SQL Server Management Studio on a Mac, Workarounds, and Alternatives

As a Mac user, managing SQL Server databases can be challenging, especially when it comes to using the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) tool. SSMS is a Windows-only application that allows database administrators to manage and configure SQL Server instances. Fortunately, there are several workarounds and alternatives to using SSMS on a Mac.

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a graphical user interface tool developed by Microsoft for managing and configuring SQL Server instances. It provides a wide range of functionality, including database development, administration, and maintenance tasks. SSMS allows users to create and manage databases, run queries, view and edit data, and configure security settings, among many other tasks. It is a critical tool for database administrators, developers, and other professionals working with SQL Server. While SSMS is a Windows-only application, there are several alternatives and workarounds available for Mac and Linux users.

  1. Use a Virtual Machine

One option for Mac users is to run a virtual machine (VM) with a Windows operating system installed. This allows you to install SSMS and use it as you would on a Windows machine. However, running a VM requires a lot of resources and can be slow and cumbersome. If you choose to run Windows on a Mac, I would recommend using Parallels Desktop. It runs very well on both Intel and Apple Silicon Mac.

  1. Use Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio is a cross-platform database tool that runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS. It provides many of the same features as SSMS, such as querying databases, managing objects, and debugging code. Azure Data Studio also supports SQL Server on-premises and in the cloud.

  1. Use SQL Operations Studio

SQL Operations Studio is a free, cross-platform database tool that provides a modern, lightweight alternative to SSMS. It is based on Visual Studio Code and provides a similar interface, making it easy for developers to switch between the two tools. SQL Operations Studio supports SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

  1. Use a Third-Party Tool

There are several third-party tools available that provide database management capabilities for SQL Server on a Mac. These tools range from simple query editors to full-fledged database management suites. Some popular options include DBeaver, TablePlus, and SQLPro Studio.

  1. Use the Command Line

Finally, Mac users can manage SQL Server instances using the command line. This requires learning SQL Server commands and syntax, but it can be a powerful and flexible way to manage databases. The command line interface can be accessed using Terminal on macOS.


In conclusion, managing SQL Server on a Mac can be challenging, especially when it comes to using SSMS. However, there are several workarounds and alternatives available that can make the process easier. Whether you choose to use a virtual machine, a cross-platform tool like Azure Data Studio or SQL Operations Studio, a third-party tool, or the command line, there are many options for Mac users to manage SQL Server databases effectively.

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