pricey database. In this article, I'll provide a brief overview of some of the best free database software tools for Macs.

What Is Database Software?

Simply put, database software allows you to store, maintain, and retrieve information. But there's nothing simple about databases. There are a wide variety of database types ranging from general purpose databases that can only be used along with a database querying language such as SQL to specialized databases with user-friendly GUIs and predesigned reports that are designed for a single purpose, such as keeping track of customers or keeping. 

Database softwareDatabase softwareDatabase software
Database software allows you to store, maintain, and retrieve information. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Specialized predesigned databases are growing in popularity--and with good reason. They're easy to use and require no programming background. But if you own a business you may still have a need to invest in a single database software that lets you keep multiple types of records, design your own reports, and integrate with your other software tools.

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Envato Elements CoursesEnvato Elements CoursesEnvato Elements Courses
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In this article, we're going to look at the type of database software for Macs that allows you to store various types of information as well as customize it to meet your needs and also to integrate with other types of software you may have.

10 Features of Good Database Software

Now that you've decided you need database software for your Mac, you want to make sure that the software you select meets your needs. Here are some characteristics of good database software to look for:

  1. Filters information. A good database filter lets you specify not only the information you want, but also the information you don't want.
  2. Searchable. The Mac database software should include a search tool so that you can find a single record or group of records quickly.
  3. Report features. The software should allow you to design and print your own reports, drawing information from one or more tables.
  4. Combine information. You should be able to combine several types of information in a report or search.
  5. Updates. The database should have an update form so that you can update large amounts of information easily.
  6. Export. It should be able to export data to other formats. Being able to export data to a spreadsheet, or other software tool, can be extremely useful.
  7. Includes backups. Any time you store information online, you want the ability to be able to back it up. Backups protect you from losing information.
  8. Secure. Your free database software for Macs should have some built-in security features or give you the option to add your own security.
  9. Support. Database tools can be quite involved, so it's good to look for one that has some support features such as an active community, tutorials, and so on.
  10. Documentation. As you're setting up your Mac database, you'll want good user documentation to help answer questions and walk you through the process.

Of course, your own selection criteria for a Mac database might be different. If you're selecting a free or open source database tool for the Mac, be sure to research it carefully and thoroughly and develop your own list of must-haves.

How to Use This List

The following list of free and open source database software for the Mac provides overviews only. You'll want to use the list as a starting place for conducting your own research to find the right Mac database software for your needs. 

Remember, a database that works well for someone else might not be right for you. If you're looking for open source or free database software for the Mac it's a good idea to get your database developer and administrator involved. A basic knowledge of database query languages may be needed to get the most from your Mac database tool.

Note: There are many different database tools. Also, many people are using databases on their Macs, such as FileMaker Pro, that aren't on this list because the latest version isn't free or open source. In some cases, databases aren't included on the list because they no longer support the Mac as well as they once did.

7 of the Best Database Tools for Macs

Here's an overview of some of the best free and open source database software tools for Macs. I've also included a few personal database tools as well. 

1. SQLite 

SQLite databaseSQLite databaseSQLite database

SQLite's code is in the public domain, which makes it free for commercial or private use. This relational database management system is one of the most popular database engines out there, with literally billions of deployments. SQLite is known for its reliability, with an international team of full-time developers. It also includes documentation through the SQLite website as well as discussion boards to answer support-type questions.



This popular open source database system is an object-relational database. POSTGRESQL has an active community, which provides users with support and documentation. There are also POSTGRESQL events and user groups that provide further opportunities for learning. This database also has a reputation for being reliable. It's frequently updated and attempts to conform to SQL standards unless conforming would lead to poor architecture.

3. MongoDB 


MongoDB is a leading NoSQL database with millions of users. It's licensed under the Free Software Foundation's GNU AGPL v3.0 license, making it open source. However, the company also offers commercial licenses for MongoDB, so that's an option too. MongoDB has an encrypted storage engine. The user manual for MongoDB is licensed under Creative Commons. This popular database has user groups, white papers, as well as other types of support.

If you're interested in learning more about MongoDB, you may find this tutorial helpful:

4. CouchDB 

CouchDB databaseCouchDB databaseCouchDB database

CouchDB is open source software with an active community that's provided documentation and other guidance for users. There's even helpful CouchDB chats available through Freenode IRC network and Slack. It's a NoSQL (non-relational) database that uses JSN to store data. It's also a single node database that can be upgraded to a cluster if need be. You can store data on your own servers or on the cloud. 

5. FoundationDB


FoundationDB is a NoSQL database known for reliability that was acquired by Apple several years ago. In April of 2018, it became open source. Distributed systems are one of the ideas behind this database application. It uses multi-model data store methodology that has the capability of storing different types of information in one database. FoundationDB already has an active user community as well as online documentation. It's likely we'll see more of this database in the future.

6. Airtable 


Airtable describes its software as "part spreadsheet, part database." If you're looking for an easy-to-use database application this might be the right one for you. Airtable offers both a free and premium version of the software. The free version is pretty powerful, allowing you to create unlimited bases with up to 1,200 records per base. The free version also includes rich field types. There's a variety of views available as well including: grid, calendar, form, kanban, and gallery. Plus, it includes real-time collaboration and commenting. If you want to try this database out, it's worth a look. If your business is small or starting out, the free version may be all you need.

7. LibreOffice Base

LibreOffice BaseLibreOffice BaseLibreOffice Base

LibreOffice base is actually a database front end, but it's worth including on this list because it's free, maintained by The Document Foundation. For some businesses, this may be just what they're looking for. LibreOffice base draws upon a lot of popular database engines such as MySQL/MariaDB, MS Access, and PostGresSQL. Plus, it includes an HSQL relational database engine. If you're already using LibreOffice, you'll like the fact that it integrates well with other LibreOffice suite tools.


We've just taken a quick look at some of the best free and open source database software out there for the Mac. If you're looking for free or open source database software for your Mac, you'll want to take a closer look at some of these options. As you select your Mac database software tool, remember that software needs vary. So, make your database software selection carefully.

Do you use free or open source Mac database software? Which database tools do you use?

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