What steps do I need to take to get Esri .gdb files functioning in QGIS?

I'm a QGIS user running v2.0 (Dufour) on Mac OSx 10.8.5. I have some data in .gdb format and need to access this and work with it in QGIS. I'm a relatively savvy computer user, but not at all a programmer or developer. I've been reading the forums and have seen some steps outlined for GDAL installs etc., and compiling etc., but am a bit daunted and don't want to mess something up on my system.

Alternately I could try to use GDB Flee or something like it, but not sure where to start.

  • Artwork21's answer below will work if you have OGR's FGDB driver installed. To check if you do, you can use the command line. Change to the directory where your FGDB is stored, then use ogrinfo -so <directory name>. For example if your FGDB is called gis_data the command to use is ogrinfo -so gis_data.gdb. If you have the driver installed you'll get a list of the feature classes, if not it will tell you the dataset is not recognized. Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 20:07
  • @HeyOverThere, When I installed QGIS Standalone Installer Version 2.0.1 (64bit), qgis.org/en/site/forusers/download.html, the OGR's FGDB driver must be included because I did install this separately.
    – artwork21
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 20:17
  • So, @HeyOverThere for a luddite, to access the command line in OSX I do what exactly? Thanks! I'm used to point & click navigating. I tried to access it in terminal, but I get a message: "No such file or directory"
    – KMT
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 20:22
  • So @artwork21, if I just did the usual install of 2.0, I won't have the FGDB driver?
    – KMT
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 20:40
  • @KMT, I did the 2.0.1 install with no additional driver install (driver install is not required).
    – artwork21
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 21:10

3 Answers 3


In the Add vector layer dialog select Directory radio button and you should see FGD as an option, see caption below:

enter image description here

Then just browse and select the .gdb directory through the browse window. You will then see a list of the feature classes within which you can select to add to your project.


If you don't have GDAL's File Geodatabase driver installed visit KyngChaos's page. Install the GDAL 1.10 framework, then the FGDB plugin. You'll need to download the FDGB API from ESRI as well. Once all those are installed you can install QGIS. Once QGIS is installed follow @artwork21's answer to actually access your data. Then call up the data's provider and yell at them for distributing it in a non-free, patent encumbered data format.

  • @ HeyOverThere Ok - have downloaded all three, but having difficulty with the FGDB API - it's unzipped, but when I look for my Library (from Finder, command-shift-G and type ~/Library, right?), The Application Support Folder has no GDAL folder. Ideas? Also, if there's a space in a directory name, can Terminal follow that path? I'm thinking not as my current directory has a space and it's not reading the second word. THanks!
    – KMT
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 1:10
  • @KMT - The easiest thing to do is copy the files you need to where they need to go. When you unzipped the file, it created a FileGDB_API folder. In that folder there are two import folders /include and /lib. Copy the contents of include to /usr/local/include and the contents of /lib to /usr/local/lib. Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 4:06
  • Can't seem to find my /local folder. Took a screenshot but not sure how to post here. Any ideas? Thank you!
    – KMT
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 18:02
  • @KMT check out this link for an overview of the OS X file system structure: gotofritz.net/blog/tutorials/unix-osx-folder-hierarchy Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 20:08
  • Ok! Finally have the option to add a FileGDB, but get the error - "Invalid data source" and something about an urecognized file type. Does this mean it was created in Arc9.x and isn't compatible? Argh.
    – KMT
    Commented Dec 20, 2013 at 22:55

Ok, not the best solution. But with a Mac running QGIS 2.0 it worked.

  1. install GPS Babel, available both for Win or Mac
  2. load the file Garmin gdb
  3. convert/save as Garmin gpx
  4. open on QGIS

It worked for me.

  • Garmin gbds are a completely different animal from Esri gdbs. The question's original wording and tags leave this open to confusion, so I suppose this answer might serve someone who stumbles across it. Typically Garmin files will be in the context of/with a GPS tag though.
    – Chris W
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 17:40

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