What is ODBC in relation to FileMaker?

ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) is a standardized database interface that allows access to other databases via SQL. ODBC drivers are available for many different database systems. ODBC drivers are managed under Windows and Mac OS X within an ODBC administrator area. FileMaker includes an ODBC interface, with which it is possible to access other database systems directly from FileMaker and use the remote data tables as an external data source in FileMaker.

Setting up an ODBC data source

To set up ODBC data sources, an installed administration program for ODBC data sources is required on Windows and MacOS.

ODBC administrator under Windows

Under Windows this software is already available on the system side. To start the ODBC administrator, for example, simply enter “ODBC” in the Windows 10 search field and then select the entry “Set up ODBC data sources”. This will open the ODBC administrator for setting up new ODBC data sources.

ODBC administrator on the Mac

Since Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” Apple no longer ships ODBC administrators with the operating system. Therefore the software must be installed later to add ODBC data sources. One of these programs is the free ODBC Manager, which can be downloaded from the following URL


Click on “Download ODBC Manager” on the odbcmanager.net website to download the software to your Mac. Make sure that your security settings in System Preferences under [Security] are set to “no restrictions” to be able to install the software on your system. Activate the DMG image of the ODBC manager and start the installation program.

Confirm the dialogs of the installation program and click on the button [Install] to install the ODBC Manager on your Mac.

Download ODBC connector for database

With the ODBC Manager you now have the possibility to install any ODBC drivers (ODBC connectors) to access remote databases. ODBC-Connectors are available for many different database systems such as MySQL, Oracle, MS SQL, IBM DB/2 and many other systems. In our example we will create a data source for MySQL – the database system on which many web systems and online stores are based.

To download an ODBC connector for MySQL databases, enter the following URL in your web browser:


In the field [Select Platform] select your operating system if necessary and download the ODBC-Connector suitable for your operating system version. If possible, select the version “DMG Archive”. No registration is required for the download; simply select the URL “No thanks, just start my download” on the download page.

Activate the downloaded DMG image and start the installation by clicking the installation program.

During the installation, the administrator password of your Mac may be requested. After successful installation, you can start setting up the ODBC connector in the ODBC Manager.

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About Author

Markus Schall
Development of FileMaker databases since 1994, modification and extension of FileMaker solutions, conversion of FileMaker databases from .fm, .fp3, .fp5 (FileMaker 2-6) or .fp7 (FileMaker 7-11) to .fmp12 (FileMaker 12-17), interfaces to third-party systems such as online shops, CMS or other databases. Development of individual FileMaker database systems based on the gFM business framework with personal advice from Oldenburg. Operator of the online specialist portal goFileMaker.de, developer of the CRM and merchandise management system gFM-Business. Member of FileMaker Business Alliance, FileMaker Developers Subscription and FMM Expert. Winner of an FMM Award 2011, awarded by the FileMaker Magazine.