ESRI Personal GeoDatabase

Driver short name


Build dependencies

ODBC library

OGR optionally supports reading ESRI Personal GeoDatabase .mdb files via ODBC. Personal GeoDatabase is a Microsoft Access database with a set of tables defined by ESRI for holding geodatabase metadata, and with geometry for features held in a BLOB column in a custom format (essentially Shapefile geometry fragments). This driver accesses the personal geodatabase via ODBC but does not depend on any ESRI middle-ware.

Personal Geodatabases are accessed by passing the file name of the .mdb file to be accessed as the data source name.

In order to facilitate compatibility with different configurations, the PGEO_DRIVER_TEMPLATE config option was added to provide a way to programmatically set the DSN with the filename as an argument. In cases where the driver name is known, this allows for the construction of the DSN based on that information in a manner similar to the default (used for Windows access to the Microsoft Access Driver).

OGR treats all feature tables as layers. Most geometry types should be supported, including 3D data. Measure information (m value) is also supported. Coordinate system information should be properly associated with layers.

Currently the OGR Personal Geodatabase driver does not take advantage of spatial indexes for fast spatial queries, though that may be added in the future.

The Personal GeoDatabase format does not strictly differentiate between multi and single geometry types for polygon or line layers, and it is possible for a polygon or line layer to contain a mix of both single and multi type geometries. Accordingly, in order to provide predictable geometry types, the GDAL driver will always report the type of a line layer as wkbMultiLineString, and a polygon layer as wkbMultiPolygon. Single-part line or polygon features in the database will be promoted to multilinestrings or multipolygons during reading.

By default, SQL statements are passed directly to the MDB database engine. It's also possible to request the driver to handle SQL commands with OGR SQL engine, by passing "OGRSQL" string to the ExecuteSQL() method, as name of the SQL dialect.

Special SQL requests

"GetLayerDefinition a_layer_name" and "GetLayerMetadata a_layer_name" can be used as special SQL requests to get respectively the definition and metadata of a Personal GeoDatabase table as XML content.

Configuration options

Configuration options can be specified in command-line tools using the syntax --config <NAME>=<VALUE> or using functions such as CPLSetConfigOption() (C) or gdal.config_options (Python). The following configuration options are available:

  • PGEO_DRIVER_TEMPLATE=value: Allows setting the DSN with the filename as an argument, e.g. DRIVER=Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb, *.accdb);DBQ=%s.

Dataset open options

Open options can be specified in command-line tools using the syntax -oo <NAME>=<VALUE> or by providing the appropriate arguments to GDALOpenEx() (C) or gdal.OpenEx (Python). The following open options are supported:

  • LIST_ALL_TABLES=[YES/NO]: (GDAL >= 3.4) This may be "YES" to force all tables, including system and internal tables (such as the GDB_* tables) to be listed

Driver capabilities

Supports Georeferencing

This driver supports georeferencing

Field domains

Added in version 3.4.

Coded and range field domains are supported.


Added in version 3.6.

Relationship retrieval is supported.

How to use PGeo driver with unixODBC and MDB Tools (on Unix and Linux)

This article gives step-by-step explanation of how to use OGR with unixODBC package and how to access Personal Geodatabase with PGeo driver. See also GDAL wiki for other details


  1. Install unixODBC >= 2.2.11

  2. Install MDB Tools. The official upstream of MDB Tools is maintained at Version 0.9.4 or later is recommended for best compatibility with the PGeo driver. With the latest version no additional configuration (the followings) is required on Debian Linux and ogrinfo sample.mdb works fine.

(On Ubuntu : sudo apt-get install unixodbc libmdbodbc)

(On Debian : sudo apt-get install unixodbc odbc-mdbtools)


There are two configuration files for unixODBC:

  • odbcinst.ini - this file contains definition of ODBC drivers available to all users; this file can be found in /etc directory or location given as --sysconfdir if you did build unixODBC yourself.

  • odbc.ini - this file contains definition of ODBC data sources (DSN entries) available to all users.

  • ~/.odbc.ini - this is the private file where users can put their own ODBC data sources.

Editing the odbc.ini files is only required if you want to setup an ODBC Data Source Name (DSN) so that Personal Geodatabase files can be directly accessed via DSN. This is entirely optional, as the PGeo driver will automatically handle the required connection parameters for you if a direct .mdb file name is used instead.

Format of configuration files is very simple:

entry1 = value
entry2 = value

For more details, refer to unixODBC manual.

1. ODBC driver configuration

First, you need to configure ODBC driver to access Microsoft Access databases with MDB Tools. Add following definition to your odbcinst.ini file.

[Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)]
Description = MDB Tools ODBC drivers
Driver     = /usr/lib/
Setup      =
FileUsage  = 1
CPTimeout  =
CPReuse    =
  • [Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)] - remember to use "Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)" as the name of section because PGeo driver composes ODBC connection string for Personal Geodatabase using "DRIVER=Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb);" string.

  • Description - put short description of this driver definition.

  • Driver - full path of ODBC driver for MDB Tools.

2. ODBC data source configuration (optional)

In this section, I use 'sample.mdb' as a name of Personal Geodatabase, so replace this name with your own database.

Create .odbc.ini file in your HOME directory:

$ touch ~/.odbc.ini

Put following ODBC data source definition to your .odbc.ini file:

Description = Sample PGeo Database
Driver      = Microsoft Access Driver (*.mdb)
Database    = /home/mloskot/data/sample.mdb
Host        = localhost
Port        = 1360
User        = mloskot
Password    =
Trace       = Yes
TraceFile   = /home/mloskot/odbc.log

Step by step explanation of DSN entry:

  • [sample_pgeo] - this is name of ODBC data source (DSN). You will refer to your Personal Geodatabase using this name. You can use your own name here.

  • Description - short description of the DSN entry.

  • Driver - full name of driver defined in step 1. above.

  • Database - full path to .mdb file with your Personal Geodatabase.

  • Host, Port, User and Password entries are not used by MDB Tools driver.

Testing PGeo driver with ogrinfo

Now, you can try to access PGeo data source with ogrinfo.

First, check if you have PGeo driver built in OGR:

$ ogrinfo --formats
Supported Formats:
  ESRI Shapefile

Now, you can access your Personal Geodatabase. If you've setup a DSN for the Personal Geodatabase (as detailed in section 2 above), the data source should be PGeo:<DSN> where <DSN> is the name of DSN entry you put to your .odbc.ini.

Alternatively, you can pass a .mdb filename directly to OGR to avoid manual creation of the DSN.

ogrinfo PGeo:sample_pgeo
INFO: Open of `PGeo:sample_pgeo'
using driver `PGeo' successful.
1. ...

After you run the command above, you should get list of layers stored in your geodatabase.

Now, you can try to query details of particular layer:

ogrinfo PGeo:sample_pgeo <layer name>
INFO: Open of `PGeo:sample_pgeo'
using driver `PGeo' successful.

Layer name: ...