I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed working with a database GUI. For some reason, they’re not very fun programs to play around with or get excited about. Since we’re always on the look out for something good, I did a little research and found a list of MySQL interfaces to get your blood pressure rising:

  • Navicat: This wonderful program has become my interface of choice. Not only is it responsive and full of features, but it looks good too. My favorite features include tabbed browsing for all functionality, floating windows, and a solid data backup / transfer implementation. They offer a 30 day trial, so go check it out.

  • SQLyog: A program that definitely holds it’s own ground, SQLyog ranks high in the speed and efficiency department. Offers detailed tracking of all queries run and makes filtering table results painless. Available in free and enterprise versions.

  • MySQL Control Center: While it is no longer supported, this program is a perfect introduction to MySQL. If you’re new to the database world and don’t feel like spending any money, jump right in with this basic program.

And those are the three that I have personally used. There are tons more out there. Here are the ones I’ve noticed:

What GUI works best for you?

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Ryan Campbell

The Different Faces of MySQL by Ryan Campbell

This entry was posted 5 years ago and was filed under Notebooks.
Comments are currently closed.


  1. Andrew Ruess · 5 years ago


    Straight from the source. And frankly, one of the best designed MySQL GUIs I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. Tweaking with pMachine and ExpressionEngine MySQL databases over the past year on a Mac has been extremely easy and pleasant because of this tool.

  2. Andrew · 5 years ago

    And for OS X users, don’t forget “YourSQL”:http://yoursql.ludit.it/, which has been much more actively developed than CocoaMySQL in recent years and has a pretty nice “set of features”:http://justinfrench.com/index.php?id=108

  3. handband · 5 years ago

    All the programs listed are great. I would like to add one more:


    It is great if you need to import excel, access, and/or any db files.


  4. Brennen Florey · 5 years ago

    I’m surprised to not see phpMyAdmin mentioned amongst all these tools. What you loose in visual elegance you regain with no cost and the fact that its web-based. I find it handy to just have phpMyAdmin always open in a tab behind whatever database app I’m working on. It’s simple, pretty powerful and it always does the job.

  5. Brennen Florey · 5 years ago

    Now I see phpMyAdmin is listed. Wasn’t in the feed…

  6. Blaine Kendall · 5 years ago

    MySQL-Front is great. I think it might have been one of the first mysql front-ends written. There’s freeware versions out there (pre-3.0) as they now charge for it. Google for mysql-front and definitely download it. Very useful.

  7. Ryan Campbell · 5 years ago

    Sorry about that. Added phpMyAdmin just after I posted the article.

    Web based interfaces haven’t grown on me yet. It is interesting to see how you use it. I hate how desktop apps usually take up a good amount of resources, so I can see where web based ones would help.

  8. Jeremy Weiskotten · 5 years ago

    phpMyAdmin may be the most widely used because it’s frontend provided by most cheap “all-in-one” hosts that provide a MySQL database and PHP.

  9. Yannick L. · 5 years ago

    I use phpMyAdmin. I have found it rather easy to use.

  10. Jonathan Snook · 5 years ago

    The old MySQL Control Center was much better than the Query Browser they have now. It could even pull off multiple SQL commands at once (it was smart like that). I actually use a combination of the phpMyAdmin and the CC to do what I need depending on which handles the task better. Cumbersome, sure, by I’m picky like that.

    I still most enjoy the Query Analyzer/Enterprise Manager for MS SQL Server.

  11. Ryan Campbell · 5 years ago

    Enterprise Manager is evil! It kills my computers resources. I agree with you though on MySQL Control Center. I wish they were continuing development on it.

  12. Jeff Smith · 5 years ago

    I’ve been using CocoaMySQL for some time now and it has worked great for me. The only problem with it that I found was connecting to a DB hosted on my local computer, but this issue was resolved in the last release of the software.

  13. Dave McFarland · 5 years ago

    Navicat is great. You can set up schedule backups which is great, and synchronize data across databases—this is a great way to make sure the date in a local development database is in sync with a production database.

    Development on CocoaMySQL seems to have stopped. The biggest drawback is that it doesn’t work with the new password mechanism in MySQL 4+.

  14. Tijs · 5 years ago

    I have been using CocoaMySQL but YourSQL looks really promising. How about DB modelling apps? I love XERD for it’s simplicity but any tips on other affordable or open source programs are much appreciated.

  15. kevincheung · 5 years ago

    I administer several installations of Moodle and other course management systems. Backing up critical data to multiple servers was a headache until I found Navicat.

    I tried doing similar backups and restores with PhpMyAdmin and CocoaMySQL and always ran into problems. Navicat, on the other hand, just runs smoothly and sweetly each and every time.

    I’ve also found Navicat email support to be very reliable. I’ve always received a knowledgeable response within 24 hours.

  16. Kates · 5 years ago

    MySQL Control Center is always the next app I install after MySQL. I just got used and familiar to using it that I didn’t mind looking for an alternative. Uh, the commandline is another one I use frequently.

    For online work, phpMyAdmin.

  17. Tom · 5 years ago

    DBVisualizer and Aqua Data Studio are two excellent gui’s and, coincidentally, two of the nicest Java GUI apps I’ve ever used.

    Both worth checking out.

  18. Gerard McGarry · 5 years ago

    I use the MysQL Administrator, although previous versions have been buggy. I’ve used phpMyAdmin on a few web-based packages, though.

    I wasn’t aware there were so many third-party programs out there, though. Thanks Ryan!

  19. Greg · 5 years ago

    Thanks for this Ryan, I’d not come across Navicat before and it is indeed very good, and as you say, very responsive. I may even do more frequent backups of my databases now thanks to this!

    Cheers, Greg.

  20. Ryan Campbell · 5 years ago

    Aqua Data Studio looks tempting because of all of the different database support. I’m gonna give it a good look.

    I hear ya Greg - backing up is something that you can never have enough of, so I’ll take any help I can get from a GUI.

  21. creeront · 5 years ago

    I can’t condonse using MySQL it’s unreliable. Just check the huge slashdot post about MySQL problems. PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and Oracle are the only databases I will ever really consider using.

  22. Chris Campbell · 5 years ago

    “with a little bit of MS Access sometimes for quick and dirty‚Ķ”
    I knew I’m not the only one out there!

  23. bill weaver · 5 years ago

    I’ve used the MySQL command line, phpMyAdmin, MySQL Control Center, and MySQL Administrator. They’re all useful, but for remote hosted databases I find phpMyAdmin does the job just fine and is free (or at least included with most hosting plans).

    Thanks for the article, though. It gives me motivation to try some of the others you mentioned.

  24. Shantanu Oak · 5 years ago

    Worth mentioning…

    MyDB Studio http://www.mydb-studio.com/

    Toad for MySQL http://www.quest.com/mysql/

    phpFlashMyAdmin http://www.tufat.com/script7.htm

    I personally use MySQL Data Manager.

  25. Peter · 5 years ago

    It would be good if people could state when they list an app if it’s free or not - as I don’t do MySQL for hours every single day I’m still sticking with free stuff if possible :)

    Tijs: may not be much help to you on the Mac, but I use the free DBDesigner from FabForce [1] to design my databases. The guys developing it were signed on by MySQL and are supposed to be releasing a version under the MySQL brand eventually… they’ve got side tracked on Administrator and Query Browser so far.

  26. Shab · 5 years ago

    I’ve used MySQL Query Browser, MySQL Administrator and phpMyAdmin, and none of them seem to have proper support for foreign keys. Is it too much to ask to be presented with a drop-down list? Do any of the other listed programs allow this functionality? I know phpMyAdmin has a really sucky hacked way of doing it, but I’m not interested in that.

  27. Alex Kuk · 5 years ago

    For more than a year I use Mysql Data Manager (from cgiscriptshop.com) to support our DB directly on the web site. I do not believe any other interface can compete with it. Nice looking and feature rich. No bug I’ve seen so far. Backup creator is amazing