SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a free integrated tool that allows you to access, configure, manage and administer all components of the SQL server, Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure Synapse Analytics.  

Generally, SSMS only runs on Windows, but there are two ways you can install it on Mac. 

What Is an SQL Server Management Studio?

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is a free integrated tool that allows you to access, configure, manage and administer all components of the SQL server, Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure Synapse Analytics. While it only runs on Windows, it can be installed on a Mac either using a virtual machine or via Docker.

The first way is to install a virtual machine (VM) using programs like VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop, etc. Then you’ll install Windows onto that VM, which requires a payment for the license, and finally, you’ll use the VM to install SSMS. 

The second option is to install the SQL server using Docker. Microsoft provides Azure Data Studio as a graphical user interface to run the SQL server on Mac. This article covers the second option.

Docker is a tool designed to make the creation, deployment, and running of applications by using containers much easier. Below are the following steps to run SSMS on Mac.

steps in downloading sql server management studio on mac
Steps required to install SQL server management studio on Mac. | Image: Dhilip Subramanian


How to Install SQL Server Management Studio on a Mac

7 Steps for Installing SQL Server Management Studio on Mac

  1. Download and install Docker.
  2. Download the MS SQL server image to Docker.
  3. Launch the SQL server image in Docker.
  4. Install the MS SQL CLI.
  5. Test the installation.
  6. Download and install the GUI application — Azure Data Studio.
  7. Closing and restarting.


Step 1: Download and Install Docker

Download docker on Mac. Then you’ll select whether to download it to a Mac with an Intel chip or an Apple chip. In this example, we have used an Intel chip, hence the downloaded intel docker “.dmg” file.

Download Docker with intel chip or apple chip
Display of options for downloading Docker on Mac with an Intel chip or Apple chip. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

Once you’ve downloaded the “.dmg” file on your Mac, you can drag and drop it into your applications folder. 

drag and drop docker to download it in applications
Drag Docker to your applications folder to install. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

Then open the docker application.

run a sample container on mac screenshot
Open the Docker application on Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

By default, docker allocates 2 GB of memory, and an SQL server needs 3.25 GB to run, so we need to increase the memory to 4 GB in Docker. To do that, go to settings, then preferences, then select the “Resources” screen and slide the memory slider up to at least 4 GB. Click “Apply & Restart.”

screenshot of the docker settings screen on mac
Increase the memory settings to 4 GB. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian


Step 2: Download the MS SQL Server Image to Docker

Open the terminal in the Mac and run the following code. This will install the 2022 MS SQL Server image on your device.

sudo docker pull mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2022-latest

docker code to run on Mac
Code to run MS SQL Server image on your Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian 

Once we run the above command, Docker will start extracting the image from the web and downloading the same into your local machine. The Docker image will become visible in the docket desktop window, as shown in the below image.

screenshot of docker running on a mac
Screenshot of Docker running on a Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian


Step 3: Launch the SQL Server Image in Docker

Run the following command in the terminal again to launch the image that was downloaded in Docker:

docker run -d --name sql_server_test -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y' -e 'SA_PASSWORD=dockerStrongPwd123' -p 1433:1433 mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2022-latest

  • -d: Launches the docker container in daemon mode, allowing it to run in the background without a terminal window open.
  • --name: Sets a name for the Docker container. In this example, we are using sql_server_test.
  • -e 'ACCEPT_EULA=Y': Confirms by agreeing with end user license agreement (EULA) for Docker.
  • -e 'SA_PASSWORD=dockerStrongPwd123': Sets the database password. In this example, we are using "dockerStrongPwd123'' as the password. In general, I recommend using a strong password
  • -p 1433:1433: Maps the container to the local port 1433. Default TCP port that SQL Server uses to listen for connections.
  • mcr.microsoft.com/mssql/server:2022-latest: Selects an image file for Docker to use.

Once the above command runs successfully, go to Docker desktop and select the container option. Then look for the container “sql_server_test” as we mentioned in the above command.

containers running on docker screenshot
Screenshot of containers running on Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

From the above we can see the container “sql_server_test” is running.


Step 4: Install the MS SQL CLI

We need to install sql-cli via npm. Before proceeding, npm should be installed on the Mac. If not, download npm now.

Run the below command on your terminal. 

$ npm install -g sql-cli    

If you get permission error, use the  command below:

$ sudo npm install -g sql-cli


Step 5: Test the Installation

Once you’ve installed the sql-cli, test it by logging in using the command below:

$ mssql -u sa -p

After giving my password, here is the command:

$ mssql -u sa - p dockerStrongPwd123

Then run select @@version to verify the connectivity in the terminal.

code screenshot showing that sql server management studio is working
Code indicating that the SQL Server is running on your Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

If you get the above message, congratulations — the SQL server is up and running on your Mac. You can now go ahead and run SQL queries against the SQL server.


Step 6: Download and install the GUI application - Azure Data Studio

We need to install a graphical user interface (GUI). For that, we’ll download Azure Data Studio. Azure Data Studio is available on Mac as well as on Windows because SSMS won’t work on Mac. 

From the above link you will be able to download the zip file. Unzip and open the Azure Data Studio. Once you’ve done so, select a new connection and give it the below credentials.

Server - > localhost

Username -> sa

Password - > dockerStrongPwd123

Then click connect. We have to enter the username and password that we used in step five.

screenshot of azure data studio running on Mac
Screenshot of Azure Data Studio running on your Mac. | Screenshot: Dhilip Subramanian

As soon as you get the connectivity via the Azure Data Studio, you can run your SQL queries and get your work done.


Step 7: Closing and Restarting

Once you complete your work, you can save your progress and quit the workspace. Enter the mssql prompt [press ctrl+c] and stop the running Docker container using the docker stop command. If you want to re-open it, restart the existing docker container and start the SQL server via the terminal giving your username and password.

$ mssql -u sa -p dockerStrongPwd123

Then open Azure Data Studio once again and continue your work.

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