Sql Manegement Studio For Mac

The Java-based Oracle SQL Developer has a plugin module that supports SQL Server. I use it regularly on my Mac. Here's how to install the SQL Server plugin: Run SQL Developer; go to this menu item: Oracle SQL Developer/Preferences/Database/Third-party JDBC Drivers; Click help. It will have pointers to the JAR files for MySQL, SQL Server, etc. SQLPro is a 100% native Mac app. This means it can and will outperform any of the other Java based database management interfaces.

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Years ago when I switched from Windows to Mac, people have told me regularily that I’m crazy. How can I be that stupid to work on MacOS when I’m dependent on SQL Server? In my case it wasn’t that terrible, because my main work is about content creation (writing blog postings, articles, presentations, training videos) and very often I was only connecting through a RDP connection to a remote SQL Server. Therefore running natively on MacOS was not a big deal for me, and for the last resort I always have a Windows VM which runs in VMware Fusion on my Mac.

But since the introduction of the Container concept through Docker and the possibility to run SQL Server directly in a Container, my life was changing even better. Because now I can run SQL Server 2017+ directly on my Mac and I even don’t really need a Windows VM anymore. In this blog posting I want to show you how you can do the same and run SQL Server directly on your Mac in a Docker container.

Installing SQL Server in a Docker Container

Before you can install SQL Server in a Docker Container on the Mac, you have to install and configure of course Docker itself. I don’t want to go into the details how to install Docker itself, because the necessary steps are very well documented.

Before you can create a Docker Container for SQL Server, you have to pull the correct Docker Image from the Docker Registry. In my case I have decided to try out the latest CTP version of SQL Server 2019:

docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2019-CTP2.1-ubuntu

When you have pulled the image, you can see it with the docker images command in your Terminal:

You can think about a Docker Image like an ISO file: it’s just an image, and you can’t run it directly, because you have to install it. Therefore we also have to “install” the pulled Docker Image. In Docker you can “install” an image by running it. And that creates the actual Docker Container, which is finally the exectuable that you are executing. Let’s run our Docker Image with the docker run command:

docker run -e ‘ACCEPT_EULA=Y’ -e ‘SA_PASSWORD=passw0rd1!’ -p 1433:1433 –name sql2019_ctp2 -d mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:vNext-CTP2.0-ubuntu

As you can see from the command line, you have to pass in a lot of different parameters. Let’s have a more detailed look on them:

  • -e ‘ACCEPT_EULA=Y’
    • With the -e option you set an environment variable, on which SQL Server is dependent on. In our case we have to accept the EULA to be able to use SQL Server.
  • -e ‘SA_PASSWORD=passw0rd1!‘
    • With the SA_PASSWORD environment variable we set the password for the SA login.
  • -p 1433:1433
    • With the -p option we bind a port on our host machine (in my case on the Mac) to a port in the Container. The port on the left side of the colon is the port on the host machine, and the port on the right side of the colon is the port in the Container. In my case I bind the default SQL Server port of 1433 within the Container to the port 1433 on my Mac.
    • Therefore I can directly access the exposed SQL Server Container through the IP address of my Mac on the network. If you have multiple SQL Server Containers, you can also bind them to different ports on your host machine to access them independently from each other.
  • –name
    • With the –name option we assign a custom name to our Docker Container.
  • -d
    • And with the -d option we specify the Docker Image that we have pulled previously, and that you want to run the Docker Container detached from the Terminal. This just means that you can close your Terminal, and your Docker Container is still running in the background.

After you have executed that Docker command, your Docker Container is up and running.

Accessing SQL Server on a Mac

We have now 2019 up and running in a Docker Container. But how do we access SQL Server? Of course, I can start up a Windows VM, and use SQL Server Management Studio to access SQL Server. But then I’m again dependent on a Windows VM, which also needs periodically updates, and it would be also a huge overhead to deploy a whole Windows VM just for SQL Server Management Studio…

Therefore let’s introduce Azure Data Studio! Azure Data Studio was formerly known as SQL Operations Studio and it is a client application with which you can manage SQL Server – natively on Windows, Linux, and Mac!!!

As you can see from the previous picture, I have connected here directly to localhost, because in the last step we have exposed the port 1433 of the Docker Container to our host machine. Don’t get me wrong: compared to SQL Server Management Studio, Azure Data Studio is “nice” but… 😉


But hey, I can run it directly on my Mac (without the need of a Windows VM), I can run SQL statements, I have access to Estimated and Actual Execution Plans, and very importantly – it’s extensible. What do I need more? For the kind of work that I’m doing, it’s enough.

Restoring your first Database

When you look back to the previous picture, you can see that you got a vanilla installation of SQL Server 2019. There are our system databases, the crazy default settings, and that’s it. There are of course currently no other database. So you have to create your own databases, or you take an existing database (maybe from a Windows-based SQL Server installation) and you restore it in your Docker Container. Let’s do that now.

In my case I want to show you now the necessary steps how to restore AdventureWorks in the Docker Container. First of all you have to copy your backup file into the Docker Container. But you can’t do a regular cp command from the Terminal, because that command has no idea about your Docker Container. Makes somehow sense…

Therefore your Docker installation offers you the command cp with which you can copy a local file into a Docker Container and vice versa. Let’s take now our backup of AdventureWorks and copy it into the folder /var/backups of our Docker Container:

docker cp AdventureWorks2014.bak sql2019_ctp2:/var/backups/AdventureWorks2014.bak

After you have copied the backup file, we can now restore the database. But the destination folders are different as on a Windows-based SQL Server installation, therefore we also have to move our data and log files. Therefore I have executed in the first step the following command to get the logical file names of our database backup.

RESTORE FILELISTONLY FROM DISK = ‘/var/backups/AdventureWorks2014.bak’

And based on that information, let’s perform now the restore of our database.

RESTORE DATABASE AdventureWorks2014 FROM DISK = ‘/var/backups/AdventureWorks2014.bak’


MOVE ‘AdventureWorks2014_Data’ TO ‘/var/opt/mssql/data/Adventureworks2014.mdf’,

MOVE ‘AdventureWorks2014_Log’ TO ‘/var/opt/mssql/data/Adventureworks2014.ldf’

As you can see I’m moving the data and log files into the folder /var/opt/mssql/data. And now we have our AdventureWorks database restored in our Docker Container.

When you are finished with your work in your Docker Container, you can stop the Container with the following command:

docker stop sql2019_ctp2

And with a docker start command, you can restart your Container again:

docker start sql2019_ctp2

In that case, all the changes that you have done in your Docker Container (like restoring the AdventureWorks database), are persisted across restarts.


Running SQL Server natively on a Mac or on Linux was always a huge April fool. But with the introduction of Docker, and the SQL Server support for it, it’s now real. You can now run natively SQL Server on the Mac, and with the help of Azure Data Studio you can even access SQL Server with a native MacOS application. We have really exiting times ahead of us!

Thanks for your time,


For the first time, SQL Server 2017 allows users to install the product on Linux. This opens the doors for working with fully-featured SQL Server database engines on MacOS through freely distributable Docker containers. With the addition of a new graphical user interface that's in public preview, Mac users can now leverage the same industry-leading database platform that has previously only been available to Windows users, all on their local computer. Let me show you how to get started in three easy steps.

1. Install Docker

The first step is to install Docker. Start at https://store.docker.com/editions/community/docker-ce-desktop-mac, and click the Get Docker button on the top right. That will download a disc image containing the application. Drag Docker.app into your Applications folder and give it a double-click to launch. Look for the Docker icon in the top menu bar. When the animation stops, Docker is ready to go. Step one: done.

2. Pull the SQL Server 2017 container

Next, start up Terminal.app. This is where you'll issue commands to Docker. Microsoft provides pre-configured images that include the Developer edition of SQL Server 2017 running on Ubuntu Linux. You can pull the most recent version with the following command.

After supplying your MacOS Administrator password, the image is downloaded.

Docker images need to be unpacked into containers, and a single image can be used to create as many identical containers as you'd like; just be sure to give them unique names. The following command will create a single container called 'sqlserver1' from the image you just downloaded. A couple of points:

  • Note that you'll want to provide your own strong password for the SQL Server System Administrator account. Just replace 'YourStrong!Passw0rd' with something better.

  • Port 1401 on the local computer will be forwarded to SQL Server's default listening port of 1433 inside the container. This will be important to remember later.

  • Make sure that you forward a different port to 1433 if you decide to create additional containers.

To verify that everything is working as intended, you can check the status of Docker's containers.

You should see a line for the container and, hopefully, a status of 'up.' If you see 'exited' here, go back and double check the previous commands were typed correctly. You can also try 'docker stop sqlserver1' followed by 'docker start sqlserver1' to reset the server. With the container now running, you're done with step two.

3. Install SQL Operations Studio

Sql Management Studio Alternative For Mac

Microsoft is in the beginning stages of developing a cross-platform graphical user interface for SQL Server called SQL Operations Studio. Though it's still in an early public preview, SQL Ops Studio is already showing promise as a robust, lightweight interface that brings the best of SQL Server Management Studio (a venerable workhorse, but sadly Windows-only) over to the Mac and Linux platforms. The Ops Studio GitHub page will be your source of information as the project progresses. Head over to the GitHub repository, scroll down to the first section of the readme and download the MacOS zip containing the latest stable preview.

Upon Operations Studio's first launch, the Connection window will automatically prompt you for login credentials. Use 'localhost' as the name of the server, 'SA' as the user name, and fill in the password that you established when the Docker container was created. Then press the Advanced button, and scroll through the properties list until you get to the General section. Fill in the port number of 1401 here, or whichever port you're passing to SQL Server's 1433 listening port. Press OK, then Connect.

That should connect, and pass you back to the main interface. If you've ever seen Visual Studio Code, then you'll instantly recognize the interface's clean and well-organized layout. On the left is a listing of servers you're connected to. Expand the server folder to explore databases, security items and so on.

You're now up and running with the SQL Server database engine running in a Docker container, and you can manage it with Operations Studio on your Mac!

Bonus step 4. Start working with your new SQL Database Engine

What good is a server without a database? Right-click the Databases folder, and choose New Query. In the SQLQuery1 tab, type in the following command.

Press the Run button to create your first database, which you should see pop up under the Databases folder. You might need to right-click the databases folder and choose Refresh if it doesn't show up immediately.

Operations Studio has a great feature called Snippets that help you quickly write common T-SQL commands. Clear out the CREATE DATABASE statement and change the Connection drop-down at the top to MyDatabase. Type 'sql' to see the list of included snippets presented in the IntelliSense popup box.

Arrow down to sqlCreateTable and press Return. Operations Studio fills in all of the T-SQL to help you create a table in the database.

Notice that all of the TableName placeholders are selected, ready for you to overwrite them with your own name. Type it once, and each one gets updated simultaneously. Press the tab key to move over to SchemaName and change that to 'dbo' (since we haven't created any other schemas at this point). Then all that's left is to modify the Column1 and Column2 placeholders on lines 10 and 11, choose appropriate data types, and add additional columns as needed.

Press the Run button when done to create your first table, in your first database, on your SQL Server instance, running on Ubuntu Linux, inside of a Docker container, on your Mac.

You're done!

Welcome from SQL Server 2017: Linux, Docker, and macOS by Adam Wilbert


Welcome from SQL Server 2017: Linux, Docker, and macOS by Adam Wilbert

Dig in deeper with my course SQL Server 2017: Linux, Docker, and MacOS

I go into way more detail on the process of working with SQL Server on these newly available platforms in my newest course here on LinkedIn Learning. In it, I demonstrate the process of setting up SQL Server on Linux, use the sqlcmd command line tool, dive deeper into Docker, and connect instances to and from other machines on the network. Or, for more information on how to use SQL Server now that you're up and running, check out Learn SQL Server 2017.

Sql Management Studio Training


Sql Management Studio Express

Adam Wilbert is a LinkedIn Learning / Lynda.com author of over forty courses on SQL Server, Microsoft Access, database design and development, and mapping with ArcGIS. Come say 'hi' on Twitter: @awilbert.