I understand there are programs like OSGeo4W that allow windows users to work with Esri File Geodatabases, but is there something similar for Mac OSX 10.6?

  • You are going to need to give us more info. What steps have you followed?
    – Nathan W
    Commented Sep 23, 2012 at 23:24

6 Answers 6


OSGeo4W is, well, OSGeo "for Windows", so it is not what you are looking for.

I have not done it myself, but other people have, so I know it works.

I would recommend you

  1. get the KyngChaos binaries for QGIS
  2. compile the OGR FileGDB driver (which will produce a "dylib" file on the Mac)
  3. drop the dylib on the plugins directory of GDAL on the Mac. I believe this directory is /Library/Application Support/GDAL/PlugIns/$(GDALVER) according to the Kyngchaos documentation (very last line).

For #2, you will need to download the exact version of GDAL that is used by the Kyngchaos build you have. Instructions on how to create the dylib for filegdb can be found on the net.

I realize this is not for the faint of heart, it would be nice if somebody created a brew recipe for this. hint hint, anyone?


There is a much easier way now using Homebrew:

  1. Install Homebrew

  2. Go to the ESRI site and download the FileGDB API for Mac. After extracting, you will notice that there is a lib folder and an include folder.

  3. Copy the contents of the include folder to /usr/local/include and the lib folder to /usr/local/lib (this is basically "installing" the FileGDB API in your system)

  4. Install gdal using brew (pass the with-unsupported flag).

    brew install gdal --with-unsupported

That's it!

Optionally, if you want QGIS, install it using this Homebrew Science recipe.

  • the link to the arcgis website somehow requires login and password...
    – q9f
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 7:28
  • @donschoe that is ESRI's requirement. You can create an ESRI global account in the link below the login page - it is free Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:16
  • 1
    You can now download the FGDB API without logging in from this page: esri.com/apps/products/download/#File_Geodatabase_API_1.3
    – scw
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 21:33
  • @scw that link requires me to log in after choosing my package.
    – mkirk
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 23:13
  • I was able to get this to work, but I had to install the kyngchaos FGDB plugin from kyngchaos.com/software/frameworks#gdal_complete.
    – mkirk
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 23:48

From your problem description, it seems ok to just get the data out somehow.

Try GDB Flee, an online tool to convert GDBs into open formats.

  • The GDB github link has turned to be an invalid one : 503 Service Error. Could you update it?
    – enaJ
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:43

First, you'll have to compile GDAL with ESRI FileGDB support. Once you've done that, you can then use this build of GDAL in a KyngChaos build of QGIS. On your terminal:

# save your current GDAL so you can put it back if you want
cp /Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Versions/1.8/GDAL /Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Versions/1.8/GDAL_orig

# symlink the custom GDAL build to the place QGIS looks
rm /Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Versions/1.8/GDAL
ln -s ~/local/lib/libgdal.dylib /Library/Frameworks/GDAL.framework/Versions/1.8/GDAL

Thanks to @Ragi for the instructions to the Github gist.


OSGeo4W reads GDBs using GDAL/OGR which you can install on OS X via Macports or Kygchaos's binary distribution.


.gdb is the proprietary format for ESRI's geodatabases. For more information on how to access gdb look here

File Geodatabase (*.gdb) support in QGIS?

  • I guess I should of also added that I'm using a MAC so this plug-in won't work for me. Also, if you look at the data I listed above, a WHOLE bunch of files download. I'm not even sure what I'm looking at. Which one is the right one? Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 0:39
  • gdb is a geo-database. ESRI is using a modified ms-access schema to store and validate geographic data. The bunch of data (I assume inside a folder that ends in .gdb) is just tables that mean to work together somehow. Since your software cannot handle the file/folder you see all those files.
    – nickves
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 0:44
  • NYC open data and they using closed formats... It's open only for those who can buy arcgis
    – nickves
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 0:45
  • RATS! It can't be easy all the time! Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 0:58
  • @MikeGuillen Please indicate your OS next time.
    – R.K.
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 3:20

I finally got file geodatabases working on QGIS for Mac. Using the instructions on the readme file of Kyngchaos FileGDB plugin:

download and install FileGDB plugin from http://www.kyngchaos.com/software/frameworks#gdal_complete

download and unzip fileGDB API from resources.arcgis.com/content/geodatabases/10.0/file-gdb-api

Move the 2 .dylib files from the lib folder of the fileGDB API to the folder /Library/Application Support/GDAL/1.9/Libraries

start QGIS, add vector layer, select the source type as directory and ESRI FileGDB should appear right away.

  • This didn't work for me. I followed the instructions but ESRI FileGDB doesn't show up. I'm using Mac OS 10.8. I've tried with GDAL v1.9 and v1.10. Any suggestions?
    – djhocking
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 1:10
  • Are you sure you're adding a directory instead of a file? In order to add a gdb you need to choose "directory" when selecting the type of vector file to be added. Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 4:06

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