Arbitrary Thoughts

Working with Access Databases (.MDB files) on MAC OSX

Having switched to MAC and still trying to be a friendly person to people of other beliefs (and operating systems), I have been looking for the ideal solution to work with Access Databases on the MAC.

Searching Google mostly yielded advice to run Windows on a Virtual Machine or simply to also have a Windows Machine with Office installed and then just use Access to work with it… for so many reasons its not funny, I off course thought that would be equivalent to failing to have to resort one of these solutions.

Instead of making this a lengthy post about why and how, I will simply leave it as a recipe as I have come up with a simple, quick and easy solution that also happens to entirely free… and it doesn’t require you to open any command prompts, restart you machine or even call you computer saavy cousin, this is a 3 mins job you can do yourself… in a quick 4 easy steps !

1) Download and Install OpenOffice

2) Download and Install Actual ODBC Driver for Access

3) Configure the connection to your Database

  1. Run “ODBC Manager” (found in Applications/Utilities/)
  2. Navigate to “System DSN”
  3. Select “Add”
  4. Select “Continue”
  5. Enter “Name” and “Description” (Can be anything you wish, these values are only used for your convenience in the management of the connections)
  6. “Choose…” the MDB file from your local disc system
  7. Select “Continue”
  8. Select “Advanced  Language…”
  9. Remove the selection in the “Auto-detect language…” checkbox (VERY IMPORTANT, if you leave it selected you might not be able to read the data in the database)
  10. Select “Continue”
  11. Select “Test”
  12. Confirm that it reads “Test Completed Successfully” in the last line
  13. Select “Done”

4) Connect to your Database

  1. Start the OpenOffice from Applications.
  2. Select “Database” from the Welcome Screen.
  3. Select “Connect to an existing database” and select ODBC in the drop-down.
  4. Select “Browse” and select the database connection you created in previous step.
  5. Select “Next” and enter optional Username and Password (its possible you can skip this step).
  6. In the next screen you can either accept default or change the settings, this step is purely a convenience matter, so decide for yourself.

…and voila !!
You should now be able to both access and manage your data in your Access Database on your MAC OSX… and you managed to do it in less than 5 minutes and it cost you zero deniros !

Happy hacking…

PS. If you know of better or alternative ways to achieve the same result, please post it here and share with others… I know many people are facing this issue from time to time, and as you can see in this post, suffering needlessly since the solution is readily available and very simple.

** UPDATE – 3. Oct 2014 **

Since publishing this post in 2011, lots have changed, however seeing how many people actually come to this article, I want to point a better solution out than the one mentioned above.
It’s called MDExplorer and can be licensed for only 5USD, there is a free trial available.

** UPDATE – 29. Sep 2017  **
Lot’s have changed since the o.p. which was nearly a lifetime ago, please find plenty of great alternatives that are more up-to-date in the comments…  Cheers !


Introducing SmartSVN.. a better SVN client for MAC OS X

Having used Versions for some time and having come to MAC OS X platform only recently from Windows, I have really been missing the awesome shell integration of TortoiseSVN known from Windows. SubClipse made most of my updates seem easy, but I still found myself missing the shell integration on a daily basis…

Nevertheless, having come to terms with this limitation much to my happiness I found the SmartSVN client after having watched a screen cast by Mr. Nate Bech (Senior Adobe Developer at T-Mobile USA).
SmartSVN is by far the best GUI based SVN client I have come across for the MAC OS X platform so naturally I want to post a note about it in a hope to guide others in a similar situation.


Check it out…


The Unarchiver… so much better…

How substandard can a expect build-in applications to be when using the default system utilities wrapped with an operating system… having switched to Mac recently for my laptop needs, I begin to experience some of the more intricate aspects of the default installation package… e.g. is the ArchiveUtility more inept than a potatoepeeler for southpaws in unarchiving ZIP files…

Thank’s to John Olson and Steven Heintz for getting me along with such a simple thing…
…see they pointed me to The Unarchiver, which without making a big fuzz about it just unzips my files when I ask it to do it and then goes right back to sleep, just the way I like my utilities to behave.


Check it out…


Versions – Mac Subversion Client

For those on OS X who haven’t found Versions yet, it’s a great Subversion client for Mac.

At the moment the product is still in beta, each installation coming with a time limitation (usually replaced for free with another beta). Once released you’ll be able to buy Versions, unfortunately there’s no really info on what sort of price we can expect.

If you looking for a great GUI for Subversion for Mac, Versions is definitely worth downloading and take for a spin… however it’s going to take some effort to compete with Tortoise for Windows PC’s which still seems to be the best SVN client with a GUI.


Apple : Apple MacBook AIR

It looks amazing and I am now 99,9% sure that my next Laptop will be a Apple MacBook AIR… preferrably with the 64GB solidstate drive, but seeing the pricetag for this confguration might result in me not being so lucky.

Its the thinnest laptop I have seen since the Sony Vaio 505 which was only marketed in Japan and to my knowledge never made it to other markets (and if it did, at least never to Europe).

Check it out:


Mac vs. PC : Cool Mac Utils

Making the switch to Mac has required me to learn how to navigate in a completely different universe than the one found for the PC platform.

As one of the major differencies, it appears that the os-confusion relating to the Mac platform is much less diasporate than the one for Mac which in comparison seems more organized and less in conflict about how to do things… pretty obvious considering the homogenous nature of the Mac ecosystem.

One of the thoughts that keep appearing during mt crusade to climb up of the Windows hole I fell into 10 years ago, is that the Mac people are much more goal-oriented in comparison to the process oriented PC people. The basis for this thought appears to be the difference in the amount of time one has to allocate on tasks relating to merely support ones primary task: productivity in ones field. far it appears that the distance one has to cover in terms of the number of tasks and their respective duration is larger on PC than on Mac everntually making Mac a productive environment as I sooner get to the point of productivity on this platform than on Mac – however I am still not blind for the fact that I might still just be under strong inlfuence by the “hype” one has when switching from a classically skinned Win XP which had one had been forced to downgrade into as a result of a failed attempt to upgrade to Win Vista.

Anyways… I will use the opportunity of this blog entry to share to links to cool utils for the Mac OSX.

An overview of status bar plugins:

The Growl application which allows application developers to post events to a global (in respect to either the local machine of the LAN on which it resides):