Create a new database

Microsoft Office Access 2007 features a number of improvements that make the process of creating a new database easier. Even if you have created databases before, it is likely that you will appreciate these features for their ability to speed up the creation process.

This article covers the basic process of starting Office Access 2007 and creating a database, either by using a template or by creating your own tables, forms, reports, and other database objects. It also details a few techniques that you can use to get information into your new database.

 Tip   Try Office 2010 . Access 2010 has powerful tools that make it easier to track, report, and share your data. Read an article or try Office 2010.

What do you want to do?


Get to know the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page

When you first start Access, or if you close a database without closing Access, the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page is displayed.

Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page

This page is a starting point from which you can create a new database, open an existing database, or view featured content from Microsoft Office Online.

Create a database by using a template

Access provides you with a wide variety of templates that you can use to speed up the database creation process. A template is a ready-to-use database containing all the tables, queries, forms, and reports needed to perform a specific task. For example, there are templates that you can use to track issues, manage contacts, or keep a record of expenses. Some templates contain a few sample records to help demonstrate their use. Template databases can be used as they are, or you can customize them to better fit your needs.

If one of these templates fits your needs, using it is usually the fastest way to get a database started. However, if you have data in another program that you want to import into Access, you might decide it is better to create a database without using a template. Templates have a data structure already defined, and it might require a lot of work to adapt your existing data to the template's structure.

  1. If you have a database open, click the Microsoft Office Button Button image and then click Close Database Button image to display the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page.
  2. Several featured templates are displayed in the middle of the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page, and more become available when you click the links in the Template Categories pane. You can download additional templates from the Office Online Web site. See the next section in this article for details.
  3. Click the template that you want to use.
  4. Access suggests a file name for your database in the File Name box — you can change the file name, if you want. To save the database in a different folder from the one displayed below the file name box, click Button image, browse to the folder in which you want to save it, and then click OK. Optionally, you can create and link your database to a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 site.
  5. Click Create (or Download, for an Office Online template).

Access creates or downloads the database and then opens it. A form is displayed in which you can begin entering data. If your template contains sample data, you can delete each record by clicking the record selector (the shaded box or bar just to the left of the record), and then doing the following:

On the Home tab, in the Records group, click Delete. Button image

  1. To begin entering data, click in the first empty cell on the form and begin typing. Use the Navigation Pane to browse for other forms or reports that you might want to use.

Download a template from Office Online

If you can't find a template that fits your needs on the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page, and you are connected to the Internet, you can explore the Office Online Web site for a larger selection.

  1. On the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page, under More on Office Online, click Templates.

The Templates home page on Office Online is displayed in your browser window.

  1. Use the Office Online navigation and search tools to find the Access template that you would like to use, and follow the instructions to download it. When you download a template, a database file is downloaded to your computer and opened in a new instance of Access. In most cases, the template is designed to open a data entry form so that you can begin entering data immediately.

For more information about working with templates, see the article Guide to the Access 2007 templates.

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Create a database without using a template

If you are not interested in using a template, you can create a database by building your own tables, forms, reports, and other database objects. In most cases, this usually involves one or both of the following:

  • Entering, pasting, or importing data into the table that is created when you create a new database, and then repeating the process with new tables that you create by using the Table command on the Create tab.
  • Importing data from other sources and creating new tables in the process.

To learn more about how to plan and design a database, or about creating relationships, forms, reports, or queries, follow the links in the See Also section of this article.

Create a blank database

  1. On the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page, under New Blank Database, click Blank Database.

Blank Database button

  1. In the Blank Database pane, type a file name in the File Name box. If you do not supply a file name extension, Access adds it for you. To change the location of the file from the default, click Browse for a location to put your database Button image (next to the File Name box), browse to the new location, and then click OK.
  2. Click Create.

Access creates the database with an empty table named Table1, and then opens Table1 in Datasheet view. The cursor is placed in the first empty cell in the Add New Field column.

  1. Begin typing to add data, or you can paste data from another source, as described in the section Copy data from another source into an Access table.

Entering information in Datasheet view is designed to be very similar to working in a Microsoft Office Excel 2007 worksheet. The table structure is created while you enter data — any time you add a new column to the table, a new field is defined. Access automatically sets each field's data type, based on the data you enter.

If you do not want to enter information in Table1 at this time, click Close Button image. If you made any changes to the table, Access prompts you to save changes to the table. Click Yes to save your changes, click No to discard them, or click Cancel to leave the table open.

 Important   If you close Table1 without saving it at least once, Access deletes the entire table, even if you have entered data in it.

Add a table

You can add new tables to an existing database by using the commands in the Tables group on the Create tab.

Access Ribbon Image

Create a table, starting in Datasheet view    In Datasheet view, you can enter data immediately and let Access build the table structure behind the scenes. Field names are assigned numerically (Field1, Field2, and so on), and Access automatically sets each field's data type, based on the data you enter.

  1. On the Create tab, in the Tables group, click Table. Button image

Access creates the table and selects the first empty cell in the Add New Field column.

 Note   If you don't see an Add New Field column, you might be in Design view instead of Datasheet view. To switch to Datasheet view, double-click the table in the Navigation Pane. Access prompts you to save the new table, and then switches to Datasheet view.

  1. On the Datasheet tab, in the Fields & Columns group, click New Field. Button image

Access displays the Field Templates pane, which contains a list of commonly used field types. If you double-click or drag one of these fields into your datasheet, Access adds a field by that name and sets its properties to appropriate values for that type of field. You can change the properties later, if you want. If you drag the field, you must drag it onto an area of the datasheet that contains data. A vertical insertion bar appears, showing you where the field will be placed.

  1. To add data, begin typing in the first empty cell, or paste data from another source, as described in the section Copy data from another source into an Access table.
  2. To rename a column (field), double-click the column heading, and then type the new name.

It is a good practice to give a meaningful name to each field, so that you can tell what it contains when you see it in the Field List pane.

  1. To move a column, click its heading to select the column, and then drag the column to the location you want.

You can also select multiple contiguous columns and then drag them to a new location all at once. To select multiple contiguous columns, click the column header of the first column, and then, while holding down SHIFT, click the column header of the last column.

Create a table, starting in Design view    In Design view, you first create the new table's structure. You then switch to Datasheet view to enter data, or enter data by using some other method, such as pasting, or importing.

  1. On the Create tab, in the Tables group, click Table Design. Button image
  1. For each field in your table, type a name in the Field Name column, and then select a data type from the Data Type list.

 Note   If you don't see the Field Name and Data Type columns, you might be in Datasheet view instead of Design view. To switch to Design view, right-click the table in the Navigation Pane, and then click Design View Button image. Access prompts you for a name for the new table, and then switches to Design view.

  1. If you want, you can type a description for each field in the Description column. The description is then displayed on the status bar when the cursor is located in that field in Datasheet view. The description is also used as the status bar text for any controls in a form or report that you create by dragging the field from the Field List pane, and for any controls that are created for that field when you use the Form Wizard or Report Wizard.
  2. After you have added all of your fields, save the table:
  • Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Save, or press CTRL+S Button image.
  1. You can begin typing data in the table at any time by switching to Datasheet view and clicking in the first empty cell. You can also paste data from another source, as described in the section Copy data from another source into an Access table.

Create a table by using a template    Access provides templates for commonly-used types of tables. With a single mouse click, you can create a complete table structure with fields already configured and ready for use. If needed, you can then add or remove fields so that the table fits your needs.

  1. On the Create tab, in the Tables group, click Table Templates and then select one of the available templates from the list.
  1. To add data, begin typing in the first empty cell or paste data from another source, as described in the section Copy data from another source into an Access table.
    • To delete a column    
      1. Right-click the column heading, and then click Delete Column Button image.
    • To add a new column    
      1. On the Datasheet tab, in the Fields & Columns group, click New Field. Button image
  1. Access displays the Field Templates pane, which contains a list of commonly used field types. If you double-click or drag one of these fields into your datasheet, Access adds a field by that name and sets its properties to appropriate values for that type of field. You can change the properties later, if you want. If you drag the field, you must drag it onto an area of the datasheet that contains data. A vertical insertion bar appears, showing you where the field will be placed.
  1. Save the table:
  • Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Save, or press CTRL+S Button image.

Set field properties in Design view    Regardless of how you created your table, it is a good idea to examine and set field properties. This can only be done in Design view. To switch to Design view, right-click the table in the Navigation Pane and then click Design View. To see a field's properties, click the field in the design grid. The properties are displayed below the design grid, under Field Properties.

To see a description of each field property, click the property and read the description in the box next to the property list under Field Properties. You can get more detailed information by pressing F1.

The following table describes some of the field properties that are commonly adjusted.

Property Description
Field Size For Text fields, this property sets the maximum number of characters that can be stored in the field. The maximum is 255. For Number fields, this property sets the type of number that will be stored (Long Integer, Double, and so on). For the most efficient data storage, it is recommended that you allocate the least amount of space that you think you will need for the data. You can adjust the value upwards later, if your needs change.
Format This property sets how the data is displayed. It does not affect the actual data as it is stored in the field. You can select a predefined format or enter a custom format.
Input Mask Use this property to specify a pattern for all data that will be entered in this field. This helps ensure that all data is entered correctly, and that it contains the required number of characters. For help about building an input mask, click Button image at the right side of the property box.
Default Value Use this property to specify the default value that will appear in this field each time that a new record is added. For example, if you have a Date/Time field in which you always want to record the date that the record was added, you can enter "Date()" (without the quotation marks) as the default value.
Required This property sets whether a value is required in this field. If you set this property to Yes, Access does not allow you to add a new record unless a value is entered for this field.

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Copy data from another source into an Access table

If your data is currently stored in another program, such as Office Excel 2007, you can copy and paste it into an Access table. In general, this works best if your data is already separated into columns, as they are in an Excel worksheet. If your data is in a word processing program, it is best to separate the columns of data by using tabs, or to convert the data into a table in the word processing program before you copy the data. If your data needs any editing or manipulation (for example, separating full names into first and last names), you might want to do this before copying the data, particularly if you are not familiar with Access.

When you paste data into an empty table, Access sets the data type of each field according to what kind of data it finds there. For example, if a pasted field contains nothing but date values, Access applies the Date/Time data type to that field. If the pasted field contains only the words "yes" and "no", Access applies the Yes/No data type to the field.

Access names the fields depending on what it finds in the first row of pasted data. If the first row of pasted data is similar in type to the rows that follow, Access determines that the first row is part of the data and assigns the fields generic names (F1, F2, and so on). If the first row of pasted data is not similar to the rows that follow, Access determines that the first row consists of field names. Access names the fields accordingly and does not include the first row in the data.

If Access assigns generic field names, you should rename the fields as soon as possible to avoid confusion. Use the following procedure:

  1. Save the table.
  • Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Save, or press CTRL+S Button image.
  1. In Datasheet view, double-click each column heading, and then type a valid field name for each column. It might look as though you are typing over data, but the column heading row contains field names, not data.
  2. Save the table again.

 Note   You can also rename the fields by switching to Design view and editing the field names there. To switch to Design view, right-click the table in the Navigation Pane and click Design View. To switch back to Datasheet view, double-click the table in the Navigation Pane.

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Import, append, or link to data from another source

You might have data that is stored in another program, and you would like to import that data into a new table or append it to an existing table in Access. Or you might work with people who keep their data in other programs, and you want to work with it in Access by linking to it. Either way, Access makes it easy to work with data from other sources. You can import data from an Excel worksheet, from a table in another Access database, from a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 list, or from a variety of other sources. The process you use differs slightly, depending on your source, but the following procedure will get you started.

  1. In Access, on the External Data tab, in the Import group, click the command for the type of file that you are importing.

Access Ribbon Image

For example, if you are importing data from an Excel worksheet, click Excel. If you don't see the program type that you need, click More.

 Note   If you can't find the correct format type in the Import group, you might need to start the program in which you originally created the data and then use that program to save the data in a common file format (such as a delimited text file (delimited text file: A file containing data where individual field values are separated by a character, such as a comma or a tab.)) before you can import that data into Access.

  1. In the Get External Data dialog box, click Browse to find the source data file, or type the full path of the source data file in the File name box.
  2. Click the option that you want (all programs allow you to import, and some allow you to append or link) under Specify how and where you want to store the data in the current database. You can create a new table that uses the imported data or (with some programs) you can append the data to an existing table or create a linked table that maintains a link to the data in the source program.
  3. If a wizard starts, follow the instructions on the next few pages of the wizard. On the last page of the wizard, click Finish.

If you import objects or link tables from an Access database, either the Import Objects or Link Tables dialog box appears. Choose the items you want and click OK.

The exact process depends on whether you choose to import, append, or link data.

  1. Access prompts you about whether you want to save the details of the import operation that you just completed. If you think that you will be performing this same import operation again in the future, click Save import steps, and then enter the details. You can then easily repeat the operation at a later time by clicking Saved Imports Button image in the Import group on the External Data tab. If you don't want to save the details of the operation, click Close.

If you chose to import a table, Access imports the data into a new table and then displays the table under the Tables group in the Navigation Pane. If you chose to append data to an existing table, the data is added to that table. If you chose to link to data, Access creates a linked table under the Tables group in the Navigation Pane.

For more specific information about how to import various types of data into Access, see the links in the See Also section.

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Open an existing Access database

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Open.
  1. In the Open dialog box, browse to the database that you want to open.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Double-click the database to open it in the default mode specified in the Access Options dialog box or the mode that was set by an administrative policy.
    • Click Open to open the database for shared access in a multi-user environment so that you and other users can read and write to the database.
    • Click the arrow next to the Open button and then click Open Read-Only to open the database for read-only access so that you can view but not edit it. Other users can still read and write to the database.
    • Click the arrow next to the Open button and then click Open Exclusive to open the database with exclusive access. When you have a database open with exclusive access, anyone else who tries to open the database receives a "file already in use" message.
    • Click the arrow next to the Open button and then click Open Exclusive Read-Only to open the database for read-only access. Other users can still open the database, but they are limited to read-only mode.

If you can't find the database that you want to open    

  1. In the Open dialog box, click My Computer or, click My Computer in the Look in drop-down list.
  2. In the list of drives, right-click the drive that you think might contain the database, and then click Search.
  3. Type your search criteria in the Search Results dialog box, and then click Search to search for the database.
  4. If the database is found, double-click it to open it.
  5. You must click Cancel in the Open dialog box for the database to open. Then, close the Search Results dialog box.

 Note   You can directly open a data file in an external file format, such as dBASE, Paradox, Microsoft Exchange, or Excel. You can also directly open any ODBC data source (ODBC data source: Data and the information needed to access that data from programs and databases that support the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) protocol.), such as Microsoft SQL Server or Microsoft FoxPro. Access automatically creates a new Access database in the same folder as the data file, and adds links to each table in the external database.

Tips

  • To open one of the most recently opened databases, click the file name for that database in the Open Recent Database list on the Getting Started with Microsoft Office Access page. Access opens the database with the same option settings that it had the last time you opened it. If the list of recently used files is not displayed, click the Microsoft Office Button Button image and then click Access Options. In the Access Options dialog box, click Advanced. Under Display, enter the number of documents to display in the Recent Documents list, up to a maximum of nine.
  • If you are opening a database by clicking the Microsoft Office Button Button image and then using the Open command, you can view a list of shortcuts to databases that you have previously opened by clicking My Recent Documents in the Open dialog box.

To learn more about opening existing Access databases, see the links in the See Also section of this article.

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Create a custom blank template

When you create a new blank database, Access opens a new table in which you can enter data, but it creates no other objects in the database. If you want other objects, such as forms, reports, macros, or additional tables, present in all new databases you create, you can create a custom blank template that contains those objects. Then, the next time you create a new database, it will already contain those objects in your template. In addition to these objects, the template can include tables prepopulated with data, as well as any special configuration settings, database properties, references, or code that you want to have in all new databases.

For example, suppose you have a collection of macros that you like to use in all your projects. If you create a blank template containing those macros, Access includes them in any new databases you create.

You can create blank templates in the Office Access 2007 file format, the Access 2002-2003 file format, or the Access 2000 file format. The template must be named Blank.accdb for the Office Access 2007 file format, and Blank.mdb for the earlier file formats.

  • If the default file format is set to Access 2000 or Access 2002 - 2003, Access uses Blank.mdb as the blank template file name. The new database is created in the same file format as Blank.mdb. For example, even if your default file format is Access 2000, if the template named Blank.mdb is in Access 2002-2003 file format, any new databases you create will be in Access 2002-2003 format.
  • If your default file format is set to Access 2007, Access uses Blank.accdb as the file name for the blank template.

ShowHow do I change the default file format?

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then click Access Options.
  1. In the Access Options dialog box, click Popular.
  2. Under Creating databases, select the format you want from the Default file format drop-down list.

To create a blank template, do one of the following:

  • Create a new database (you can name it Blank or give it a temporary name), and then import or create the objects you want to include in the template.
  • Make a copy of an existing database that already contains the objects you want in the template, and then delete any objects you don't want.

After you have the objects you want in the template, you must save it to a specific location.

  1. Click the Microsoft Office Button Button image, and then point to Save As.
  1. Under Save the database in another format, click the file format you want for the template.
  2. In the Save As dialog box, browse to one of these two template folders:
    • System template folder    For example, C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033\Access
    • User template folder    For example:
  • In Windows Vista    c:\Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates
  • In Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Microsoft Windows XP    C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

 Note   A blank template in the System template folder overrides blank templates in any user template folders.

  1. In the File name box, type Blank.accdb (or Blank.mdb, if you are creating an earlier-version template), and then click Save.

Now that the new template is in place, when you create a new blank database, the objects in the template are included in any new database you create by default. Access opens a new table in Datasheet view, as it does when you create new blank databases without using a template.

To stop using the blank template, delete or rename the file named Blank.accdb (or Blank.mdb, for earlier versions of Access).

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Applies to:
Access 2007