I've been unsuccessfully looking for a way to add data from a .mdb geodatabase into QGIS for mac. Using the add vector layer, .mdb is not available in the filetypes, and in the database connection I don't have a clue on how to connect to a database thats already in your hard drive.

Any help will be much appreciated.

  • gis.stackexchange.com/questions/29501/…
    – Mapperz
    Nov 15, 2012 at 21:32
  • Nope, I already read that thread. The problem I have is to add data from a .mdb file. Apparently they can be added easily on the Windows version, but no on the mac version. Nov 16, 2012 at 2:17
  • 2
    The primary problem is that .mbd is a proprietary Microsoft format that mostly only works on Windows. There is a project called MDH Tools that allows you to read .mdb files on 'nix platforms (including OSX although probably not too easy). mdbtools.sourceforge.net It looks like you can do it via gdal/ogr, but not by default, you still need mdbtools. I would suggest using gdal/ogr on a Windows box to export to a more useful format.
    – DavidF
    Nov 16, 2012 at 4:58
  • See gis.stackexchange.com/questions/73201/… for a solution using homebrew and Kyngchaos.com install.
    – dakcarto
    Nov 16, 2013 at 18:12

1 Answer 1


I run qgis on all three platforms (Mac OSX, Windows(XP and 7), and Linux (Ubuntu)). @DavidF is correct. Mac can not read .mdb by default because it is a proprietary format that Microsoft is not big on sharing and Apple does not want to pay to license. Installing the mdbtools is the answer to your problem. Be aware, it will not run like it does on a windows based system. Files you pull from the .mdb will not keep their names. instead you will see groups of folders with a number. inside of each folder will be an image file and some form of an aux file as well. You will be able to load these files then "save as" each one out of the .mdb.(I suggest creating an automated work flow to do that and label them as you load them later)

If you run into problems getting the mdb tools working try using homebrew. It took me about an hour to get it up and running personally. After all of that struggle I ask people to export everything out of ESRI databases before they send them to me (PostGIS FTW!) Best of Luck to you.

  • Any hints on getting mdbtools working with homebrew? brew install mdbtools gives Failed to execute: ./configure
    – Simbamangu
    Sep 7, 2013 at 6:26
  • I do not have any specific hints that are accross the board usfull. If you have textwrangler you can view the config file and make sure it has the correct headers and pathing etc. Other then that I would have to be their on your computer to help. I will try removing my current version of the tools and execute the most recent version sith home rew and see what happens.
    – G.Oxsen
    Sep 7, 2013 at 15:31
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    brew install mdbtools working fine now.
    – Simbamangu
    Nov 15, 2013 at 6:54
  • Glad to hear it! If you found my advice/info helpful I would appreciate it if you could check the answered icon on my answer. ( it is the check mark next to my answer ) Happy Mapping!
    – G.Oxsen
    Nov 16, 2013 at 8:32
  • OP was someone else ... would check it if I could!
    – Simbamangu
    Nov 16, 2013 at 15:45

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