Mac Software Guide

FileMaker History

- 2008.09.15

FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform (Mac OS and Windows) relational database (RDBMS) application published by Apple subsidiary FileMaker Inc.

Born at Nashoba Systems, Concord, MA, in the early 1980s as Nutshell, a DOS-based database, it was adapted to the Macintosh with a graphical user interface in 1985. On the Mac, it was known as FileMaker. FileMaker went head-to-head with Microsoft File, then the dominant database app on the Mac, and within a year it matched its sales. Two years later Microsoft discontinued its program.

Noashoba had three major revisions of FileMaker before the company was acquired by Apple to become part of its Claris* software division in 1986, at which point the software was renamed FileMaker II. FileMaker became a cross-platform app with Mac and Windows versions in 1992. The first version to support Mac OS X, FileMaker Pro 5.5, was released in 2001, and version 6 was the last to support the Classic Mac OS.

FileMaker's appeal was the integration of the database engine with a forms-based GUI that made it much easier to implement databases than other software available - a distinction it has maintained ever since. FileMaker can easily be used to create small, simple databases, such as personal contact lists or recipe files, but it has the power to enable complex enterprise-level relational systems as well. Its interface has remained essentially the same over the years, so FileMaker users can use new versions right out of the box without having to relearn it.

Version History

FileMaker v1.0 (4/85)

Requires System 3.2 to 4.2 and Finder 5.3 to 6.0.

FileMaker Plus v2.1 (10/86)

Same system requirements as FileMaker 1.0.

FileMaker 4 (6/88)
FileMaker II 1.0 (8/88), 1.1v2 (7/89)

By 1988, Apple had formed Claris, a wholly-owned subsidiary, to market software; Claris purchased FileMaker from Nashoba in July 1988, renaming it FileMaker II and making only minor changes. All these versions require System 4.2 and Finder 6.0, but none run under anything beyond System 6.0.7.

FileMaker Pro 1.0

v1 (10/90); 1.0v2 (3/91); 1.0.v3 (4/92)

FileMaker Pro 1.0.vx requires System 6.0, but nothing later than System 6.0.7.

FileMaker Pro 2.0

v1 (10/92), 2.0v2 (11/92), 2.0v3 (3/93), 2.0v4 (4/93); 2.1 (8/93), 2.1v2 (2/94), 2.1v3 (7/94)
FileMaker Pro Server 2.0 (7/94), 2.1v1 (3/95)

FileMaker Pro 2.0 was the first cross-platform version (Mac/Windows). Users on either platform can share databases with users on the other. Other additions included ScriptMaker, field formatting, summary data export, and AppleEvents and QuickTime for Mac support.

Also new with 2.0 was the first release of FileMaker Pro SDK 2.1 (a "Solutions Distribution Kit" which enabled developers to compile templates into stand-alone applications) and FileMaker Pro Server. Sharing regular FileMaker databases is possible across any AppleTalk, MacIPX, or TCP/IP network on Macs or Windows or both. This requires each user to have a own licensed copy of FileMaker; and when more than a small handful of users are logged in simultaneously, performance degrades appreciably. FileMaker Pro Server was intended to serve larger networks more quickly and less expensively.

Version 2.1 was a minor upgrade, bringing NETBIOS and MacIPX support, server administration, and QuickTime for Windows support.

FileMaker Pro 2 versions require System 6.0 "or later" (according to FileMaker Inc.). I haven't been able to find a copy to determine if that includes 8.x or 9.x or whether it will run in Classic Mode under OS X. (If you know, please take a minute to tell us!)

FileMaker Pro 3.0

v1 (12/95), 3.0v2 (1/96), 3.0v3 and SDK 3.0 (6/96), 3.0v4 (12/96), 3.0v5 (1/97)
FileMaker Pro Server 3.0 (12/95) and 3.0v2 (6/96)

FileMaker Pro 3.0 introduces relational files and portals, TCP/IP networking capabilities, and OLE support. A new file format was also introduced, with the suffix .fp3; older files (with the suffix .fm) require conversion to the new format; once converted, they will no longer run in older versions of FileMaker. If you need or want to open a file in an older version, be sure to save a copy in the older format before converting to the new.

System requirements (except for Server): 6 MB RAM (v3 needs a minimum of 3 MB RAM, which, combined with System 7's requirement of 2 MB - the absolute minimum! - means you essentially need 6 MB; System 7.0 through 9.2.2, and will run in the Classic Mode in OS X. FileMaker Pro Server 3.0 requires System 7.1 or higher.

System requirements, Server 3.0: 68030 or better CPU; 4 MB RAM (8 MB RAM for PowerPC Macs).

Note: Updates for all versions of FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, and FileMaker Server 4.0 and later which follow are available from FileMaker.

FileMaker Pro 4.0

v1 (9/97), SDK 4.0 (9/98), 4.0v2 (10/98), 4.0v3 (7/99); 4.1 (6/98), 4.1v2 (6/99), 4.1v3 (7/99)

In early 1998, Apple moved nearly all Claris products (the ones they didn't discontinue) in-house - all except FileMaker and Claris Home Page. They renamed the subsidiary FileMaker Inc., and it continued to develop and market the database.

Version 4.0 introduced plugins support - developers could write various extensions adding to FileMaker functionality. (There are hundreds of plugins now available - search for "FileMaker" at MacUpdate or VersionTracker to see what's available.)

The Web Companion, a bundled plugin, made its bow, with its own http server and CGI, enabling users to run a website with one copy of FileMaker Pro. Also new was sorted relationships, object rotation, support for GIF and JPEG images, exact field match, and the ability to import Excel files directly.

Version 4.1 added ODBC/SQL import via plugins (PPC hardware only), kiosk mode, and Euro symbol support.

System requirements: System 7.1 through 9.2.2; also runs in Classic mode in OS X. It is the last version of FileMaker Pro which will run on 680x0 Macs.

FileMaker Pro 5.0

v1 (9/99), 5.0v2 (2/00), 5.0v3 (3/00)
FileMaker Pro Server 5.0 (11/99), 5.0v2 (5/00)

Version 5.0 was a major upgrade, with another new file format (.fm5) that required conversion of older databases (with the same caveats as before). New features: built-in ODBC driver, enhanced Web publishing, layout/report assistant, table view, script import, conditional value lists, data merge on import, and QuickTime VR support.

System requirements: PowerPC CPU; Mac OS 7.6 through 9.2.2; runs in OS X via Classic Mode.

Also required is a PowerPC processor, 16 MB RAM, 17-30 MB free space on your hard drive, and a CD-ROM.

FileMaker Pro 5.5

v1 (4/01), 5.5v2 (12/01)
FileMaker Pro Server 5.5 (7/01), 5.5v4 (10/03)

This version is the first to run natively in Mac OS X. New features included improved ODBC support, record-level security, two-way dynamic ODBC exchange, Excel Named Range import, and multithreaded Web Companion.

Requires Mac OS 8.6 through Mac OS 9.2.2 or Mac OS X (runs in Classic Mode in OS X).

FileMaker Pro 6.0

v1 (9/02), 6.0v2 (10/03), 6.0v3, 6.0v4 (11/03)

Added XML import and export, multimedia and digital image import, Format Painter, import folder of files, custom dialog boxes, constrain and extend found set.

System requirements: Mac OS 8.6 through Mac OS 9.2.2; Mac OS X 10.1 (runs in Classic Mode, no support for toolbars).

FileMaker Pro 7.0

v1 (3/04), 7.0v2 (5/04), 7.0v3 (10/04) - FileMaker Pro Server 7.0 (5/04), 7.0v2 (9/04), 7.0v3 (2/05), 7.0v4 (10/05)

FileMaker Pro 7 was a "Great Leap Forward" - with another file format change (.fp7). (To use databases from FileMaker Pro versions 2.x or earlier, you first have to use a version of FileMaker between 3.x and 6.x to convert upwards, then use version 7.0 to convert that file. If you don't already have one of those versions, you can use trial versions to do the job - for OS 8.x or 9.x, , for OS X)

A new relational structure allows up to a million tables in a one file, along with multiple files and windows, and increased database capacity (8 terabytes). Other new features include: entity relationship diagrams, calculation variables, store/import/export any file in container field, enhanced Instant Web Publishing (better rendering, more script steps supported, new status area), split portals, sort on summary field, and accounts/privilege-based security parameters on scripts and buttons.

System requirements: G3, G4, or G5 CPU; 128 MB RAM; 800 x 600 display (1024 x 768 or higher preferred); Mac OS X 10.2.8

FileMaker Pro 8.0 and Advanced 8.0

v1 (8/05); 8.0v2 and Advanced 8.0v2 (12/05); 8.0v3 and Advanced 8.0v3 (4/06)

FileMaker Pro 8 offered many new features, including: PDF Maker (save as PDF) and Excel Maker (save in Excel format or export to Excel), tab control, script variables, auto-completion for data entry, calendar dropdowns, enhanced finds, email merge, table import, and scriptable PDF reports.

FileMaker Pro Advanced offers developers extensive control over menus available in their databases and allows scripts, relationships, and fields to be copied and pasted.

System requirements: G3, G4, or G5 CPU (Intel CPUs supported via Rosetta); 256 MB RAM; Mac OS X 10.3.9

FileMaker Pro Server 8.0

v1 (9/05), 8.0v3 (4/06), 8.0v4 (7/06)
Server Advanced 8.0 (1/06), 8.0v3 (4/06), 8.0v4 (7/06)

In FileMaker Server 8 and FileMaker Server 8 Advanced, the database engine was improved, providing significant speed increases over FileMaker Server 7.

System requirements: G3, G4, or G5 CPU (Intel CPUs supported via Rosetta); 256 MB RAM; Mac OS X 10.3.9

FileMaker Pro 8.5 and Advanced 8.5

v1 (7/06); Advanced 8.5v2 (runs under Leopard) (12/07)

Universal binary (supports Intel Macs). The new FileMaker Web Viewer allows viewing web pages directly within database records, based on data held within a record (such as a map based upon an address). Databases can also be integrated with web enabled applications. Also has new object functions and scripts, and the FileMaker Learning Center.

System requirements: G3, G4, G5 or Intel CPU; 256 MB RAM; Mac OS X 10.3.9 for PowerPC Macs, 10.4.5 for Intel Macs

FileMaker Pro 9

v1 (7/07), Advanced 9.0v2 (11/07), 9.0v3 and Advanced 9.0v3 for Tiger (2/08), 9.0v3 and Advanced 9.0v3 for Leopard (12/07)
FileMaker Pro Server and Server Advanced 9.0v2 (9/07), 9.0v3 for Tiger and for Leopard (2/08), (3/08)

New features include native SQL support for Microsoft SQL, Oracle, and MySQL; script grouping; conditional formatting; and append to PDF. Server 9 and Server Advanced 9 have a new admin console, secure connections to external SQL data sources, PHP site assistant, and server-side scripting.

System requirements: G3, G4, G5, or Intel CPU; 256 MB RAM; Mac OS X 10.4.8

FileMaker Pro 10

v1 (1/09), v2 (4/09, Windows only bug fix), v3 (7/09)
FileMaker Server v1 (1/09, v2 (7/09)

New features include instant Web publishing and script triggering.

System requirements: G4, G5, or Intel CPU; 256 MB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11

FileMaker Pro 11

v1 (3/10)

New features include charts, snapshot links, filtered portals, and recurring imports.

System requirements: G4, G5, or Intel CPU; 512 MB RAM; Mac OS X 10.5.7


The Claris brand was discontinued in 1998, ClarisWorks was renamed AppleWorks, and FileMaker Inc. was born. It's only products at the time were FileMaker Pro and Claris Home Page 3.0, which was never again updated; it was discontinued in 2001. FileMaker Inc. added a new database product, Bento, in 2008.

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