Import data into an Access database

Data has a way of accumulating in various formats, files, and locations, which makes it hard to actually get any use out of it. If you have data in a spreadsheet, a SharePoint list, or some other format, you can import it into an Access database with just a few steps, making it much more, well, Access-ible.

Importing into an Access app

On the Add Tables page (the first thing you see when creating a new custom app), you can import data from Excel workbooks, ODBC data sources, text/CSV files, SharePoint lists, and other Access databases.

Existing data source options on the Add Tables page.

If you’ve already started an app, open it in Access (in the browser, click Settings > Customize in Access), then click Home > Table.

Once you’re on the Add Tables page, near the bottom of the page, click the type of data source you want to import, and follow the instructions in the Get External Data wizard.


  • Importing data into an app always creates a new table with default List and Datasheet views.
  • You can’t append data to existing tables using the Import Wizard in an app. However, you can import data into a new table and then do one of the following:
    • Use datasheet views to copy and paste the data into the target table, or
    • Use the CreateRecord action in a data macro to add the imported data to the target table.

 Tip    Create lookups between new tables and existing ones to start tying data together. As long as a table’s default views haven’t been modified from the original, Access will add the appropriate “related data” controls to help you begin using the data.

Importing into a desktop database

Access desktop databases can import a few more types of files than apps. If you have a file type that you can’t import directly into an app, you might be able to import it into a desktop database first, and then import the desktop database table(s) into the app.

Desktop databases also let you append external data to an existing table, a feature unavailable in apps.

To import data into a desktop database:

  1. On the External Data tab, in the Import & Link group, click the type of the file you want to import.

    The Import & Link group on the External Data tab in a desktop database.
  2. Follow the instructions in the Get External Data wizard.

External data operations available in apps and desktop databases

This table gives you a quick reference of which kinds of files you can import or link to Access apps or desktop databases.

Access apps can import… Access apps can link to… Desktop databases can import… Desktop databases can link to…
Microsoft Excel Green dot Green dot Green dot
Microsoft Access Green dot Green dot Green dot
ODBC Databases, such as SQL Server Green dot Green dot Green dot
Text or comma-separated value (CSV) files Green dot Green dot Green dot
(add new records only)
SharePoint List Green dot Green dot
Green dot Green dot
XML Green dot
Data Services Green dot Green dot
HTML Document Green dot Green dot
Outlook folder Green dot Green dot
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Access 2013