About Microsoft Access

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The Microsoft Access Software


Microsoft Access (also known as MS Access) is a database development software program. Access is used to create a relational database, which has many more functions than a simple list, such as an Excel spreadsheet. An MS Access database file has an .accdb extension by default, while versions older than Access 2007 use an .mdb file extension. One of the drawbacks of using earlier versions of the software is that older versions of Access cannot read .accdb extensions. However, newer versions, from MS Access 2007 and newer, can read and edit earlier versions of Access.

The next section discusses the parts, or components, of an Access database program. There are seven primary components, each designed to work with the other parts of the software.

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Components Of Microsoft Access

  • Tables
  • Relationships
  • Forms
  • Queries
  • Macros
  • Modules
  • Reports


The tables are used as the storage container for data within the database. Multiple tables can be created that relate to each other, like a Person table and an Address table. However, these related tables must be designed and developed properly to work both fast and accurately. Many of the Access databases we re-design or replace for our clients were not designed properly, creating many problems.

Tables can look very similar to a spreadsheet, in fact, Access provides for a datasheet view of tables, so you can see several entries at one time. The table has columns and rows, like a spreadsheet. Column names represent the names of fields, while the names for the rows are used to represent records. In an Access database, we often refer to the fields and records.


Relationships tie the tables together to form logical bonds among two or more tables. The table relationships are created by linking similar elements to each other. The linking takes place between fields that have the same values.

Relationships are the bonds you build between the tables. They join tables that have associated elements. To do this there is a field in each table, which is linked to each other, and have the same values.


Forms are used to collect and display information. They are also used to navigate inside the application and perform other activities. Forms are the interface between you, the user, and the database. The most common use for an Access form is displaying and editing the existing data and for adding new data. MS Access offers a wide variety of features that allow you to build forms for data entry.

Access also makes it easy for someone to design forms that lets users view and modify data. Access forms are used as a means of navigating the database, forms can be used for many tasks. Forms can be used to are quite strong you can use access to create custom dialog boxes. They can also be used to create output that looks very similar to a printed page. Access provides a wide variety of form styles and you can create custom forms as well.

Forms utilize the queries, macros and modules (custom code) to control how data is displayed. Forms can be very specialized to only show specific data depending on many variables. Because form development is so powerful within MS Access form development is very flexible.


A query is a tool used to manipulate data so Access displays only the data that is requested. This is particularly valuable in forms and reports; you see only the data that meets the proper conditions (criteria) for the query. Queries are used for calculations, sorting, grouping, filtering, and joining tables. Queries are also used to update data and delete data in the database.

Microsoft Access contains a specific programming language, called Structured Query Language, almost alway referred to as SQL. The correct pronunciation for SQL is "es que el", not "sequel". The Access queries are designed so you can produce a lot of valuable work without becoming and SQL programmer. Access features a built in "Query Window" also called the Query Design view window for developing queries.


Macros create automated processes for Microsoft Access to product many actions within the database. Macros are commands that provide you with a various actions that will create actions in a specific order. You can use macros to open forms and run queries or make changes to field values. A macro can be used to run other


Modules are containers that hold the programming code that you, or an Access programmer, create to refine and add more features to the Access software. The module window is also called the IDE or integrated development environment.

Within the module window, Access uses Visual Basic For Applications (VBA) as the programming language. Professional Access programmers utilize VBA in place of macros, because the VBA language provides greater flexibility and faster program operations.

MS Access Solutions programmers are experienced professionals who use VBA code to develop your custom Microsoft Access application. We find that older existing client applications either don’t use VBA or the code is not properly created causing the application to fail or operate poorly.


For many organizations, reports are the ultimate use of data because the information in the reports contains important information, like inventory reports, scheduling reports, contacts and lead reports. The reports generator in MS Access is very powerful with many advanced features. The Access reports component is a primary reason why so many companies Use it with their existing databases to output meaningful information.

Reports are designed organize data for output to other applications and devices like Microsoft Word or Excel, printer or fax. However, unlike forms, reports are not editable.

How Much Do I Need To Know About Access?

Access, like every technical product comes with its own jargon. Not everyone in your company needs to "speak" MS Access. We recommend to all our clients that one or more staff members be the point person for integrating our MS Access application into your organization. Our goal is for your personnel to know as much as necessary for smooth operation of your database program.

The information on this page is designed as an introduction to Microsoft Access; it is not a full discussion and is not a training document. The information here is presented as a "what" not a "how to." To read more about Microsoft Access history, click here.

Got Questions Or Need Help Now?

We will help you decide on what database solution will work best for your organization. The best way to help you is to start a conversation about your current situation. Call us at (323) 285-0939 to schedule a complimentary consultation. Or, if you prefer email, use our Contact Us form. Our consultation will give us the opportunity to discuss your business, what you are doing right now to collect and analyze data, to find out about your operations, your systems, and your goals.